new videos
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.

more videos from
the PDC here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Which stovetop pressure cookers are worth the cost?  RSS feed

 
                      
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello guys. I've been looking around the internet for a while trying to find thorough reviews written by people who have been using their stovetop pressure cooker for some time. I really want to get one, but I am extremely poor, have no income at current and cannot justifying throwing over 100$ at a piece of equipment whose quality I am not certain of. I cook a lot of taro and often cassava, both of which have longer cooking times, and since I will be using wood as a fuel source I need to make the process as efficient as I can.

So if you have a good bit of experience working with a specific model or models of stovetop pressure cooker tell me about the pros and cons in your experience. I want to hear it all.

Ideally I'd like to find one that is not made in China and has a legitimate warranty. However, after as much as I've looked and found no such thing I'm starting to suspect this might not exist. One review I read was of how the buyer found out after the fact that the manufacturer's warranty only covered the metal of the pot... like that's ever going to be what breaks. Their handle's locking mechanism broke upon second use and they were basically told to screw off by the manufacturer. This is exactly what I want to avoid.
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6016
Location: Left Coast Canada
749
books chicken tiny house
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
An exciting topic. The last two and a half years I tried to convince myself to buy a pressure cooker - but couldn't justify the expense. Finally this January, I took the plunge and I couldn't be happier about it.

Writing from the point of view of a person with limited means and even more limited income, here are the things I considered and what choice I made. Hopefully it will give you some inspiration for making your decisions.

My pressure cooker couldn't be aluminium or have non-stick coating. I personally feel that the health and environmental issues from these two things are not acceptable. Besides, any properly maintained stainless steel pot can can act non-stick if treated correctly. Just don't use metal in it or add salt to cold water - both of which cause scratches or pitting in the pot, thus destroying the smooth, non-stick-like surface it comes from the manufacture with.

The first thing I did was go to the library and get out every book that even thought about mentioning pressure cooking. I wanted to know if pressure cooker would really make that big a difference in my life. I mean, I would only use it to cook about half a cup of dry beans twice a week... what else is pressure cooker for? The books weren't a lot of use except to show me that there is a whole range of things that can be cooked in the pressure cooker. Most of them just focused on getting people who are afraid of old style - rocker and gage - pressure cookers comforted by modern safety measures. Since I'm not afraid of the old style, I found this rather tedious.

The one book that made a difference was Hip Pressure Cooking by Pazzaglia. I ended up buying this book and it's the only one I use for pressure cooking. It also has great info on how to convert recipes to pressure cooking.

Pazzaglia also has a website called Hip Pressure Cooking which includes review on many different pressure cookers available, from all over the world. She's gotten to be so well respected, that manufactures send her pots to evaluate. Free recipes and help forums on that site too.

The pressure cookers I considered buying were, in order of affordability...

Second hand - Go down to the goodwill equipped with a list of pressure cooker makers still in business (and what models they supply spare parts to). It would be $20 for the cooker, and probably $50 for parts and shipping.

Prestige - Fits my non-non-stick and they have models without aluminium. Cheap-ish for a new pressure cooker. I thought about buying this to see if I like pressure cooking, then save up in a few years buy a better one. I'm actually glad I waited and kept saving for a better one. I don't know where this is made, I suspect Europe or India.

Kuhn Rikon - This made it into my shopping basked many times but each time it didn't feel right. I both love and hate the modern look of the thing. The only fault I found with it is that the pressure indicator was tiny and couldn't be seen from the far side of the kitchen - at least that's how it looks online. I think this is Swiss made.

WMF Perfect Plus - This is the brand I bought, but a different model. It was considerably more expensive than I had planed, but I decided that my shoes would last another year with some more glue. Although I'm getting to the point now where there is more glue than shoe, oh well. 4 months later, and I've saved enough on the electric and cooking bill to justify the expense. I like how sturdy and well made it is. The handle detaches from the lid for ease of cleaning. The pressure indicator is easy to see from across the room. The warning sound is loud enough to be heard outside on the farm. It comes with a steamer basket and stand. I'm pleased as peaches with it. But it was an investment that involved eating a lot of dried beans for the last few months - at lease I can cook them quickly now. I think this one is made in Germany.

I haven't had to use my warranty as it's worked perfectly. The warranty, like all pressure cookers, is limited to manufacturing defects and does not cover human idiocy. WMF seems to have a good reputation of working with customers when something goes wrong... but I'm just parroting what I read on the internet. Thankfully we can believe everything everyone puts on the internet, so it must be true.


I've been thinking about using wood as a heat source for a pressure cooker, and wondering how this would work. What kind of set up are you cooking on?

On a hob, the pressure cooker is started on high, then when it comes to pressure, the temperature is quickly lowered. For some electric stoves you need two burners for this, as the hob holds too much heat. You put it on the high burner, then switch it to the low burner. If you are working with a wood or rocket stove, this may work. I noticed on the electric cooker, the difference between low and high pressure is less than two minutes, and the difference between high pressure and 'danger pressure warning' pressure is 40 seconds. From cooking on open flame, I notice that fire can get considerably hotter than my electric hob, so the time between low, high and danger may be shorter together. Also, getting the temperature right to maintain the pressure at the right place may be difficult depending on your setup.

Another thought would be that on the hob, it's important that the burner be the same size or smaller than the base of the pressure cooker so that the heat does not go around the pot and heat up the gasket thus damaging it. Depending on your wood setup, this may be an issue.


I don't know if this helps or not. It's just the thoughts and process I went through when buying mine.

Let us know what you learn and what you decide. I'm especially eager to know how it preforms on a woodstove.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3349
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What kind of wood stove? 3 stone fire, mini rocket, box stove or

Fire getting up the the handles and gaskets can be a problem, but the same problem I have with my gas range with all large burners. You need to match the size of the stove and the size of the cooker or you will have issues, especially with wood as your fuel.

R ranson has a really well thought out decision, not a lot I can add to that part.
 
chad Christopher
Posts: 309
Location: Pittsburgh PA
11
chicken duck forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Presto 01781 23 quart runs around 80bucks, bells and whistles, 12 year warranty.

Presto 01755 16 quart runs around 72, I think the above option is better, for the literal extra few bucks, but slightly same bells and whistles, same warranty, but smaller and good for the 'hobby' canner.

My best advice is to go with 'all American'
They come in sizes, 10.5, 15.5, 21.5, 25, 30, and 41 quart.
Price ranges from 189 to 399 us.
Metal to metal seals, so no replacement gaskets, no risk of gasket melt, well made, 1 year warranty that you can just throw away, you don't need it.
Stainless steel, accurate psi gauge, opposed to plastic. 3 psi settings, and backup pressure release.

The all american warranty is on all parts. The presto is on the metal, but replacement parts are cheap. I really like the idea of the metal to metal seal, even if the world ends, never buy a gasket again. And, it's obviously made in America.

All american also uses a heat resistant modern version of 'bake-lite' which doesn't degrade with heat exposure.
 
C. Kelley
Posts: 31
Location: zone 4b/5a Midcoast Maine
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Seconding the recommendation for an All-American. We were given the 40qt+ model by a group of friends when we got married, and it's been my hands-down favorite wedding present ever. It's the thing I would save from a house fire, except it would probably survive on it's own to be fished out of the ashes intact. They're solid cast aluminum, made in America (wisconsin, specifically), the metal-to-metal seal only ever needs a bit of olive oil to keep it lubricated. My husband sold commercial restaurant equipment for years, and the All-American line is considered the gold standard of quality even in the restaurant world. Bonus, it's a legal piece of equipment to use to process goods for commercial sale in the US (so when we are ready to start selling canned soups from our restaurant, I already have the most expensive piece of equipment.)

I've used it for several years now for everything from cooking beans to canning 22 quart jars of cooked chicken meat at a time (I also used it to cook the chickens, by far the easiest way to handle storing the meat from 45 young, scrawny roosters! And it's SO SO SO nice to have a handy) jar of home grown meat available to use for Lazy Dinners).

I could go on for hours singing the praises of my All-American, but I'll stop. By far my favorite thing in my house that isn't alive. Pricey - our model retails for over $400 regularly - but not getting the very biggest one (I'm 5' and I can actually climb inside it and pull the lid shut. I win all the hide-and-seek games.) and keeping an eye out for sales and clearances will help cut the cost significantly. They're a screaming bargain at twice the price even so....I fully expect to hand this piece of equipment down to our as-yet-hypothetical children, probably in exactly the same condition it came out of the original box in. Bonus points, replacement parts are cheap and easy to find - All American has been around for years and isn't going anywhere either.
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6016
Location: Left Coast Canada
749
books chicken tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow, those All-American pressure cookers/canners look like an impressive piece of equipment. If I was still on the market for a pressure cooker, this would go on my consideration list.

Not needing a gasket is a fascinating idea. With a regular pressure cooker, having to replace the gasket every few years, if I use the cooker or not, seems like a pain. Definitely a plus for the All-American.

I wonder how the system would hold up to the wood stove or cooking over fire. Benefit of not having the rubber gasket, but then there are those handles for affixing the lid. Anyone ever used one of these over fire?

If I were buying this for my home use, the size would be a huge drawback. Even the smallest one is HUGE for me. The size is so daunting because of the way I use my pressure cooker - which is probably quite different from most. I use it for cooking dried pulses of course. But I also use it for my 'fast food' alternative. For health reasons, I prepare everything I eat from scratch. It basically means that the pantry is filled with ingredients and no ready to eat foods. Occasionally things happen. After spending 20 hours helping a ewe give birth to a troublesome lamb, using yesterday as an example, I'm pretty hungry and want a substantial wholesome meal instantly. 2 hours in the oven or half an hour in the pressure cooker - hmmm... Just a little meal, two servings. I lothe leftovers, so almost always cook fresh. That's just my pressure cooking style, so I have the monstrous 6 quart size cooker for those times when I want to do a whole meal in one pot cooking - steamer tray is awesome. If I didn't do that, the 4 quart would be plenty large enough for me. (remember for those of you new to pressure cooking, you can only use two thirds the inside space for food, or one half for pulses - so a 4 quart pot cooks maximum 2 quarts of chickpeas, including cooking water)

The only other thing to consider with the All-American, is that some people feel that aluminium coming in contact with their food poses a health risk. I imagine the All-American would make an awesome canner, however, it may not match everyone's cooking style as a pressure cooker.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3349
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you want to pressure cook in all all American, you should probably buy a stainless pan that fits nicely inside. You could buy a stainless stacking oriental lunchbox or camping pots and stack a whole multi course meal at one time.

Not needing a gasket is a definite plus, and it is heavy enough that using it on a controlled fire isn't a problem. But it is a lot heavier than a dedicated cooker and uses more heat to get going. It is great for big groups or long cooking times, but probably not the right answer for daily cooking for one or two.
 
C. Kelley
Posts: 31
Location: zone 4b/5a Midcoast Maine
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yeah, my All American is definitely a large-volume cooking solution. I have used it with great success (and great pot holders) over a well-controlled open blaze on a well-built fire ring - technically a "three stone stove" but made with a good deal more than three stones, carefully chosen and placed.

For the times when I do the style of cooking you describe, I have a Presto 6-qt that I found at the Goodwill hardly used. I live in a fairly rural (poor) area where the Goodwills tend to be really picked over, and even then I run across them in good shape a couple-few times a year (and I am by no means a thrift-store haunt, I go every so couple of months when I'm looking for a particular thing). For the $4-$10 they're usually priced at, I can get a large number of replacement gaskets for the price of buying one new cooker...
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 1786
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
195
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Y'all are so knowledgeable about stovetop pressure cookers that I wanted to ask a similar question but with respect to electric counter-top models. So as not to derail this thread, I made a new one:

Feedback on or brand recommendations for ELECTRIC pressure cookers?

Thanks!
 
teresa quintero
Posts: 31
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wonder if a silicon insert could be used instead of stainless steel, or if one could be found....
 
                      
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you guys so much for all the information. I need some time to read these links and do some further investigations of my own from there, but this is tremendously helpful. I suppose I should have mentioned in my initial post that I was looking for a stainless steel only - I just won't deal with aluminum, period. Regardless, thank you to C. Kelley and Chad for all your input on those models. I will only be cooking for myself and have no refrigeration, so I wouldn't be able to make practical use of the ginormous 40+ quart sizes.

As to the method of wood fire I'll be using, I want to first experiment with "3 stone" types. Then, since I'm currently in an area with a lot of adobe in the ground, I want to next make and mess with something I'd say is closest to a traditional hettsui, but primarily out of stone (https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/07/0f/6a/070f6adb51b63df61888d49a6d0daa65.jpg
<--- copy link to image to see basically what I have in mind). I will be able to control the size of the area the heat comes in closest contact with this way, so I anticipate that being the better of the two options. I mainly want to try out "3 stone" because I will be moving around a lot, and won't always be in an area where I have previously had the time and resources to have built a little stove. I want to see if its even a viable option.

I've been gathering a lot of dead wood from the neglected trees around here that nobody prunes over the last several days, so that by the time I have made a decision as to which model I'll get I'll have a good store of fuel to tinker with. I will certainly post my conclusions on these experiments once they've taken place.
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 1786
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
195
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Today's garage sale steal: a 1972 Mirro 16-quart Model #0406 aluminum pressure canner, with all its parts and racks. I paid $5.00 for it. The gasket is hardened with age and will need replacing ($15) but I'm still pleased with the find.
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6016
Location: Left Coast Canada
749
books chicken tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Fantastic find. Let us know how it works when you get the new gasket.
 
Lizzie Day
Posts: 11
Location: Victoria, Australia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Assuming you already have cookware of some sort, why shell out for a pressure cooker at all? You can make a haybox cooker for nothing, or a wonderbag for only a few dollars - retained heat cooking is perfect for veggies and legumes, etc, that have a long cooking time. I'm not dissing pressure cookers, I have one myself....but I use a wonderbag more than I use my pressure cooker.
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 1786
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
195
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The biggest reason to use a pressure cooker is to save time, which also means saving energy/fuel. Retained-heat cooking is another way to save on fuel expenditure, but it's a negative on the time side of the equation.
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6016
Location: Left Coast Canada
749
books chicken tiny house
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hay box and retaining heat are great for many kinds of cooking.

However, some foods are better cooked faster. For example, dried beans and grains are difficult for many people to digest unless rapidly boiled for 1 to 6 hours or pressure cooked for 4 to 15 minutes. A pressure cooker saves a great deal of energy - four hours boiling chickpeas on the stove, or fourteen minutes in a pressure cooker... hmmm. I find pressure cooked beans to be much easier to digest than simply boiled ones, and slow cooked beans give my gut enough pain to send me to hospital.

Pressure cookers also create excellent flavour in a short period of time. I recently made my childhood favourite split pea soup. It use to take 3 days, ten hours cooking each day to make this soup when I was growing up. In the pressure cooker, I made it in under an hour with just as wonderful depth of flavour, perhaps better.

Slower and more traditional cooking methods are my preference for most meals, but when energy concerns are an issue, or for people like me who cannot eat commercially prepared foods and do not necessarily have time to plan a meal in advance, that's when the pressure cooker shines. For example, my sheep was in and out of labour for three days (sister to the ewe I mentioned in an earlier post). I ate all the leftovers during that time, and couldn't go out to shop for fresh foods because I knew from the way she was acting, the sheep would need immediate intervention when her time came to actually pop out the lamb. Being during the hunger gap, there was little to eat in the garden. By day four, all that remained in the house was ingredients, mostly dried beans and other long storing staples. After much effort by the sheep and I, the lamb pops out late on the fourth day. I'm starving as I hadn't left her side all day. No food. By this time, I need something more substantial than pasta and olive oil, so what can I do? Can't order pizza (due to allergies). Pressure cooker saves the day. In about 30 minutes I'm eating a wholesome ministoroni style stew that would have taken at least 4 hours to cook on the hob, and a great deal longer with slower heat (and be harder to digest). It also used up the lingering shriveled up bits of vegetables that I would have normally fed to the chickens if I had had the time. It was one of the most satisfying meals I've had in a long time.

So basically, it's great to have a full arsenal when approaching cooking. Even if one doesn't use a pressure cooker or a hay box in their daily cooking, it is good to know how to use them.

 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 1786
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
195
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
R Ranson wrote:Wow, those All-American pressure cookers/canners look like an impressive piece of equipment. If I was still on the market for a pressure cooker, this would go on my consideration list.

Not needing a gasket is a fascinating idea. With a regular pressure cooker, having to replace the gasket every few years, if I use the cooker or not, seems like a pain. Definitely a plus for the All-American.


I have been using one of my garage-sale aluminum Mirro pressure cookers to cook dogfood. (I have an electric pressure cooker that I use for cooking my own food.) Unfortunately due to operator error the gasket on my garage-sale one got too hot and expanded beyond my ability to stuff it back inside its little clips in the lid. So I was simmering dogfood in a no-pressure cooker and it was taking forever and burning a lot of propane.

Then yesterday I found a genuine antique for $10 at a garage sale. It's an ancient aluminum pressure canner, an "Improved Kook-Kwick Steam Pressure Cooker #9" apparently sold by Sears Roebuck sometime between 1910 and WWII. It had all its parts and appeared to be in functional condition. What caught my attention was its no-gasket design -- it has a tapered lid that is clamped inside a three-part hinged band that binds the lid to the pot and seals with a bolt.

I considered buying it for my "zombie apocalypse" pressure cooker, by which I mean, a pressure cooker that doesn't eat consumable gaskets that might not be obtainable if the world gets chaotic and unpleasant. (Not having to worry about those gaskets when cooking over an open flame would be a bonus also in such circumstances.) But I don't really have enough slack in my budget to be spending $10 on prepper stuff right now. So I almost passed. And then I realized that its tall design means that even though it holds nine quarts it's no bigger around than my Mirro of half that capacity. Which means I could stow it in the same place in the fridge as my Mirro when it's full of cooked dogfood, and I'd only have to cook dogfood half as often. "Sold!"

After careful cleaning, inspection, and lubrication, I carefully (cooker not near anything I value, me not loitering in potential blast zone) brought it up to pressure today without incident. The gauge is marked from zero to 25 lbs of pressure, with the red "caution" zone being marked between 20 and 25psi. I brought it up to about 22 psi on the gauge (which I don't exactly trust to be accurate) at which point the safety pressure relief valve began to emit puffs of surplus steam as expected. Fortunately there was no kaboom. Given that a copy of the manual found online (I love the internet) said the valve should release at 22 psi, I'm going to say the gauge is accurate enough for my purposes.

My cooking regime for the dogfood is to simply bring it to 15psi (the max my Mirro could obtain) and then let it sit and cook after turning off the burner, so I feel pretty safe and confident using this antique for that purpose. I know it's old and could theoretically have flaws in the metal, but it's also hugely overdesigned in that ridiculously solid way that things just aren't any more. If it didn't kaboom during my test, I think I'm fine to use it at substantially lower pressures. (I should emphasize that this is a highly personal risk assessment, I emphatically do not recommend that others do anything similar, nor do I make any general safety claims. I'm just saying that I'm comfortable with the risks as I understand them.)

Needless to say I am pleased with my find.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
 
Water! People swim in water! Even tiny ads swim in water:
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!