A Quick Guide To Pressure Cooker Safety

Pressure cooker safety

I think it’s safe to say that pressure cookers don’t have a good reputation.

When all you can imagine is a pot blowing up from the intense pressure at any time, it’s harder to convince yourself to use it. We all have heard the same stories and made the same assumptions and some have avoided pressure cookers like the plague.

But with new designs and safety features in place, pressure cooker safety has increased dramatically.

With additions like sealed lids, pressure regulator valves and backup vents, pressure cookers are extremely safe, on top of making your life much easier. Imagine cutting the cooking time by more than half!

But to give you some ease of mind, I have listed some pressure cooker safety tips.

In this article I will discuss:

7 Pressure cooker safety tips

Do you want avoid pressure cooker accidents? Follow these tips to make your pressure cooking experience safer and easier.

Check the pressure cooker before using it

Although pressure cookers reduce the cooking time, they do require special care before and after cooking. Before starting to cook, it’s important to check and examine all parts, especially the rubber gasket around the lid.

Make sure that the gasket is clean, free of debris and not cracked. If you’re a frequent user, manufactures advise to replace the rubber gasket every year.

Also, if you own an electric instant pot, make sure your heating element is clean and free of debris as well. Other parts to check are the pressure valves and the heating station. Giving them a wash before using them is also a good idea.

Never leave the pressure cooker unattended

This might be a no-brainer when it comes to pressure cooker safety tips, but it’s important to mention here.

Never leave the pressure cooker unattended. I’m not suggesting that you stand in the kitchen and keep a vigil, but leaving home with the pressure cooker switched on is a bad idea.

If you need to go somewhere and won’t be able to keep an eye on the pressure cooker for a while, switch it off until you get back.

Don't overfill the pressure cooker

Another important pressure cooker safety tip is not to overfill it. Water is a necessary ingredient when cooking with a pressure cooker, but how much water you need to use varies depending on the model you’re using.

If you add too much water, pressure and steam will build up much faster inside and that could cause issues. This is especially true if the pressure cooker is overfilled to a point where the liquids can come into direct contact with the pressure valves.

With an electric pressure cooker, the danger is minimal as they can automatically switch themselves off, but with manual pressure cookers, you need to keep an eye out. In addition, you also run the risk of overcooking your food.

Ideally, a pressure cooker should only be filled two-thirds of the way. And if you’re making liquid dishes like stocks and soups, fill the pressure cooker only halfway.

Prevent frothing in the pressure cooker

To avoid pressure cooker accidents, be extra careful with foods that expand and are prone to frothing.

For example, foods like rice, pasta, cranberry sauce, applesauce and lentils can expand and block the pressure valves, which could cause issues. If you cook items like these in a pressure cooker, make sure to fill it only halfway, giving it enough space to breathe and expand.

Another tip is to use trusted recipes with tried and tested ingredient quantities.

Release pressure gently

Among all the pressure cooker safety tips, this is one of the more important ones. The trickiest part of using a pressure cooker is manually releasing the pressure and opening the lid. If not done properly, it can lead to accidents and severe burns.

There are three ways you can gently release the pressure without harming yourself.

  • First there is the natural releasing of pressure where you just need to take the pressure cooker off the heat or switch it off when it’s an electrical unit, let it cool down and as it cools down, the pressure will drop. After it has cooled down you can just test if there’s any pressure left at all using the pressure relieve valve. This is great for foods that need a longer cooking time because the food will still cook to a degree until it has cooled off.
  • The second way is almost the same as the first with the difference of helping the cooling down process along with water. Take note that it can only be done with cooktop pressure cookers and not electrical ones. Just run tap-temperature water over the unit, taking care to avoid the pressure valves, and this will cool down everything and so reduce the pressure.
  • The last way is the quickest, but you need to be careful here. While wearing a kitchen mit or some other form of hand protection, slowly release the pressure using the pressure release valve. When you’ve done that and see that all the pressure is released, you can open the lid.

Avoid pressure cooker steam burns

No matter what method of pressure release you use, when you open the lid, there is going to be steam coming out. This steam can cause second and third-degree burns.

Therefore, make sure to have the lid facing away from you when opening it. Also, maintain a safe distance between any pressure valves and open skin, especially your face.

Clean the pressure cooker after using it

Once you are done with the cooking and eating part, it’s time to clean up. It’s not recommended to store your food in a pressure cooker, so make sure to transfer the leftovers to another container and thoroughly clean the pressure cooker.

Use a sponge and liquid soap to scrub out the food remains and dry it with a microfiber cloth. Make sure to clean the lid and rubber gasket separately. You can also take a look at the pressure valves to see if any food is stuck in there and if it needs to be cleaned.

Final thoughts

Now that you know how to avoid pressure cooker accidents, you will feel much safer using them.

Pressure cookers are perfect for cooking faster, healthier and tastier food. Once used, it will become a must-have for your kitchen very quickly. If you are still on the fence about whether you need a pressure cooker, read this article to find out how it will make your life easier.

And if you decided to buy a pressure cooker but you’re not sure which one to choose, read here which ones I recommend.

Be sure to follow these pressure cooker safety tips to reduce the risk of accidents and injury.

I will add that it’s recommended to invest in an electric pressure cooker, as they have multiple safety features in place with the added bonus of having more functions, making less noise and less excess steam.