Parts of a Pressure Cooker and How to Use One

Published Categorized as Journal

Pressure cooking was once thought to be an outdated way of cooking but in recent years, it seems to be making a resurgence. This is most probably due to new innovative designs that have replaced the old, which boast a quick, set-and-forget way to make delicious meals.

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Pressure cookers allow you to cook at a much higher temperature without drying out the food and can be cooked in a fraction of the time. How, you ask? Keep reading to find out more!

Table of Contents

stainless steel cooking pot on stove

Are all pressure cookers built the same way?

If you’ve been looking at a few different models, you’ll notice that all pressure cookers are basically made of the same parts.

So, below I’ve made this easy-to-follow guide to help you understand the basic elements of a pressure cooker.

I’ve also made a guide on how to use a pressure cooker, and how they actually work!

It is worth noting that you’ll want to observe the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure you’ve fully grasped all the safety features of your particular pressure cooker.

What are the parts of a pressure cooker?

The following list is a run-through of pressure cooker parts.

The parts of a pressure cooker include;

  • Body
  • Air vent/cover lock
  • Pressure regulator
  • Cooking rack
  • Cover
  • Sealing ring
  • Overpressure plug
  • Vent pipe
instrument

Body of the pressure cooker

The body of your pressure cooker is the basic pot into which the basket sits. It can just act like a normal pot when used without the lid! It is in fact the lid that causes the pressure to build. This is made of reinforced material that can cope with reaching temperatures above the normal boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cooking basket or rack

This is the basket into which the food sits. It allows the food to sit out of the water or liquid you’re using. It can also be used in instances where you don’t want some foods you’re cooking to mingle.

The rack will also prevent scorching of your food as it stops the food from ever coming directly in contact with the heat source. If you are not using the rack it can be very easy to burn your food.  

Air vent/Cover lock

This is the feature that helps visually indicate that pressure has built within the pressure cooker.

The pressure causes a special safety feature called a lock pin, which slides into place and locks the pressure cooker lid into place.

Once this has been locked into place, this means that it is impossible to remove the lid on modern pressure cookers. It is an excellent safety feature as it will prevent any explosions which is great when you have little kids around!

Pressure regulator

This is in control of the pressure and maintains a stable pressure inside the cooker.

This will also indicate when the pressure cooking is reached, which is usually around 15 psi, which is the unit pressure is measured.

Vent pipe

This pipe stems out of the pressure regulator and is one of the pressure cooker parts that releases any excess pressure.

Always make sure this pipe is clear before use!

Overpressure plug

If the unlikely instance occurs that the vent pipe is blocked and cannot release pressure properly, the overpressure plug is one of the pressure cooker parts that steps in to automatically release excess pressure.

If the pressure inside the cooker goes much over 30 psi, the plug will pop out of its place to release the excess pressure, and acts as a warning to its user that the cooker is under too much pressure. This is another good added safety feature.

Gasket ring

This enables the pressure to build by forming the seal between the body and the lid. This is a vital aspect of building pressure because its absence means that you won’t have a complete seal. It is also important to keep the seal clean to ensure the seal is working exactly as it should be.

Parts Of A Pressure Cooker

How to use a pressure cooker

Follow these simple steps on howe to use your pressure cooker to ensure you get it right every time!

Operating a pressure cooker

  1. Place inside pot

    Follow your recipe to get the proper cooking times and any specific instructions you may need. Add your desired liquid to the pot and if you’re using the cooking basket or rack, insert your food and then place this inside the pot

  2. Inspect

    Check that your vent pipe is clear by holding it up to the light. If you can clearly see through it then you’re good to go. Close the lid over the pot and ensure the gasket ring is clean and there is nowhere air can get through.

  3. Lock

    Lock the cover in place and secure using the method outlined in the manufacturers’ instructions.

  4. heat

    Put the pressure regulator on the vent pipe and heat the cooker to 15 pounds of pressure using the high stovetop temperature setting.

  5. Check

    If the recipe says to cook for 0 minutes, then reduce the temperature and cool as specified. Make sure to cook for the length of time stated on the recipe to prevent overcooking your food, or excess pressure building up.

  6. Cool

    If the recipe says to let pressure drop of its own accord, remove the pot from heat source and let it cool naturally. If you are to ‘cool the cooker at once’, put the pot in a cold basin of water until the pressure has reduced completely. Does your model have a quick cool release button? Use this accordingly adhering to manufacturers instructions.

  7. Remove lid and enjoy

    When the air vent/ cover lock has dropped, you’ll know the pressure has dropped completely and is safe to remove the lid and enjoy your food!

How a pressure cooker works

Below is an easy explanation to help you understand the physics behind a pressure cooker

When you cook, you are generally raising the temperature of the food which enables the breakdown of tough tissues in food such as meat and vegetables.

When you are cooking normally, the pot heats up and the temperature will increase until the water starts to boil. Once the boiling point is reached, the temperature doesn’t increase until all the water has boiled away.

Inside a pressure cooker, the water is not able to escape, which allows the temperature to be raised much higher. The temperature then becomes dependent on its surrounding pressure. The atmospheric pressure of a normal cooking pot is around 14.7 psi, and the water will boil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a pressure cooker, the pressure is almost doubled and can reach an atmospheric pressure of up to 30 psi. When cooking at this pressure, the water cannot boil until it has reached 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, you’ve reached a very high temperature without losing energy on boiling the water. You’re not losing any of the liquid either. This allows you to cook meals in a fraction of the normal time while keeping the moisture locked inside of the pot. You’re preventing your food from drying out!

If you’re looking to invest in one, I have gone through all the top pressure cooker reviews so you don’t have to!

Midrange pressure cooker

The Mueller pressure cooker is a 10-in-1 pressure cooker than can cook two different things at the same time.

This pressure cooker can also be a slow cooker, food warmer, sterilizer, cake maker, egg cooker, yogurt maker, rice cooker, and even a steamer.

Mueller 6 Quart Pressure Cooker 10 in 1, Cook 2 Dishes at Once, Tempered Glass Lid incl, Saute, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Yogurt Maker and Much More
Buy on Amazon

Top-of-the-range pressure cooker

The Instant Pot duo electric pressure cooker has 15 one-touch cooking programs and has over 10 safety features. It has an easy-to-read display and is very easy to clean.

The quality of this product truly makes it an investment piece. It can serve a purpose in cooking every time of meal!

Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 Quart 9-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, Warmer & Sterilizer, 15 One-Touch Programs,Stainless Steel/Black
Buy on Amazon

FAQs

Are pressure cookers better for living at higher altitudes?

Yes, they are!  If you’re cooking at higher altitudes, you may find it takes longer to cook food using a normal pot! This is caused by the decreased atmospheric pressure which occurs at higher altitudes.
When atmospheric pressure is decreased, water will also boil at a lower temperature. By that logic, if you’ve got a pot simmering away, it will be simmering at a temperature below 212 degrees Fahrenheit. So, dependent on your altitude, your food will take much longer to cook.
If you live at a higher altitude, you should consider a pressure cooker and greatly reduce your time spent cooking!

How often should I replace the rubber gasket?

It is recommended to replace your sealing ring every 12-18 months, as the pressure can cause the ring to warp and bend.
Often food will often cause it to discolor and start smelling, If you notice yours starts to do this, it may be recommended to replace your sealing ring every 6-12 months.
You can replace yours with the option below!

Instant Pot Sealing Rings 2-Pack Clear 5 & 6 Quart
Buy on Amazon

Pressure Cookers are Excellent!

Pressure cookers truly are a great method of cooking delicious, juicy meals in a fraction of the normal time it takes to cook. I love to see old methods of cooking rejuvenated with a modern twist!

I hope you now have a better understanding of the different parts of this handy kitchen appliance, and how it actually works.

If you think I’ve missed out on a feature that your pressure cooker has, let me know in the comments!

More about kitchen appliances on the blog:

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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