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From: Guy (
Subject: To start
Date: May 12, 2003 at 10:54 am PST

In Reply to: HELP! I'm totally intimidated! posted by AnnieP on May 12, 2003 at 8:55 am:

A good idea is to do a test run with water only. Fill the cooker about 1/3 full and turn the burner on high with the lid in place. A timer is useful to see how long it takes to get it up to top pressure. When it reaches top pressure as steam begins to escape turn it down to about 1/3 top heat & see how it responds. The goal at this point is to find the minimum heat level to maintain maximum pressure and a minimum of steam escaping. Once you've figured this out you should be ready to cook something.

As far as adding oil to your cooker so that foods won't foam there is another better way to avoid that problem. When I first started pressure cooking about 15 years ago I used oil to reduce foaming. It worked pretty well but on occasion my pressure cooker would clog & spit liquid out at the back of the stove. For whatever reason some people don't experience that problem with their cookers but it was a problem for me for quite awhile until I read about a permanent possible solution. The solution was to allow steam & oxygen to escape while a closed pressure cooker is heating up. The explanation I read was that oxygen was a big part of foods foaming in a pressure cooker. I have a pressure cooker which has a second valve which allows this to happen. It automatically vents steam and O2 for several minutes. After a high amount of steam is being produced the force of the steam closes a small pin valve & completely seals the pressure cooker. From there the pressure indicator starts to rise as pressure builds. Since figuring out how to cook foods this way I use zero oil & never have foaming & clogging problems.

I am not sure how Fagor pressure cookers work. They may have a valve similar to what I describe. The way that you'd see if it does is to bring water to a boil and then seal your pressure cooker. If the pressure indicator immediately starts to rise it probably does not have one. If steam escapes through a valve separate from the pressure indicator when you have it properly closed then there probably is one of those valves. Even if it does not have such a valve you may be able to manually release steam just after your pc has been sealed. This can be done on a Kuhn by pressing down on the valve for about 60 seconds after sealing. As I said, I don't know exactly how a Fagor works so you might have to experiment a little.

Also, I nearly always use my pressure cookers as a double boiler. I have found that I like the texture of the food a lot more that way. There is never a need to add extra water to prevent scorching. This makes it a breeze to adjust water level up or down (in the double boiler inert) to achieve a desired level in whatever food you cook. Rice always turns out the way I want it. When I didn't use this method it was always mushy. Now it's light & has fabulous texture. If you're interested in that way check out a couple of my recent other posts about the subject.

As far as something to cook why not start with something easy to get the feel for how your pressure cooker works? I suggest cooking or steaming a vegetable. They won't cause any foaming. An artichoke will cook in about 20 minutes. For a small artichoke fill your cooker about 1/2 full, get the water boiling, put the artichoke in, seal it & time it for 20 minutes from the time you seal it. (follow the procedure for the test run above) When the 20 minutes are up take the pressure cooker & run cool water over the lid until zero pressure has been achieved. If your Fagor has a 2nd "pin" valve you will hear the unit suck air into itself to avoid negative pressure. If it doesn't have one the directions which come with it may be helpful.

Once you get familiar with how your PC operates you will find it very useful. When I first bought mine I had buyers' remorse for a few days. After that I started using it about 10 times per week and got over the remorse in a hurry and added a couple more to the kitchen. I have 4.5, 6 & 10 liter PC's and would not want to cook without them. Hope this helps. Good luck.

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