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From: BobK (c-67-174-125-230.client.comcast.net)
Subject: Re: problem/question
Date: February 9, 2004 at 11:32 am PST

In Reply to: problem/question posted by Cheryl on February 8, 2004 at 10:00 am:

Hi Cheryl

It's me one more time with some possibilities and a more sensitive means for checking for leaks.

Last summer I was looking for a pressure cooker and looked at a fagor in a store so I remember something, but just a little, about them. I found a t-fal at a garage sale for $10.00 and am using that. As I recall the Fagors that I looked at have a weighting scheme very similar to the t-fal which some people call a "developed weight". One criticism of this type of weighting to get pressure is that it is fairly difficult to tell (relative to a jiggle top or 2nd generation cooker) when you have reached full pressure. The small red rod will come up at very low pressure because it is a safety interlock and is intended to lock the lid from opening when there is any pressure at all in the cooker. Because of this the interlock is not a good indicator of full pressure. On my t-fal it takes a few minutes from when the red interlock comes up until full pressure is developed. One thing that you may be doing is lowering temperature before full pressure is developed by using the safety interlock as an indicator of pressure. How to tell is discussed below. Someone has posted that on this type of cooker (I believe that they said they have a Fagor) at full pressure there should be an occasional release of steam from the pressure release hole in the weight. This is one thing you should look for.

Developed weight cookers are very similar to jiggle tops in that they have a small pipe with a hole in the middle that the weight sits on but do not have the audible jiggling to indicate pressure.

On the t-fal you can remove the weight which I do to clean clean the weight and hole every time I use the cooker. I don't know if you can do that on the Fagor, but if you can I would take it off and make sure the weight is clean by taking a round toothpick or wooden match to clean the weight where it sits on the small pipe perhaps soaking it in warm water for a few minutes.

What you might do is take the lid (cold)with the weight in place, set the pressure to high pressure, turn the lid upside down and blow through the hole to see if it is clear. If it is clear, then using your fingers press the weight down (in this case up since the lid is upside down) and blow through the hole. You should not be able to blow air though the hole. If you can this indicates a problem with the weight, possibly cleanliness or you do not have the right pressure setting. Anyway on my t-fal I cannot blow through the hole when holding the weight in this fashion.

I have figured out a more sensitve test to see if the gasket is leaking, if the safety interlock is leaking, or if the safety release valve is leaking and if you have attained full pressure.

Put a quart of water into the cooker - water only not food as a safety precaution - assemble and bring to full pressure. Take a stainless steel spatula, knife, or cake icing spatula and when full pressure is reached run whatever you are using under the lip of the lid in a fashion so that the knife or whatever is contacting the cooker body. I used a chef's knife that has a wide blade. I contacted the cooker body with the back of the blade not the the edge. The knife blade should be perpendicular to the cooker body. Watch the blade,if the gasket is leaking, steam will condense on the knife blade if the gasket is not leaking steam will not be present to condense. Do this fairly rapidly so that the kife does not heat up, if the knife blade does heat up it might not condense steam. You should not do this with a short knife as a safety precaution. I would possibly use a spatula with a long handle to keep my hands away from the cooker. I should imagine that you can tell if the lid is leaking uner the handles by passing the object around the handles of the cooker and look for condensed stem. If you do manage to heat what ever you are using, knife or spatula, just cool it down. Safety should be the prime consideration.

To check if the safety interlock is leaking hold the knife blade over the safety interlock and remove the knife and see if steam has condensed on the blade. Do the same around the safety release if the Fagor has one. If steam condenses you have a leak. What I did was to take a clear plastic bag, one that a magazine came in, and stretched it over the top of my t-fal about an inch above the top of the cooker. You can probably use one of those grocery bags that you put produce in. Grasp it at both ends and hold it over the top of the weight and safety interlock portion of the cooker lid.
You might want to use some of those gloves that are used as pot holders to hold each end to protect your hands or wrap your hands in some small towels to protect against sudden release of steam. With the cooker at pressure watch the plastic bag, steam will condense where it is leaking, at low pressure you will probably have steam leaking from the safety interlock and not from the weight. At high pressure you will not have leaking at the safety interlock but bursts of steam from the weight. At high operating pressure you should occasionally see a burst of steam on the bottom of the bag over the weight but not over the safety interlock. If you see steam condensing over the safety iinterlock you have a leak there. If you don't see burst or steam over the weight somehow you are not getting to full pressure. Don't let the bag contact the cooker, you might have a mess to clean up. I don't know if cling wrap would work or not, I would be reluctant to try it.

If steam condenses over the safety interlock and not over the weight you do not have enough pressure.

You should be able to perform all of these checks in less than a minute or so.

Doing this with water only eliminates the possibility of plugging the pressure release hole so this is a safety caution also. If you go to far with water only you will or should see a stream of steam coming out of the weight.

When I first got the t-fal I was very timid about not letting full pressure come up. After I developed some confidence and read some of the instructions here and in Miss Vickies site I developed the confidence to proceed. The Bravetti looks like a developed weight cooker also and you might have the same problem.

The fact that you can cook rice but not beans may be suggestive of old beans particularly if it is brown rice. Again unless you have just recently purchased some beans you might do that and try them.

Good luck






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