Pressure Cooker Maintenance. Do as I say, Not as I do!
I was reminded last week of the importance of checking your pressure cooker before each use. Sometimes I tend to get a bit lackadaisical until something happens that suddenly snaps me out of it. In this case it was nothing particularly dangerous, but if I could make a dumb mistake like this, who knows what else I am capable of?
I was cooking up a batch of rice to make some fried rice. I put the rice and liquid into my InstantPot electric pressure cooker, put on the top, set the timer and walked away for a bit. I went into the kitchen to check on it, and pressure still hadn’t been reached. “Hmmmm, it usually doesn’t take this long”, I thought. That was when I noticed steam was coming out from the entire circumference of the lid. I scratched my head for a second, then happened to glance to my right, where there in the dish rack was the silicone seal for my InstantPot. “Crap! How could I make such a rookie mistake?”
I turned off the cooker, removed the lid and found a mess. Soggy rice, a good deal of it stuck to the bottom of the pan. It wasn’t burnt fortunately, and I may have been able to salvage some of it, but it was such a mess and I was so angry with myself that into the trash it went, 1-1/2 cups of rice wasted.
Which brings me to the topic at hand. You should check out that everything is in working order before each use. Make sure the seal is inserted properly and that the valves and seals are moving as they should.
On one of my pressure cookers, the handles have a tendency to get a little loose. So that is another thing to check. If a handle is loose, tighten it. Loose handles and hot liquids are a recipe for disaster, as they say.
I still have scars on both my feet from a boiling water accident last year (not pressure cooker related, but another one of those “wake up calls”).
If you notice something is starting to look a bit worn, such as gaskets, o-rings, etc., order a new part and replace it.
On my first pressure cooker, which is approaching three years old. I have replaced every part on the lid over the past couple years. Gasket, o-ring, plastic valve parts, you name it. These are mostly moving parts and withstand high heat, so they wear out eventually.
By just giving everything a once over before each use, you will enjoy your pressure cooker for many (safe) years.