Since I was an absolute beginner when it came to using a pressure cooker (and I somehow lost the manual…), I looked for instructions on the internet lately. Some were plain BS, some just dramatically told elementary stuff and left out the real instructions and, finally, some (especially the relevant forums!) were very informative. I threw everything together and tried it out (BTW – here’s a good article on what a pressure cooker actually does – I won’t describe the principles of pressure cooking here).
So, here’s my personal “Pressure Cooker How To for Dummies” (tested, illustrated and in full color!):
My pressure cooker comes with three relevant appliances: A security-pressure-relief-valve, some kind of a control/regulating valve and the locking/unlocking knob in the handle. Yours will have the same or at least similar mechanisms, but some also come with more (for example some sort of pressure indication pin or the like). Each of these will be adressed here.
Check your pot for any defects, cracks or dings. Do pay special attention to the two valves and check if they’re moving smoothly! Also check the sealing for any cracks or bends. Let’s begin.
Fill in your ingredients (in my case pork bones and water), but remember the min. and max. filling levels the manufacturer specifies.
Close that thing, making sure everything locks into place smoothly and correctly and set your control valve. Mine has three settings: “Pressureless“, “I” (with a little less pressure for low filling) and “II” (with maximum pressure at up to 120 °C and max. filling)
Put it on your stove on medium-high heat (about 7.5 – 8 of 10).
Let it heat up and wait until the security valve begins to open (it will whistle or blow and release steam). Now reduce the heat to low (about 3 of 10). This is where the cooking time given in your recipe begins.
Now try to maintain the temperature so that your security valve just doesn’t open (whistling means you’re loosing water/steam and that’s not what you want). You will have to experiment a little, but you’ll find out the correct temperature setting quickly.
Let it cook for the required time, then turn off the heat.
There are two ways to proceed now:
1. Place the pot into your kitchen sink and run cold water over the lid – it will make crackling and sizzling noises. Rinse it until it is completely cool and doesn’t emit any more sounds.
2. Just let it it sit on the turned off stove until cooled (about 20 minutes).
To open the lid you can now open the control valve (2) and thus make sure the pot is pressureless. My pot has another option: Pushing the release knob (3) on the handle automatically opens the control valve before it unlocks the lid (not all pots provide this feature). DO make sure the pot has cooled down and is pressureless before you open it up! Otherwise you’ll end up in the hardware store selecting a new wall paint for your kitchen – or worse, you’ll end up with some nasty scalds and seeing the doctor.
Now scrape out that delicious shit from the pot and indulge in debaucherous feasting on what you’ve just made!