That about describes how many people feel about pressure cookers. They don’t like them.
They are suspicious of the things. They may have heard stories of an old pressure coming loose and blowing contents on the ceiling.
I’ve never seen a cooker “lose it.” Pressure cookers have been my best friend for years, and my only problem was poor maintenance; that was my fault.
Pressure cookers and canners are different only in size. They both work on the principle that steam cooks better than dry heat, such as in an oven.
You can stick your hand inside a hot oven, but steam at half the temperature will scald you.
Increasing pressure increases temperature, but the pressure is always much less than the pressure in your tire, about half.
Cookers are designed for cooking food and large ones are used for canning low acid foods.
My family used pressure cookers for decades, and I inherited two.
The oldest is a Kook-Kwick made by Merit. The very thick, cast aluminum pot was a wedding present to my parents in 1936.
Last year the original pressure gauge failed the test. Parts are difficult to find, but I could weld the gauge hole shut, then tap a new hole that matches the threads on whatever gauge I can find.
The canner I’ve used most is an ugly green Maid of Honor sold by Sears in 1967. Parts are still available for this one, and I’ll replace the gauge this week.
There are various other cookers around the house, mostly from garage sales, but I’ve thought of dumping them all in favor of one of the new generation of pressure cookers.
The pressure cooker’s advantage is that food cooks quickly and with less energy.
You save money by using less energy and are able to use less desirable cuts of meat because they all come out of the cooker moist and tender.
While the new generation of pressure cookers are making a comeback here, they have been widely used in Europe where energy and food are more expensive.
Europeans have advanced the pressure cooker to a safer and easier-to-use level.
Older-generation cookers use a weight as a pressure regulator. It sits on a stem and jiggles to regulate the pressure. The dancing regulator can frazzle the nerves of someone who already expects a cooker to explode anyway.
New pressure cookers are nearly foolproof, but it is a bad idea to walk away and leave them. Pressure is regulated using a spring, and the cookers are easy to use. They are probably safer too.
There many styles of cookers available and many use the dancing regulator, but more makers are following the European spring model.
German cookers are made of thick stainless steel and are expensive, but they will last for generations.
When I do the cooking around here, I prefer a pressure cooker. Anything from rice to soup is quicker in a cooker. During the summer, I appreciate a cooler kitchen.
I enjoy finding the cheapest and least appealing cut of meat and letting the cooker do its magic. The browning and cooking is done in one pot.
I think Americans are ready to take a second look at a very old cooking concept.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, a former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at email@example.com.