A pressure cooker blow-up is very dangerous, and most often, the reasons for it are overfilling the cooker with food and water and cooking at the wrong temperature. Also, a faulty cooker and parts that prevent steam release will definitely lead to excessive pressure and a possible blow up. Taking care of these safety issues can prevent such deadly accidents.
Many beginners dread the idea of using a pressure cooker even though it reduces half the work in the kitchen. It is a blessing in the kitchen for many people as it saves time and reduces fuel consumption. But for others, a pressure cooker is very scary because it may lead to massive accidents like a blow-up, if not used properly. Even if it does not actually shatter to pieces, a cooker bursting and spraying scalding liquid in all directions can cause severe burns. The newer models are technologically advanced and have enhanced safety mechanisms. But even though a pressure cooker is safe for use, you need to use it correctly to prevent potential mishaps.
Let’s understand what causes a blow-up and how you can stop them from happening.
Check The Equipment Before You Start Cooking
The main equipment or parts in a pressure cooker are the lids, the rubber gasket, pressure valve, and whistle. Faulty equipment makes your pressure cooker dangerous to use. The scariest accidents happen when your equipment is damaged, defective, and needs immediate replacement.
1. What Happens When The Parts Are Faulty?
When the gasket is cracked, it does not close the lid of the cooker properly. This hampers the cooking and can leave the food undercooked due to a lack of pressure build-up. But most importantly, it can cause the lid to open up accidentally, spraying hot liquid everywhere. If the lid’s locking mechanism is defective, or the pressure release valves are faulty, the steam won’t escape. When excessive pressure of steam builds up inside the cooker, the lid can blow off.
2. Safety Instructions
Here are some safety instructions that you need to follow regarding the equipment.
a) Check whether the gasket or the rubber ring that lines your cooker is not dry or cracked. The rubber or silicone material may get damaged with use. You need to replace it every one or two years to prevent accidents. It will also help your pressure cooker to function normally.
b) Clean the pressure valve frequently and change it periodically. This part is responsible for building pressure and maintaining it to cook the food. A faulty pressure valve does not let the pressure reach the optimum level or allow its safe escape.
c) When you wash the lid and the pot of the pressure cooker, clean the gasket and whistle too. The valve should be properly cleaned so that dried food or froth isn’t stuck inside. Whenever there is debris stuck inside the valve, it can prevent safe pressure buildup and release.
Excessive Pressure Build-up
Any object will burst if there is too much pressure building inside it. Relate the situation to a volcano that erupts due to intense pressure inside the mountain. A pressure cooker can have intense pressure inside it if you overheat it, which causes excessive steam formation inside. Otherwise, the pressure cooker is unable to release the steam safely to ease the pressure inside. As a result, the lid can blow off when the pressure is too high beyond tolerable conditions. Check whether the pressure valve is working or if there is excess foam clogging the mouth.
It is also mandatory that you allow the steam to release before opening the lid naturally. Allow the pressure cooker to cool down and naturally let out all the steam before you try to open it. It prevents accidents and injuries. If you forcibly try to open a cooker when it is still hot, the pressure inside can force open the lid and spray out the contents. Therefore, you need to follow the safe pressure release technique.
1. How Long Should I Wait Before Opening The Lid?
There are mainly three ways of releasing the pressure inside the cooker safely before opening the lid. It depends on what you are cooking and how much content is inside.
2. Slow Natural Release
Here, you need to remove the cooker from the heat and allow it to cool naturally for about 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the amount of content inside. It helps to naturally let the pressure go down until it is safe to open. It is best to use this method when you are cooking starchy items like rice, lentils, soups, stews, etc.
3. Quick Release
You can also wait for a considerably short amount of time using the cooker’s steam release valve to let out the steam fast. Some cookers come with a steam release button or lever to quickly release the pressure and indicate it when done. However, this method is only recommended for fast recipes like boiling vegetables. It also helps to prevent overcooking or over-drying of the vegetables. Do not try this for rice and legumes.
You may also try to combine the slow natural release and a quick release for certain foods and have a better and safer experience.
4. Cold Water Release
The other method, especially if you are in a hurry, is to run cold water over the closed cooker to cool it down fast. Just take the closed cooker to the sink and open the tap from the top. It helps to cool down the excessive heat and release the pressure in a minute or two.
Overstuffing The Cooker
A pressure cooker can burst when it cannot handle too much pressure than its capacity. People often make the mistake of stuffing the cooker with too much food and water.
1. What Happens If You Overstuff A Cooker?
When you fill up a cooker almost to the lid, the steam generated from food and water becomes too high to handle. A pressure cooker can only handle steam pressure to a certain capacity. Too much of food and water inside the cooker blocks the release valves, increasing the pressure inside. Starchy foods like beans will swell up and release a lot of foam, which can block the vents. When the steam cannot escape, the intense pressure may cause a blow-up.
2. How Should I Correctly Fill Up A Cooker?
You should put enough water in a cooker but never exceed the limit. Many models come with markings to make you aware of the recommended limit. Never fill up more than 2/3rds of a pressure cooker with food and water. Limit the level to half of the pressure cooker while cooking rice. Never ignore the maximum capacity of a pressure cooker or the recommended limit to avoid unwanted accidents.
Use Proper Quantity Of Liquid
Cooking in a pressure cooker means you have to abide by the cooking instructions and safety guidelines. One of the essential cooking instructions for a pressure cooker is using an optimum quantity of water. You must know not to exceed the recommended amount of water nor put in too little of it. Both of the conditions are dangerous for cooking.
1. What Happens When I Put Too Less Or No Water In The Cooker?
You are only allowed to put less water to boil the food in the cooker if it releases natural juices in a high quantity. Otherwise, too little or no water is dangerous to heat for a long time. When you put the cooker with less water and do not reduce the heat, the water evaporates too soon and burns the food. Often, there isn’t an optimum pressure build-up needed to cook the food.
Moreover, when you overheat the cooker in this condition, the rubber and silicon parts will start melting. Also, the air and steam created inside from the food keep increasing the pressure beyond the capacity. In such a situation, if the valve is stuck and cannot let out the air and the steam, it will lead to an explosion. The expanding air pressure builds high energy inside, which forces the lid to open and burst the contents everywhere.
2. What Happens If There Is Too Much Water In The Cooker?
The situation explained above is also true when you put too much water in the cooker. If you fill up more than half or almost the entire cooker, the weight and pressure are too much to handle. The vent tube will block due to intense pressure. Usually, the plug or release valve helps to release the excess pressure to maintain normal conditions. But if they do not work due to being blocked by excessive force, the lid ruptures and flies off and sprays hot liquid and foam in all directions.
3. How Should I Determine The Optimum Amount Of Water For The Cooker?
The recommended amount of liquid for a pressure cooker says that you should add at least one water cup to build optimum pressure. You should always add one to a maximum of two cups of water along with the food in the cooker. Never exceed the recommended limit of water until and unless your recipe mentions it. Follow the recipe instructions very carefully.
The Dos And Don’ts Of A Pressure Cooker
|Check whether the gasket and valve of the cooker are working properly and not cracked or ruptured. Replace, if necessary.||Use faulty equipment for cooking.|
|Clean the parts of the cooker to get rid of food debris and dried foam build up. This keeps the vents open.||Use an unclean cooker.|
|Follow the cooking instructions in the recipe very carefully.||Mess up with water and temperature instructions.|
|Cook only at the recommended temperature.||Cook at very high temperature for long.|
|Fill up half to two-thirds of the cooker only based on what you are cooking.||Fill up the entire cooker with food and water.|
|Use recommended quantity of water only.||Use more than two cups of water unless instructed.|
|Wait for the pressure to subside before opening the lid of the cooker.||Open the lid forcibly before it cools down.|
The new age pressure cookers are equipped with the best safety measurements like a secure locking system, limit markings, temperature reading, easy pressure release, indicators, etc. This makes cooking safer and easier in the kitchen. However, it is always better to be safe than sorry after a mishap has occurred in the kitchen. Follow the safety instructions very carefully while handling a pressure cooker even though it is safe and technologically advanced. Always replace faulty equipment for proper pressure build-up and release and ensure putting in only the recommended amount of food and water.