The Exploding Pressure Cooker

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DawnT
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2009/04/29 16:07:06 (permalink)

The Exploding Pressure Cooker

It happened again last afternoon at work during a casual conversation about what's for supper. The topic of post roasts came up followed by the usual, "I don't have time for that".  Among my anglo co-workers, (I'm one too), there's apears to be a consensus that supper shouldn't take more then an hour and involve as few ingredients as possible and the concept of pre-preparation the night befrore appears to be an abstract concept. So I bit. Fifteen-20 minutes veggie preparation and 15 minutes a pound in a pressure cooker with most of the vegetables added at the last 8 minutes isn't going to crimp anyones time. Fast,simple,and easy.
 
Here we go again. Everyone chimes in with a horror story about someone that someone knew or their mother (or someone she knew) that had a pressure cooker blow up. Same old,same old. The roof,wall,scalds. The urban legend continues ad nauseum. It always gets me with the intense conviction that the stories are re-told and always second or third hand accounts. You might as well talk about attempting to cook with explosives. These women are so convinced that pressure cookers are dangerous time bombs there is no way to rationally talk about the subject. Amusing to the rest of us really.
 
I grew up with my grandparents. The old,Mirro pressure cookers with the round disc for the jiggler were used almost daily probably made in the 40's with bakelite handles. Never an incident or a problem. Cooking was second nature with them. When I learned to cook from many of my Cuban friends mothers and grandmothers, they too used them most every day. None of us ever heard stories of black or red bean covered walls. Part of the legend is that many cookers were made with inferior materials by today's standards. Every pressure cooker made has had some form of pressure safety. Still, safeties and jiggler stems can plug, but that doesn't obviate not keeping an eye on your cooker like most people do and lower the temp once the jiggler indicates pressure or noticing something isn't right. Lets face it, if some explosions occured, it would have taken some mass neglect or abject ignorance.
 
Will this nonsense ever go away ?  Have any of you had this acutally happen to you or wittnessed it? In over 40 years of pressure cooking including pressure frying in oil, never has anything remotely similar ever happened to me. 
 
 
 
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    doggydaddy
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/04/29 16:21:22 (permalink)


    I think that pressure cookers are overlooked. The things are amazing. Everyone wants a pot roast that has cooked all day in a crock pot while you can do it in a hour. You could create pork carnitas in the same time with the pork just fork tender falling apart.
    I have done beef ribs where the pressure actually tenderized the bones.

    I have never had any problems with mine.

    mark

    #2
    WarToad
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/04/29 16:24:04 (permalink)
    Same here.  I can a lot, and I have a fair number of friends/family that can too.  I've never known anyone to ever say they had a direct experience, or personally known someone with a direct experience of an explosion.  And that little rubber safety stopper would blow out anyway long before that 3/8" aluminum ever would.
     
    Pure "my friends uncles neighbors sisters boyfriends mother once.... " pure urban myth.  I have no doubt there have been explosions.  Every now and then meteors hit houses too.  Doesn't mean you should fear the sky.
    #3
    the ancient mariner
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/04/29 16:48:04 (permalink)
    I learned from my mother who used a pressure cooker till the day she died at 96.  I have used one for over 50 years, my brother the same thing----------never a problem.
    #4
    NYPIzzaNut
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/04/29 16:50:33 (permalink)
    ...my Polish mom used hers all the time ... my favorite was her beef tongues...
    #5
    beijinger
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/04/29 18:03:16 (permalink)
         Hold your judgements go right to the source. A visin to the Chinese manufacture sweat shop, there you will see the horror to be pressure cooker explosion 101. See the facts are hey try not to ship overseas the ones that will take off your arm or leg. You may ask is this all myth buh i have seen the walls in the countryside the walls of the townsquare dented and torn.
            The love of my life lost a glass storage cabinet the projectile inches from her head. She wrote me the story too long to repeat but when i returned to China to take her to the aisle. As a snuck about try to find the place to hide a marraige gift what did a soo the pressure relief valve 10 feet up and 20 feet from where it should of been. Then I believed too. 
    #6
    ocdreamr
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/04/29 18:07:54 (permalink)
    Let me preface this by saying I used to own a pressure canner & used it regularly ( my mother would sit outside while it was in use)  I no longer use it because I don't can any more.
    Now as to the explodability of one.  Yes it can happen, back in the late seventies I worked with a 4H group in a small Carroll county MD town.  One of the local ladies had her pressure cooker explode & it caused a fire in the kitchen area of the house and resulted in her death.  This isn't second or third hand info.  I didn't know the lady personally but saw the house & knew her neighbors at the time of the incident.
    #7
    BigGlenn
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/04/29 18:26:07 (permalink)
    My neighbor Johns house keeper placed a wet rag over the hissing steam vent on a very old pressure cooker. She said she didn't like the sound that it made. It blew while I was in the drive way maybe 10 feet from his kitchen window. I had to comb the glass shards out of my hair. I called 911 thinking it was a gas explosion. She suffered bad burns on her face and neck from the hot liquid.  When I went in with John and the fire department we found the lid to the pressure cooker stuck halfway in the ceiling. By the way she sued him and his insurance for a half a million dollars. She won! Even though in court she admitted to placing the rag over the vent! He never hired another house keeper.
    #8
    Greymo
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/04/29 19:37:43 (permalink)
    I had a friend who was making applesauce in her pressure cooker.  It was on a hot autumn day and she was wearing shorts and a halter top.  Her cooker exploded  and she ended up with being in the hospital over a month with the bad burns that she suffered.
    #9
    Twinwillow
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/04/29 20:54:40 (permalink)
    I love my fully automatic, 6 quart electric pressure cooker.
    Gorgeous chicken soup in 35 minutes. Amazing!
    #10
    DawnT
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/04/29 21:30:23 (permalink)
    Ok, how many of these first hand stories can be attributed to misuse or plain ignorance? First off, every pressure cooker made since the 30's has had a secondary relief valve in the case the main/jiggler vent clogs. Some companies even use two of these. It works totally different then the main vent and it's not as prone to clogging.There's actually a second, but really overlooked safety feature in some designs in that the rubber/silicone seal will give if too much pressure accumulates over 15 psi and release pressure around the rim. How about common sense? You don't fill these things full or with ingredients that will foam or plug the valve. You don't start a session without at least sticking a toothpick through the jiggler valve to make sure it's not blocked if you didn't do this when you washed it. Canners usually have screw-down locks/latches. That's not only going to take 2 safety failures, but an awful lot of pressure to blow unlike a bayonette-type lid. Many so-called explosions have occured when people for some reason try to open them under pressure or crank up the heat to high and walk off without even waiting for the pressure to release and lower the heat.

    Virtually all cookers are made in Spain,Portugal,and Brazil nowadays. China and Switzerland too. Aluminum is rare except for some cheap Chinese ones. They are mosty all stainless and almost indestructible. They've even incorporated features to make them fool proof such as pressure operated lid locks and made pressure regulators unaccessible under a control knob. Most countries and the EU have standards that require pressure testing.  You couln'd make these things any safer or idiot proof.
     
    Goodness, I have 5 of these thngs ranging from 4q-12q . One I've had over 35 years. If I could find gaskets for my grandmother's little 4q Miro's that are probably 70-80 years old, I'd use them too. I routinely pressure fry with oil to make fried chicken. I don't take chances with the regular style cookers and use one with a clamp-type lid. I couldn't live without these things they make life so much easier trying to get a meal on the table after work.
     
    #11
    jman
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/04/29 22:01:39 (permalink)
    DawnT

    If I could find gaskets for my grandmother's little 4q Miro's that are probably 70-80 years old, I'd use them too.
     


    Have you tried this site?
    #12
    food4u
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/03 03:42:10 (permalink)
    I'm too afraid to use one. I have heard the horror stories and to be honest, I wouldn't know what to cook in one. My present cooking methods are working just fine, without the risk of explosions. We never had one growing up, I don't know if it was because of something happening or just the fear of something happening. Either way, I never learned to use one and grew up being a little afraid of them.
    That being said, are there any recipes that people feel absolutely can't be done without one?
    #13
    edwmax
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/03 08:01:07 (permalink)
    Some people should just learn the art of the telephone for takeout & delivery chinese or pizza.     ......If they can not safely operate presure cooker, then they would not understand the safety requirements of cooking with full pans of boiling hot oil or scalding hot water.    ...........
    #14
    tcrouzer
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/03 08:34:08 (permalink)
    I grew up with my mom cooking in her Presto every week. When I married I bought a pressure canner to can vegetables we grew and were given by our neighbors. I always sat in a chair right in front of the stove to monitor the pressure gauge while canning and never had a problem with the canner or the jars of food that I had canned.

    Now I have a Presto second generation cooker that I use all the time. I follow the directions, don't overfill the cooker, lower the heat after the pressure is reached. use a timer, and follow correct cool-down procedures. I've never had a problem. Frothy and spitting foods like beans and applesauce can clog the pressure vent! It is a good idea to add a tablespoon or two of oil when cooking beans for this reason. I never cook applesauce in a pressure cooker.

    It is very probable that most home accidents are caused by user mistakes than cooker malfunctions.
    #15
    pokinielsen
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/03 09:06:55 (permalink)
    Twinwillow

    I love my fully automatic, 6 quart electric pressure cooker.
    Gorgeous chicken soup in 35 minutes. Amazing!


    Where can I get one of these?!! It sounds like a gem that I would love to have.
    #16
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/03 09:10:36 (permalink)
    Sunday dinner was always pressure-cooked roast beef.  Wonderful stuff!
     
    "Explosions" are just "urban legends".   The only way to make one explode is to close the relief valve with a screw.  Even then chances are that just the screw would hit the ceiling. 
     
    If they weren't such easily alarmed "fraidy cats" the global warming folks would advocate this wonderfully energy-efficient cooking method. 
    #17
    PapaJoe8
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/03 18:32:07 (permalink)
    I use low pressure pots. The lid seals itself. They take a bit longer than a regular pressure cooker but they work good. I have a 22 qt. that I use most often but also have 2 smaller sizes. I also have a regular pressure cooker but it never gets used.
    Joe
    #18
    ann peeples
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/03 19:40:59 (permalink)
    My Mom loved her pressure cooker-I never shared the passion.All I remember is she made the best chili in it...and rue the day I didnt learn from her for that particular recipe...
    #19
    Twinwillow
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/03 21:27:46 (permalink)
    pokinielsen

    Twinwillow

    I love my fully automatic, 6 quart electric pressure cooker.
    Gorgeous chicken soup in 35 minutes. Amazing!


    Where can I get one of these?!! It sounds like a gem that I would love to have.


    Walmart, for one. And probably, Costco or Sam's too. I bought mine online from Amazon. Just be sure to buy an OVAL one. Not a round one. The oval works better for chickens and other large cuts of meat. 
    I recommend the Cook's Essential's brand 8 Quart (oval) model with 15 psi. Just "Google" it or go to "Nextag" for a price comparison. About $130.00 and well worth it!
    post edited by Twinwillow - 2009/05/03 21:34:31
    #20
    marzsit
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/09 03:27:37 (permalink)
    i have 4 pressure cookers.. a 6-quart presto, 2-liter and 4-liter hawkins and a 10-quart magefesa that doubles as a pressure fryer.  the hawkins cookers are probably the safest design, the lids seal like an aircraft door (the lid goes completely inside the pot, and pressure keeps it closed) and it would be impossible for it to explode.
    #21
    Big_Ted
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/15 01:15:08 (permalink)
    I've been looking for one in rummage sales, etc.  I can't afford a brand new one right now.  My mom used her cooker for just about anything. 
    #22
    brittneal
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/15 02:45:13 (permalink)

    Ive heard that even the maker advise not to use a pressure cooker as a presssure fryer to do chicken.  I have had it made that way before and its awesome.  What I hear that because all you use only oil  there is a danger of both fire and explosion.  The gaskets are rated at 300 degrees and the oil gets hotter and melts it.  Is that just an urban ledgend?
    #23
    DawnT
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/15 16:05:24 (permalink)
    Depends on the seal material and construction. Most silicone seals seem to work ok especially if they are a solid seal rather then a thin, compressed C type. The trend has been using a thin,C form gasket that works as an additional safety to release pressure if everything else fails. . Worst case it will ruin the seal especially on the real cheap chinese units like the Peerless. Most silicone sealers are rated 450 continuous, so a formed and solid seal high heat silicone should do just as well or better.  I don't know how some of these newer cookers with the integrated handle that's full of plastic parts will handle the hotter oil, but the jiggler units should do fine with the solid seals. There's a myth that you can only fry at 5 psi like the old chicken buckets of the 70's. That's a bunch of BS. The Colonel used a regular pressure cooker at 15 psi originally. In fact, one of his secrets to cooking even faster was to add a pressure valve to the lid and use an external air tank to pressurize the cooker after the lid was closed instead of waiting for the residual mositure in the chicken to steam up and build pressure. Wish somebody would add that feature to current cookers and keep a small air tank or pump next to the stove. That was genius! The standard pressure fryer used in KFC franchises well into the 60's was a 16Q Mirro aluminum pressure cooker that was leased by KFC. Nothing special about it except for the air pressure inlet valve and large size. Otherwise it was just a huge version of regular,bayonette locking lid, jiggler home unit. 

    Then there is the problem with stupid people. You put enough oil in the cooker to float the chicken, not fill it up. You pre-fry the chicken 'til brown before putting the lid on.  The warnings that most companies make is out of fear of product liability.

    I use the BRA/Isagona clamp-type cookers that use the heavy bar across the top like the Euro Fagors,Magefesa,and Rapid Chef's in a 4L and 10L version if I pressure fry. These types are sold worldwide by these companies except in the states. A few specialty vendors parallel import them such as Pro Selections,Accupro,and Beck Sales above the worldwide nominal cost. Seems like these Mnfr's seem to think that Americans are too stupid and litigious to use them and restrict them in this market in their regular distribution channels.  Truthfully, I can't really see much of a difference between immersion frying if you have good recovery. The pressure doesn't "drive" flavor into the meat or intensify the spices. Getting it right is tricky and you may end up ruining a couple batches until you get it right empirically.
    post edited by DawnT - 2009/05/15 20:05:36
    #24
    Rusty246
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/15 16:21:24 (permalink)
    Never had an accident either, I mostly use mine for boiling peanuts anymore though.  Just have to make sure you rinse the peanuts well!  Takes a sometimes 2 hour boiling time down to 19 minutes, sometimes less depending on how fresh the peanuts are.  I have two, one was my Mother's and the gasket did wear out, I found out the messy way but got a replacment at an Ace Hardware store.
    #25
    2005Equinox
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/18 03:02:17 (permalink)
    My Dad used a pressure cooker for many years without any problems. He taught Mom and there too never a problem. Like said make sure the hole on top is clear and NEVER fill it more than 2/3 full. EVER!!!!! Watch it and as soon as the topper starts to jiggle turn the heat down usually medium low if memory is right. You want the topper to jiggle GENTLY.
    #26
    charlottesailor
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/05/25 16:28:47 (permalink)
    I always use a pressure cooker to make soup.  Used to use a Presto with the jiggle regulator.  That is until a few years ago.  The vent pipe got clogged (I think, didn't know it at the time) and the regulator wasn't jiggling so I  turned up the heat.  I left the room and heard a loud pop and rushing steam, when I came back in to the kitchen there was a fountain of boiling liquid erupting from where the overpressure plug had been.  There was food all over the cabinets and the ceiling not to mention a fountain of scalding steam/water.  The pressure became too high and blew out the overpressure plug and the contents followed.  I would have been scalded if I had been near it. 

    Still use a pressure cooker, but now I use a T-Fal euro-style pressure cooker.  
    #27
    kevincad
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/06/10 11:41:05 (permalink)
    MetroplexJim

    Sunday dinner was always pressure-cooked roast beef.  Wonderful stuff!
     
    Same here! Wait until the beef is about eight minutes from being done, and put in carrots, onions and taters!

    Sunday dinner at it's finest!
    post edited by kevincad - 2012/08/19 07:58:00
    #28
    Sundancer7
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/06/10 14:18:55 (permalink)
    Mamaw Smith still uses one that is at least 50 years old.  It is aged and looks sorta ugly however it seems to work very well as I work with her and we use it every year canning tomatoes and other produce..
     
    She cranks it up and let it get to a certain pressure, turns it off and puts the lid on.  Never ever had a problem.
     
    I am sorta afraid of them myself although Mamaw Smith is 87 and it has never caused her any issues.
     
    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #29
    DawnT
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    Re:The Exploding Pressure Cooker 2009/06/10 14:40:08 (permalink)
    The new. Euro-style cookers are very nice and practically idiot-proof. They must have designed these things especially for phobic Americans. That convenience comes with a price if you use yours a lot. I have the Fagor Duo set which has two 8q & 4Q pots and one lid. The pressure lock started to give problems when I'd release the pressure towards the end and add the delicate veggies and then try to put it back under pressure for a few more minutes. Many times it wouldn't seal/lock. That got so bad that I couldn't even get the pressure to lock during the primary cook.
     
    Fagor's customer service's simple soloution to that was to replace the entire handle assembly with all of the controls at over half of what I paid for the entire set. I took a nutdriver and screwdriver to the lid and removed it...geesh what a gooed-up mess underneath. Fagor recommends not immersing the lid and just washing and rinsing the exposed parts. After some elbow grease with a citrus cleaner and a few runs of the valve parts inside the sonic cleaner that I use for our jewelry with straight ammonia, everything went back together and good as new. Every so often now, I open it up and repeat the above. It's a pain if you use them a lot and the price you pay for the all-in-one convenience. If you own one of these kind of pc's, you might want to check out the insides under the handle once in a while.
    #30
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