Monday, 22 May 2023 09:52

5 Tips for Safely Using a Pressure Cooker

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A pressure cooker exploded and caused severe burn injuries to people around – how often do you hear such news? Likely not that often. However, pressure cooker injuries are not that uncommon either.

 Earlier this May, a pressure cooker accident caused injuries to four children in India. You’d think that modern pressure cookers would have more advanced safety features to prevent such accidents, but that’s not always the case. A similar pressure cooker blast earlier in the year in the US caused similar injuries to a few people around it.

A pressure cooker explosion is no joke. It can lead to severe injuries, including burns. In some cases, it’s the manufacturer’s fault for releasing faulty cookers into the market. In other cases, it’s because of unsafe usage.

According to TorHoerman Law, around 15 pressure cooker brands were recalled in the US by the Consumer Protection Safety Commission as their products were defective. Some of these incidents have even led to lawsuits filed against the manufacturers.

All in all, there’s no telling what might happen, which is why it’s best to always exercise precaution when using pressure cookers. Keeping that in mind, let us take you through a few tips for safely using a pressure cooker at home or work.

1 Read the Manual and Follow the Instructions

Before using a pressure cooker, thoroughly read the instruction manual provided by the manufacturer. Each pressure cooker model may have specific operating instructions and safety guidelines. Familiarize yourself with the various components, such as the pressure release valve, sealing ring, and safety features.

Pay close attention to the recommended minimum and maximum fill levels, as overfilling the cooker can lead to excessive pressure buildup. Understanding the proper placement and alignment of the lid, handles, and safety mechanisms is crucial for safe operation. The manual will also highlight the cooking times and temperature settings for various types of foods. You must also keep those in mind when using the pressure cooker.

2 Check and Maintain the Pressure Cooker

Inspect your pressure cooker before each use to ensure it is in good condition. Look for any signs of damage, such as cracks, dents, or worn-out seals. Faulty components can compromise the cooker's ability to maintain pressure and may lead to accidents.

Regularly clean and maintain your pressure cooker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Clean the sealing ring, lid, and other removable parts after each use to prevent food residue buildup, which can interfere with the cooker's performance. Replace the sealing ring periodically to maintain a proper seal and prevent steam leakage.

3 Use Adequate Liquid and Monitor Pressure

Pressure cookers require liquid to create steam and build pressure. You must stick to the suggested amount of liquid that’s been specified in the recipe or by the cooker’s manufacturer. The insufficient liquid may result in insufficient steam, leading to the burning or scorching of the food and potential damage to the cooker.

When using a pressure cooker, closely monitor the pressure level indicated by the pressure gauge or indicator. Avoid exceeding the maximum pressure limit specified for your cooker model. If the pressure exceeds the limit, turn off the heat and let the pressure release naturally before opening the cooker. Rapidly releasing the pressure can cause scalding steam to escape, posing a significant safety hazard.

4 Release Pressure Safely

Releasing pressure from a pressure cooker should be done with caution to prevent steam burns. Pressure release usually follows two methods – natural release and quick release.

For natural release, turn off the heat and let the pressure decrease naturally over time. This method is suitable for foods that require additional cooking time even after turning off the heat. In the case of quick release, it involves carefully turning the pressure release valve to manually release the steam.

Use caution when performing a quick release, as the steam can cause burns. Always keep your hands and face away from the steam release valve and use a long-handled utensil to operate it.

5 Allow Pressure to Fully Release before Opening

Before you open the pressure cooker, you must first make sure that all the pressure has been fully released. Opening the cooker prematurely can result in dangerous steam bursts. To ensure complete pressure release, check that the pressure indicator has dropped to zero, and the lid is no longer under tension. If there is any resistance when trying to open the cooker, it indicates that pressure is still present. In such cases, refrain from forcing the lid open and allow additional time for pressure release.

When opening the pressure cooker, open the lid away from your face and body to avoid any potential steam exposure. Be extra careful when dealing with hot items. Don’t forget to use oven mitts or heat-resistant gloves in order to keep your hands safe from burn injuries.

There’s no telling when a pressure cooker might explode, but you can always do your part and exercise necessary precautions. Thus, always keep these tips in mind whenever you’re using a pressure cooker and keep yourself safe.