{Sticky} I know a lot of people got awesome pressure cookers over the holidays as Christmas gifts.  (And by the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!)  So I wanted to take a little time to write a post on different tips, tricks and special know-hows for all the First Timers of the Elite series of electric pressure cookers.  At least the way I know them.  Most of the information will probably also work with other brands such as Cuisinart or Wolfgang Puck machines, but I’ve never used those before so I can’t really say if the information will be accurate.

Trust me, I’m no expert, but I can actually say that I am confident about using an electric pressure cooker now and I am not scared of using one either.  At least I’m not anymore.

But let’s just say about 3 years ago, I was terrified!!!  I had no idea what a pressure cooker was or how it cooked or what I could possibly cook inside it.  I heard horrible stories about them and I never had any interest in them at all whatsoever.

A lot of the cooking and recipes that I do on this blog now are a lot of new stuff that I’ve never even cooked in a pressure cooker before or cooked at all period.  So this blog almost serves as my own special journey with trial and error while using my electric pressure cooker.  Basically, a lot of the stuff I share is also really new to me.  Unlike many other pressure cooker bloggers, the writers are pros and have been at it for years and years.  But people with that much experience with pressure cooking is hard to come by.  While people with no experience is a dime a dozen.  And among the people with no experience, a percentage of them have little interest.  In fact, quite a few probably have a pressure cooker sitting in their kitchen completely unused or still in its packaging!

So no matter if you’re an electric pressure cooker beginner or a lifetime pro, my blog serves as an adventure for all the people who like to cook and isn’t afraid to cook and try new things.

When I did my contest a few weeks ago, asking readers what they wanted to see cooked on my blog in the future, there were quite a lot of answers of food that actually cannot be cooked in an electric pressure cooker.  It made me realize that many people just don’t really know what a pressure cooker can and cannot do.

So I’ve decided to compile a list of tips and other information that I hope will help everyone know, and understand the wonderful world of pressure cooking.  And please feel free to add any that you may have experienced yourself and that I didn’t cover.

I will try to continuously add to it as well.

  • FEAR OF BLOWING UP:

The biggest fear of using a pressure cooker is blowing up.  I’ve heard stories where food blew up out of some old-fashioned machines covering people’s kitchens and ceilings with sauce and food particles that took days to clean.  Yup, that doesn’t sound like something people want to risk using.  No siree!  That was my biggest fear as well.  When I first started using the machine at the very beginning, I use to stand about 6 feet away from it when I was just testing it out.  Not that 6 feet would have made any difference if the machine decided to blow its gasket and decorate my kitchen with food.  But now the pressure cooker is my best friend.  I put a leash on it and take it out for walks!
The new style of Electric Pressure Cookers are constructed with so many safety precautions that the risk of any blow up is very minimal, and if it does happen, it’s usually caused by user error or damage to the machine itself, which pretty much means you shouldn’t have been using it in the first place if it was damaged..  For instance, if the lid was not secure and in position correctly; if there are cracks or breakage in the lid or hinge areas; or if the rubber seal gasket is not in position correctly.  But usually, if this was the case, the machine would not even allow itself to build up enough pressure.  It will just constantly leak pressure.

  • NO BAKING:

You cannot BAKE in a pressure cooker.  Baking requires dry heat.  Things like casseroles or apple pies cannot be pressure cooked because they require an oven to heat it up and remove the moisture.  In a pressure cooker, these items would become mush.  Dough would never bake brown or crusty.  It would just be soggy steamed dough.
Pressure cookers require moisture to heat it hot enough that the moisture becomes steam.  With the lid and rubber seal in position properly, that steam will begin to build up and start creating a heated compartment of hot steam pressure.  Then the heating element will shut off, and the pressure cooker will use the hot steam pressure trapped inside to cook the rest of the way.
You might be able to get away with pressure cooking a casserole of some kind to start it off.  And then finish it off in an oven briefly to get a brown baked crust on the top of it.

  • BROWNING:

The browning feature in the Elite Pressure Cooker functions by turning on the heating element and using the heat from that to brown or saute foods before pressure cooking it. The only problem I’ve encountered with this feature is that the Pressure Cooker has an automatic shut-off system when it detects not enough liquid is present, so it thinks it’s going to over-heat.  So when you’re browning without any moisture or liquid in the pot, the browning setting will only last about 5-minutes.  Bummer if you’re trying to brown a large piece of roast, etc.  There’s really no way to extend this time-frame unless you add a little bit of liquid, but that would defeat the purpose of browning.
I only use this feature for sauteing or browning smaller cuts of meats really quickly.  I haven’t found the need to really brown a large portion of meat yet.

  • MEATS THAT TURN OUT TOO HARD OR TOUGH:

A lot of people think that the pressure cooker is over-cooking their meat when their end result is super hard, rubbery and tough.  But actually, they’ve under-cooked it.  Large roasts such as roast beef, tenderloins, etc. require more than 60-minutes of cook time.  Sometimes 90-minutes if the meat is really large and dense.  The purpose of the pressure cooker is allowing the meat to be cooked inside long enough so the intense pressure completely disintegrates all the “fibers” that hold the meat together.  Large cuts of meat should be falling apart as you try and remove it from the cooking pot.  It should be tender, juicy and moist.  If you remove the meat and it’s tough, rubbery and you can barely insert a fork into it, that means it didn’t have enough time to thoroughly render out all the “fibers”.

  • COOKING WHOLE CHICKENS COMPARED TO PIECES OF CHICKEN:

Cooking chicken pieces such as legs, thighs, wings and breasts are easy.  If you’re cooking 4pcs, 10-minutes will do the trick.  If you’re doing a bigger portion such as 6pcs or more, 20-30 minutes will do fine. Same with a whole chicken.  30-minutes at the most will get everything cooked thoroughly and falling apart.  I love cooking chicken in the pressure cooker.  It always comes out moist and tender and flavorful.There are so many different ways to cook chicken too.  If you never liked chicken before, you will like it once you’ve cooked it in the pressure cooker.

  • SIMMERING:

I had a reader who recently got a new model of the Elite pressure cooker and he asked me a question regarding simmering or slow cooking in it.
This is what I told him:

I’m not sure if there is a simmering feature that can function like a slow cooker.  It would mean that you need to set a really low heat setting.
The only thing I can think of doing since your model comes with a Keep Warm feature, is to set it to that, leave the lid open and cook food on that lower setting.
Also, I know that if you just press the Start button by itself, it will turn on the browning feature which the heat is at a medium-high setting.  You can simmer food that way with the lid open.  But this setting will cook the food fast.
I don’t know of any other way to use the pressure cooker to “slow cook” though.  The purpose of the pressure cooker is to cook fast.
.
  • FROZEN FOODS:
Cooking in the pressure cooker with frozen foods can be really easy.  And then it can also be a bit confusing.  Just remember that if you’re going stick a giant big frozen slab of roast/whole chicken into the pressure cooker, the machine will need to take some time to thaw it out enough to build up hot pressure inside.  This may sometimes take up to 20-30 minutes just for the letter “P” to appear and for the machine to seal completely.
If you put smaller portions of frozen meats or vegetables inside, then it should build up the pressure fairly quickly.   About the same as normal thawed foods I would say.  Just be patient.
.
  • THICKENING SAUCES & SOUPS:

Many times when you’re pressure cooking vegetables or meats, the pressure within the machine will cause the food to release a lot of its own natural liquids.  This can a put a damper on the dish if you are looking to make something with a thick sauce.  I’ve recently discovered that if you make a really basic Roux at the beginning of the recipe, it will help to thicken the liquids as it cooks.  For a simple and basic Roux, follow the instructions in my recipe for the Fisherman’s Seafood Chowder.

  • PRE-PROGRAMMED MENU BUTTONS:

The Elite series of Pressure Cookers have many pre-programmed menu buttons for a variety of different foods.  I found that most of these work best for making dishes that are at least half of the inner pot capacity (or 3lbs or less).  If you are cooking anything more than half a pot, then I recommend using your own programmed cook times.
I occasionally get messages from readers that tell me that the threw in a pot roast into the pressure cooker and then pressed the MEAT button on the machine.  Well, the meat button only cooks for about 10-20 minutes.  That is definitely not enough time at all for a large dense roast.  It would be perfect for Ribs, Chicken or small pieces of meat though.

  • STEAM/PRESSURE LEAKING:

Sometimes if the lid or the valves are not set up correctly, there may be some leakage of the steam pressure as the machine heats up.  There are three places it can leak from.  1)  The Airtight/Exhaust Pressure Valve Knob; 2)  The Float Valve Hole; 3)  And around the rim of the lid.
If it’s leaking from the Airtight/Exhaust Pressure Valve, then make sure that knob is set to Airtight.  There is no food or debris clogging that area.  Always check the underside of the lid as well.
If it’s leaking from the Float Valve Hole, make sure that little  valve is loose and not stuck. From the underside of the lid, you should be able to use your finger to push up and down on that little valve.  It should move very easily.  If it is stuck or tight in any way, then something is wrong with it.
If it’s leaking from around the rim of the lid, then the lid may not be in position correctly.  Always make sure the lid is hinged on in the back area properly, and that is no crooked.  Also, check that the large rubber seal ring is in position correctly on the underside of the lid as well.

CANNING:  I need help with this one since I’ve never done canning before at all.  If anyone has any input, just shoot me a message and I would love to add your tips to the page.

(UPDATE:  Someone named Peggy emailed me with this awesome tip and info!  hehehehe  Thanks Peggy!)

“I started canning apple sauce and found it to be so easy that I started a garden and plan to can as much as possible. Just fill the canning jars leaving 1 inch from the top, don’t tighten the jars completely and use any size that fits. I put 3 jars in at a time. They cannot touch each other. Add 6 cups of water and set the timer for 15 minutes. That’s it. So damn simple I was amazed.”

DIFFERENT ALTITUDES:  I need help with this one as well since I’ve never cooked at different altitudes before.  If anyone has any input, just shoot me a message and I would love to add your tips to the page.

 

 

**As a side note and completely optional, if you like my blog, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help me out by clicking on the few ads I have now on the site.  It’s completely safe and no spam or malware, and totally free as well.  But every click a reader makes, will earn me some extra $ to fund this blog.  All you have to do is click on an ad you find interesting, and that’s it.  Thanks!!!

  

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

41 Comments

  1. gresham girl on the 12. Jan, 2012 remarked #

    I was very glad to find this blog. i am using my 8qt electric pressure cooker for the 1st time tonight-pretty sure i screwed something up since the pressure kept exhausting thru the entire cook time-but i started with chili. pretty hard to screw that up too much. it may be a while before i try any of your emails but it helps to read things over!

  2. Ricki on the 25. Jan, 2012 remarked #

    I live in Denver – and have found out that you are supposed to increase cooking time 5% for every 1000 ft higher than 2000 ft in altitude.. So – Denver is the Mile High City (5280 ft) – I need to increase cooking time by 15%. Unfortunately – that means I cannot use the presets!

  3. Diana on the 27. Jan, 2012 remarked #

    So glad I found your blog! I used my Cuisineart PC for the first time today. Prosecco Risotto. Turned out great! Wanted to find more recipes and suggestions for cooking times. And here you have done such a wide variety of dishes. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to more cooking with my PC. (Yes, I was a little afraid when I locked on that lid and pressed start!).

  4. Mary Haynes on the 08. Feb, 2012 remarked #

    I love you blog. I too just received a new electric pressure cooker – Margaret- and an scared to use it, but I am going to try 2 of your recipes this weekend. Thank you and I will let you know how they turn out.

  5. Arlene on the 09. Feb, 2012 remarked #

    I have a question, actually, I am new to pressure cooking and I am confused by the get warm setting and releasing the steam. In your chicken recipe, you say to cook for 30 min. and then add another bag of vegetables, and cook for 5 more min. I know this is going to sound really stupid, but do you force release the steam, or do you naturally release the steam, and if so for how long? If your cooker goes to “keep warm” is it releasing the steam?

    • Patty on the 09. Feb, 2012 remarked #

      You may want to test your machine with just water in the pot to get used to using it and know how it functions.

      But to answer your question, yes, you’re “force” releasing the pressure until all the pressure is out (otherwise, you can’t open the lid.)

      If the machine goes to keep warm on its own, it will be in the natural release of pressure and will take longer to drop in pressure on its own.

  6. Jill on the 11. Feb, 2012 remarked #

    I tried the apple and pork dish as my first PC meal. It was wonderful. I made some mistakes, so my advice to all be patient. My 2nd dish was the chicken parmesan. sauteed the onion and mushrooms in pot using that feature,but temp must had gotten too high as after adding chicken to pot, pressure built ok, but cook time switched to warm immediately. not sure what I did, but will continue trying. I have 6q Cuisinart PC

  7. dee lang on the 24. Feb, 2012 remarked #

    I was so glad to find this site now if i can get some easy recipes cause I have no patience when it comes to cooking any longer. I used to love to cook, but after 30 yrs. of my husband telling me “I don’t care whatever we have is fine.” I have just lost interest. I’m hoping with the need to change our diets to heart healthy do to his dbl bypass last year, this may just be the way to regain my patience.I have my fingers crossed that you can help me with the recipes. I have never used a pressure cooker of any kind ever before. Thank You so much for being here on the web.
    Your Loyal Subject! I hope for a longtime to come.
    deelang

  8. Kathy on the 29. Feb, 2012 remarked #

    Looking forward to using my new PC. Your blog is great and has been helpful and I look forward to using some of your recipes.

  9. Kevin on the 18. Mar, 2012 remarked #

    I just wanted to know if you have a hot sausage recipe for my PC !!

    Please Email it to !!!

  10. Elizabeth on the 17. Sep, 2012 remarked #

    I just found your blog, and I’m so happy I did! This is an absolutely fantastic resource for electric pressure cooker recipes. I’m new to pressure cooking, and I’m having a hard time finding new recipes. I will definitely be checking back regularly!

  11. Melissa on the 30. Dec, 2012 remarked #

    I just got a Wolfgang Puck PC. It doesn’t have low or high settings but I’ve figured out the “veggie” setting is low and all others high. Can I just take all your recipes and apply them to my new PC? I assume the answer is yes but I am very timid to use the appliance for fear of failure! It’s surprising to find that there are limited recipes out there for these new appliances. Thanks!!

  12. Juley Brown on the 02. Jan, 2013 remarked #

    My hubby got me an electric pressure cooker for Christmas. I made clam chowder in it for New Year’s Eve and it turned out really good. I saute’d the bacon, ham and onion, then added the ground up clams and cubed potatoes and cooked on low pressure for 5 minutes. Then I turned it to simmer and added the 1/2 & 1/2 and salt and pepper. It was really good. I’m excited about trying other things!

  13. Barbara on the 07. Jan, 2013 remarked #

    Some great advice. I have yet to try canning. I live at about 4,000 feet and haven’t had to make any changes for altitude yet.

  14. Christine on the 07. Jan, 2013 remarked #

    I got the 13 fun elite. I did a couple of things that came out great. I then tried the browning function…noticed that it shut off. I waited about 5 min and the unit would not come back on. I unplugged it…….left it over night…nothing? What happened? Did the brain get fried?

    • Mark Levy on the 30. May, 2013 remarked #

      I had/have the same problem. Did a fuse blow? How do I change it?

      • patee333 on the 07. Jun, 2013 remarked #

        If a fuse is blown, you can get a replacement from the manufacturer and they provide instructions on changing it. It’s pretty simple. Just use a screwdriver and unscrew the little circle panel on the bottom of the machine and you’ll see all the electric wires there.

  15. linda on the 09. Jun, 2013 remarked #

    I recently purchased the elite 13 function pressure cooker and am very dissapointed with it..the pressure does not release on its own,the warm light does not blink the the manual says and when finished cooking there are 6 beeps not 3 like the book says.called the manufacturer and they sent me another valve…no luck!!! going back!!!!!

  16. Robert on the 26. Jul, 2013 remarked #

    I eat a lot of chicken and thought a pressure cooker would be a good way to cook it. However, after several attempts my chicken breasts always come out hard and rubbery. I’ve experimented with the timing, moisture and such but can’t seem to get it right. Any hints?

    • patee333 on the 28. Jul, 2013 remarked #

      I think you may be cooking the breasts for too long. How many are you cooking at the same time? Breasts usually will be good to go in about 10-12 minutes depending on how big they are. And just 1/2 to 1 inch of liquid on the bottom of the pot should be fine as well. I cook chicken almost every other week to shred for my dogs and I’ve never had it come out rubbery and hard.

  17. kalli on the 07. Oct, 2013 remarked #

    I need the oruginal manuel that goes with my elite pressure cooker cuz I. Dont see that you have a simple beef stew recipe whats up with that ?

    • patee333 on the 07. Oct, 2013 remarked #

      If you need the manual, then call up customer service or go to their website and download it. And as far as why don’t I have a simple beef stew recipe? Well, how about because I just don’t feel like it? That’s what’s up.

      • me123 on the 15. Nov, 2014 remarked #

        Since you are so knowledgeable, kalli probably thinks you work for the manufacturer. Thanks so much for all the help and great recipes.

  18. Rhonda on the 03. Jan, 2014 remarked #

    Thank you very much for the helpful information! I’m excited to try out my new electric pressure cooker!

  19. Misty on the 16. Jan, 2014 remarked #

    Finally some great information on this machine. It’s so hard to come by. Please keep sharing with us. My first try a roast came out tough, my second try a pork roast, all the liquid and onion soup mix burnt to the bottom. I used 3 cups of broth and cooked for 50 min. Will try yet again until I get it right!

    • patee333 on the 16. Jan, 2014 remarked #

      Hi,

      Sometimes if you’re cooking a large piece of roast and it’s dense and sits pretty flat on the bottom surface of the inner pot. The heating element is getting too hot and doesn’t detect the actual liquid inside and just keeps heating and heating instead of heating to a point and shutting off and letting the pressure do the rest. So, what I will do is place a few pieces of carrots or potatoes under the slab of meat to lift it off just a bit so the liquid can flow below it. Give that a try and see if it helps.

  20. Lori on the 20. Jan, 2014 remarked #

    Does ANYONE experience with a Cuisinart pressure cooker? When it is up to pressure a great deal (or at least it seems that way to me) of steam comes out of the release valve. I know I have it on correctly. some people say this is normal while others say no seam should come out. Does it depend on how much liquid is in what you are cooking? Any help would be appreciated.

    • patee333 on the 20. Jan, 2014 remarked #

      Sometimes during the pressure building process, a bit of wispy steam may escape but as soon as the valve rises and seals completely, the steam should stop.

  21. kayce. on the 05. Feb, 2014 remarked #

    hi, thank you so much for all this info! i’m thinking of buying an elite 8qt after a friend pointed me in this direction. one of the main reasons i want it is b/c (according to HSN anyway) it has multiple functions and can take the place of both a rice cooker and a crock pot. but you say the crock pot function doesn’t work so now i’m concerned… the sales ladies on the HSN site say it’s “as easy as” just not setting the knob to airtight, but if you’ve been using yours for years and it doesn’t work like this, i sort of don’t want to waste my money.

    (to summarize, i don’t have a ton of storage space in my kitchen and looked to get the elite instead of a rice cooker and hopefully to replace my crock pot… one appliance that does the job of 3 is what i really need to save space. so if it doesn’t fully replace these other appliances, it’s not a good buy for me.)

  22. Jody Chance on the 28. Apr, 2014 remarked #

    My first try at a vegetable gardening last year produced ALOT of tomatoes. Ate them, gave them away, and they still kept coming. Learned the boiling methods of canning years ago, but not thrilled at the idea I doing that when it is hot outside. The USFDA doesn’t recommend using a pressure cooker (vs canner) in canning foods so I immediately decided to try it. Made salsa and a tomato based condiment like Heinz 57 and 9 months later, no food borne illness and the jars that are left are still sealed. I use a metal trivet to keep the jars off the bottom and towels between jars to prevent them from touching. Used the cooker out on the deck so all steam was vented out there instead of heating up the house. Looking forward to more canning this summer!

  23. LindaBontrager on the 06. May, 2014 remarked #

    My husband got me the 6 qt one just last week and I would like to get the canning instructions. Can you tell where I can get it.

  24. Deana on the 07. May, 2014 remarked #

    Caught Amazon running a promo on pressure cookers, got lucky. Has anyone tried – Zon Deal Locator (google it, forgot the url) There is a yellow box that gives discount promo codes for any product on Amazon. Couldn’t believe that I got to choose my own discount. Once I saw the price, I jumped right on it. Just thought I’d share.

  25. Karen on the 31. May, 2014 remarked #

    Any special hints on cooking pasta? I made mac and cheese and it was very good although I would have liked the noodles cooked a little bit more but either the noodles or the cheese burnt on the bottom of the pot so cooking more doesn’t appear to be an option.

  26. Bev on the 24. Jun, 2014 remarked #

    Has anyone had any problem with sticking? I just got my 8qt wolfgang puck and it is starting to stick. Help its brand new.

  27. Dorothy on the 20. Jul, 2014 remarked #

    I just became a proud owner of an electric pressure pan. A problem came up with using the MEAT/CHICKEN function switch. Well, there is NO MEAT/CHICKEN switch on my pan! I do not find a web site to contact the company to ask what they mean. Can you help? My pressure pan is ‘Cook’s Essentials’ 6qt, model K40419/EPC-60F. Help a frustrated lady!

  28. Patsy on the 26. Aug, 2014 remarked #

    I have been scared to death to use the Elite 8qt 13function pressure cooker that my son bought for me six months ago (yes six). After reading your blog and guest comments, I will try it today. Wish me luck!

    • patee333 on the 27. Aug, 2014 remarked #

      You will be fine. Pick an easy recipe and give it a try. Good luck!

  29. BUNS11 on the 30. Aug, 2014 remarked #

    Neighbor bought me large bag of apples. Besides making couple pies, I was wondering if I could make applesauce in cooking pot. Not in jars, but just use cooking pot of pressure cooker?

    • patee333 on the 31. Aug, 2014 remarked #

      You sure can!

  30. Diane on the 07. Sep, 2014 remarked #

    I need more of a variety of recipes that are normal, everyday recipes that I can use with my elite pressure cooker. Is there a cookbook that I can buy that has a variety of normal everyday recipes in it for the elite pressure cooker? If not, can you send me some recipes for chicken and more specifically for chicken breast and some recipes for italian food? I thank you in advance for your help.

  31. Malissa on the 22. Sep, 2014 remarked #

    I would like to see a recipe for pork chops. My family likes pork chops but if I forget to set them out in the a.m. to defrost then I have to make something else. I don’t like defrosting in the microwave.

Leave a Comment