Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Boiling water 101

C****** has been coming by Tuesday evenings & getting some cooking insights.  I will wait while you all stop laughing because yes I would agree I am not the best person to teach anyone how to cook.  Not that I am a bad cook, more that I am a spot cook.  I am prepared to prepare some foods & not others & there are large gaps in basic knowledge (I learned what Crisco was when I was in my 40s; I deep fry NOTHING & make crusts with real butter) while I have worked at areas most other cooks avoid (a souffle rising has more to do with whether or not your bowls, utensils etc. have hard water stains than how well you whip those eggs, trust me).

But none of that mattered last night, because tonight it was pressure cooker basics.  & what could be more basic than boiling water?

Sooooo,  first we boiled water with a regular (not pressurized lid).  Then we boiled black eyed peas with the pressure cooker sealed.  For whatever reason, the cooker WAS under pressure but did not give the signs the manual said it would (we knew this though because we knew how long it would take to boil that water..see how that works?) & when we opened the cooker (after doing all the groovy safety stuff) we found that ten minutes had brought us roughly where soaking for 10+ hours had done.  Did I mention I soaked black-eyed peas for comparison?

We re-pressurized for another ten minutes & had black eyed peas mush (YAY).  Also, this time the signs of pressurization were there.  I found this with my own pressure cooker the first time I used it; it just didn't tick or steam like it was supposed to that first time.

Then we took the whole thing apart, cleaning as per the directions & C***** went home with a bag of garbanzo beans to repeat on her own stove.  Next week, an actual food; this week the black eyed peas will go to the chickens.


  1. What brand and type of cooker do you have? I prefer the whistle-weight type than the valve type. My first pressure cooker was a Prestige. This cooker is a La Cucina (I got on sale at Macy's). I love my pressure cooker. It's awesome!

  2. Last week I had a bit of nervousness while doing up a batch of beans in my pressure cooker. Had to replace the gasket a month or so ago but I've used it at least once with the new gasket. I knew I had put the lid on right, positioned it just so, etc. and the pressure began to build, BUT while the little metal gizmo in the lid that pops up DID pop up, the weight that is supposed to start rocking, never rocked. A lot of steam was escaping, jetting out from the region of the handle toward the center of the lid. I KNEW the lid was on correctly so I kept a close watch on it and at no time did it seem to be collecting a concerning amount of pressure. In fact, it seemed to be unable to achieve its usual amount since so much steam continued to escape and the weight was never inspired to rock. Since it was clear there was SOME pressure in there, I decided to let it go for the full 35 min the beans called for, then turned off the gas and let it cool down w/o help. I wondered if the beans would be cooked but how else to find out w/o letting it run its course? Well, the beans WERE done: cooked yet not mushy. Now able to examine the inside of the lid I discovered a small ~1.5 cm diameter black rubber valve-ish thing where the handle is attached. It looked like it was meant to dangle freely there, ready to be pushed tight to its hole thus occluding it and allow the pressure to build. But instead of hanging freely, it was half jammed like a cross-threaded bottle cap so that it couldn't do its occluding work. What a relief!!! I never knew to check that thing, there's nothing about it in the book. So, if you have a pressure cooker like mine (Presto aluminum, model # 01/PS6), observe the underside of the lid before you put in on to be sure that little black rubber thing is not stuck as mine was. I do love this pressure cooker and I'm so glad there's noting wrong with it.