Help me reach a truce with my pressure cooker.

I’m considering re-homing it. So I turn to you with a plea: help me figure out why I should let it continue to take up space in my cabinet. I have a Fagor 6 quart stovetop pressure cooker which thus far has burnt just about everything I’ve cooked in it. I’m not someone who generally burns dinner, so this has me just about ready to toss it out the window. I’ve had it for over a year, but only pull it out every so often because, um, burnt dinner again. I guess I’m turning the heat up too high initially? But if I don’t start at medium-high heat on my gas burner as instructed in the recipes, the pressure indicator NEVER comes up.

Most recently, I made a batch of split pea soup successfully but I had been hesitant about adding potatoes under pressure so I made the soup, pulled out the ham bone, then returned the meat and raw diced potatoes to the pot, put it on a bare simmer for 20 mins , and voila- an inch of scorched black soup on the bottom. Am I just too used to my clad cookware and this is what happens with a disc bottom? I do have the America’s Test Kitchen pressure cooker perfection book which came with it, and have scorched brown rice while following their instructions as well. Any thoughts or favorite recipes are appreciated!

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I also have a 6 qt Fagor. Never made soup in it but it does a great job cooking dried beans, braising large tough cuts of meat and makes wonderful chicken stock in around an hour.

Maybe trade it in for an Instant Pot programmable electric pressure cooker. Operates at around 10 psi instead of 15 psi which is the standard cooking pressure for most single pressure stove top cookers

I’ve made THE best chicken stock in the PC! One batch was so good that when I froze it I labeled it “A+ chicken stock.” LOL

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Hi, Parsnipity:

Is there any pattern to the scorching? Do you notice a central hotspot, or does it start as a “ring of fire” at the disk’s periphery?

If the former, you may be needing a larger gas ring or a trivet like a Bella Copper.

If the latter, I suggest you verify that you are using your smallest hob, and that the flame is not reaching up your PC’s sidewalls. Most PC disk bases are somewhat rebated, so when you consider that 6Q PCs are somewhat small to start with, the danger of the scorch ring is even bigger.

I would next check to see (and hear) whether you are actually venting steam before the indicator indicates. If so, the indicator may be malfunctioning. The old-style jiggler weights were at least reliable.

With your pea soup, there was no scorch under pressure, yet there was 20 minutes after the potato dump cooking uncovered? If so, this sounds like more than a bare simmer. Try making something a little viscous, e.g., chili in it without ever sealing it. Lowest possible flame. See how it compares to chili in your clad.

BTW, we should not be overquick to indict disk bottoms in general. In my experience, with few exceptions, the conductive layers in clad are thinner than the conductive layers in a bottom disk.

One last thing: Consider that it can take a good long while to bring cold tap water in a stainless PC up to a temperature that will make 15 psi in the ullage. Unless you have very weak hobs, a Medium setting should eventually get you there, even if you cooked outside. Perhaps you are impatiently lead-footing the flame? IMO, PCs are somewhat like food processors insofar as they really don’t save as much time as people think they do–you must first get them to pressure to take advantage of the higher temps the pressure allows.

Fagor is a good company. I think if you patiently ferret out what’s happening and stick with using it, you’ll be glad you did.

Aloha,
Kaleo

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Hi, I have & use the same size Fagor PC. I’ve never burned anything in it, in fact tonight’s dinner was kale & smoked turkey butts, a deeelicious dish!!! I make chicken broth all the time using giblets, carcasses, etc & it’s the richest most flavorful ever. It’s got to be a problem of using too high heat. Have you tried using the smallest burner with the lowest flame? Or using a trivet? Are you sure you’re using the right amount of liquid? Sorry it’s not working for you.

Thanks to all and especially Kaleo. I suspect I’m just using too high a heat. I don’t know what to think about the first few times I tried it when I could NOT get it up to pressure (burned the ATK chicken and rice recipe terribly). Maybe the little pop up button was sticky and needed to be broken in? This was close to a year ago so I can’t now remember if there was steam venting before the button popped up. Well, your suggestions are helpful and if nothing else now I know others are cheering for me and I will feel bound and motivated to soldier on!

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You’re welcome.

Play around–beans and lentils are cheap.

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So here’s where I’m at: this afternoon made the ATK meatballs and marinara recipe. Not sure meatballs need to be a PC item, but it’s what I wanted to make. So, the sauce is simmering, the meatballs are added, the lid is locked. At about 5 mins I get a fair bit of steam venting around the handle and pressure dial, but no pop up. I remain patient and stay at med-low heat (despite recipe calling for med-high). At 10 mins, still lots of steam, no pressure indicated. I squeeze and jiggle the handle and the thing immediately pops up. I shift to a simmer burner and lose pressure- my bad. Can’t get pressure back up. There’s water from condensation in the well that the pop up button sits in- I poke at it with a knife tip and it immediately pops up. The meatballs came out great- 5 mins under pressure does indeed cook them through. Now, tell me oh wise pressure cooker sages- is this normal to have to fiddle with the pop up button or is this coincidence and it would have popped eventually or is this a faulty item? At least no burning…

(Because I’m committed to this and am a kitchen nerd, I doubled the meatball batch and the other half is in the oven on a rack (my usual method), browning to be added to sauce later for comparison. I’m thinking blind taste test as the other eater’s won’t know the rack ones always are a little flattened on the bottom…)

Hi, Parsnipety:

I’m a curmudgeon/traditionalist when it comes to PCs–no buttons, no interlocks, no indicators. But I think if you’re getting steam out before the indicator pops up, one of two things is happening: (1) the seal is leaking before your 15 psi is reached; or (2) the indicator is malfunctioning and the PC’s safety vents are the source of the steam.

The idea, of course, is that the PC will be sealed until the pressure hits 15 psi, and even then the steam should only vent through the spring-regulated valve (or in the event of malfunction, one of the safety vents which operate if the pressure spikes seriously over 15 psi).

Final at-home idea: Consult the manual for instructions on cleaning the valve/indicator, and make sure it’s not clogged or gummed up. Cook again.

Then, if that still doesn’t work, I would make this Fagor’s or your retailer’s problem. It would be logical to first replace the seal (if it is replaceable), and cook yet again. If that doesn’t solve it, it’s the indicator or valve that’s to blame, and they owe you a replacement.

Aloha,
Kaleo

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Make sure your pop up button is “loose” when you put the lid on, ie not stuck due to food buildup, etc. the button will pop up as the pressure is building, but before it starts releasing excess pressure. It lets you know there is pressure in there already.

I use my PC a couple times a week for (dal (lentils), meat curries, kidney beans, etc. It’s for things that normally take a long time to cook. I would never think to do meatballs in a PC – those aren’t a low and slow item for me.

(note: Hi everyone! I’m also a former CHer. I post on the other non-CH board too but there’s not much cooking/non-regional action over there.)

My valve often sticks until I tap it; I clean it well after every use, but maybe because I only use it once or twice a year? I’m talking a 1970s Presto. Once it pops, it’s good to go though.

Tried this out tonight and they are great. They were a bit rubbery, like store bought ones, when I took the lid off but by the time dinner was served they were tender (I did let the PC naturally release). My Grandma would not brown hers but I’d never had good luck with that (they’d fall apart) until today. Thanks!!

I’m glad it worked out for you! I followed the directions and quick-released pressure. Perhaps the extra time made them rubbery initially? Mine were not rubbery and after mixing in the batch I’d browned in the oven, to be honest, they were really indistinguishable if you closed your eyes while eating.

The recipe from Miss VIckie said to naturally release but I’ll skip it next time. Now I just need my 3 year old to get a bit older and making meatballs will really be easy :smiley:

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I’ve been using the America’s Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker Perfection which actually came with the Fagor pressure cooker I purchased. Their recipe was 5 mins at high, then manual release. You also make the marinara by sauteing everything beforehand.

I hear you on the kiddos- I made these while my 3 and 5 year olds were “napping” which now means listening to books on CD in their room. I don’t trust them to help with raw meat- not sure what age that becomes possible…

Maybe there is one more cookbook I need :smile:

Master Chef Junior probably gives me too much hope of having 2 kitchen helpers sooner than later. Whenever it is on I’ll let them stay up later to “watch it”. But I should be content with the fact that for now she loves cooking along with me in her kitchen making salad soup and other interesting combinations.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold