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Pressure-Cooked Stocks: We Got Schooled.

November 22nd, 2009 · 72 Comments · Pressure Cooker

posted by Dave Arnold

For years Nils and I have maintained that pressure cooking stocks and broths is the way to go. We’ve always said that the high temperature in a pressure cooker gives better extraction and meatier flavors than normal cooking. Turns out we were wrong. Sort of.

Conventional stock vs pressure-cooked. Who wins?

While I hate being wrong, this particular error taught us a lot – including:

  • All pressure cookers aren’t created equal. The cooker you use affects flavor.
  • Pressure cooking can be used to modify conventionally cooked stocks.
  • Not all stock ingredients react the same way in the pressure cooker.

So what’s going on? Here is our journey:

I was planning to write a post on the superiority of pressure cooked stock. As a formality, I set up a blind taste test between conventional and pressure-cooked stocks. I had no doubt the pressure cooker would win. I chose white chicken stock because it is simple, doesn’t cook as long as veal, and has fewer variables than a brown stock. We weighed out two identical amounts of chicken, mirepoix, herbs, and water and pressure-cooked one for 45 minutes and let the other one simmer on the stove for 2 hours. We strained both stocks and weighed what was left. The conventional stock had reduced more than the pressure-cooked stock (by 10 percent) so I added enough water to it to equal the volume of the pressure cooked stock. Some of the interns had a problem with this step but it is the only way to compare two stocks properly.

Two batches of identical ingredients

We tasted both stocks blind.

The aroma of the pressure cooked stock was clearly superior. The color was deeper as well (because of this all future tests were done actually blind –with our eyes closed). Unfortunately the conventional stock tasted better. It had a stronger chicken flavor and was better balanced overall.

I was distraught. We tasted again. Same result.

I had the interns make another batch of stock. Same result.

Then we decided to test each individual ingredient separately. We did side by side tests of chicken only, celery only, and onion only (the carrot got 86’ed by accident). The conventional chicken won. Loss. The celeries were both good, just different. The pressure-cooked one tasted more like celery tea and the conventional one tasted more like soup. Testers almost all preferred the conventional celery. Loss again. The pressure-cooked onion clearly won –thank god. Pressure cooked onion had a big, round, sweet flavor. Conventional onion was useless. Win.

The win with the onion broth wasn’t enough to keep Nils and I from being pretty depressed. I lost sleep over the matter. I had one more test up my sleeve.

I took 4 liters of conventional chicken stock from the restaurant and pressure-cooked half while the other half simmered on the stove. This time, I didn’t use the school’s pressure cooker, I used my own. When I compared the two stocks side by side the pressure cooked one was far browner. I hadn’t thought the pressure cooker would change the color of a pre-made stock. When we tasted them the pressure-cooker won! Finally.

I then ran the same test with the school’s pressure cooker and the pressure cooker lost. WTF?

Turns out all pressure cookers aren’t the same. All pressure cookers reach similar temperatures –approximately 250 F (120 C) at 15psi; but the way they regulate pressure is different. The pressure cooker at the school, made by Iwatani, uses what’s called a jiggler to regulate pressure. A weighted jiggle-top sits on top of a tube.  The steam pressure builds up in the tube until it is strong enough to lift up the jiggler and let the excess steam escape.  The valve makes a continuous chu-chu-chu-chu sound as it operates. You want to adjust the heat so it doesn’t chu-chu too fast, but steam is always going to escape. There is no other way to know whether the pot is hot enough. Theoretically, the pressure gauge on the lid should allow you to cook just below the point where the jiggler lets steam out, but in practice the gauge doesn’t work properly.

Iwatani's top. I liked the idea of the gauge but it doesn't work. The steam release valve on the left is nice (it should be standing up when you are cooking). I don't like the jiggler. On the bottom side, however, there is a screen filter to protect the valve which is a nice touch.

Another common pressure regulator on inexpensive pressure cookers uses a rotating switch that allows you to set the pressure at 15 psi, 5 psi, or to release the steam pressure entirely.  This type of regulator also requires escaping steam to indicate proper pressure.

Fagor style pressure cooker. My problem with this style of cooker (other than it allows steam to escape) is that the pressure valve gets clogged easily and is difficult to clean.

My pressure-cooker, made by Kuhn Rikon, uses a different type of regulator.  It has a spring valve that moves up and down; it both regulates and indicates pressure. When the valve stem rises enough to see the first red ring you have 5 psi.  When you see the second red ring you have 15 psi. No steam escapes. If you heat the pot too much it lets steam escape to tell you to turn the flame down.  Once you comply it goes silent again. Nice.

Kuhn Rikon's top.

I have known for a long time that less liquid evaporates in my pressure cooker than in the other types.  This becomes especially apparent when you are cooking for several hours as we sometimes do (for softening spices, etc).  I hadn’t thought that the escaping steam would affect taste as well, but I should have - it makes sense.

We ran one more test. Conventional for 1.5 hours vs. the school’s pressure cooker for 45 minutes vs. my pressure cooker for 45 minutes vs. the school’s pressure cooker for 20 minutes (in case we had just been cooking too long and blasting the flavor away).

Dueling pressure cookers: Iwatani front, Kuhn Rikon back.

The results:

My pressure cooker won, followed by the conventional cooking;  both of the school’s pressure cookers scored lower. I feel a lot better.

But we still need more tests. And more will come.

PS: Many cooks have an intutitive feeling that pressure cooking stocks is a bad idea.  Their reasoning isn’t related to the previous discussion and isn’t born-out by our tests. Here are the reasons they usually give (and my responses):

  1. Pressure cooking will make the stock cloudy. That is incorrect. The boiling in a pressure cooker is no more violent than in a pot, so stocks don’t get any cloudier. We have done many side-by sides to prove this.
  2. Pressure cooking extracts bitter components. No one has detected bitterness in pressure cooked stock we’ve made.
  3. Not being able to skim the stock will introduce off-flavors. We have not noticed this in any of our tests.

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72 Comments so far ↓

  • adey

    Have you used a thermal cooker? I use a 7 litre, brown all ingredients, bring to boil while skimming, off the heat into the outer pot and leave it for 12hrs. For me, better results.

    • Dave A

      Is that a slow cooker? We haven’t tried it.

      • Chuck

        Thermal cookers are popular in asian countries, but now found in import cookware stores everywhere. Thermos brand is the most popular. They only require heating of the contents initially on the stove, then the pot is transferred into the thermos, and the food “cooks” in it’s own residual heat, with the thermos keeping in the heat. It’s basically a “cordless” slow cooker. see a description at: http://www.galtak.com/thermos.html

  • Bren

    I swear by pressure cookers and have about 7 or so, between vintage ones with jigglers and new Fagor models which don’t allow to set PSI, which is important. I also have vintage ones (MiroMattic) which have the jiggler regulator does does allow to set PSI. I’ve never had an issue making stock in any of the pc’s, though I suspect the issue in your, or any other case may be a matter of length of cooking time (simmering will allow for flavors to really set it in), while pressure cooking (way faster) will just get the job done. I think the trick is to set the pressure cooker on 5 psi and use less water in order to allow the ingredients to really do their thing since their going to release a lot of their own water anyway. And like you said, not all pressure cookers are made equally! :)

  • hakim

    At the back of the Big Fat Duck Cookbook, there’s a section about pressure cooking stocks that gives a pretty strong argument in favour of doing so.

    • Dave A

      Hi Hakim,
      Just looked it up. Notice the picture shows Kuhn Rikon cookers. The kind I like. The kind that won our taste tests. His arguments don’t hold on pressure cookers that let steam escape.

      • hakim

        Hey Dave,
        They’re also using induction burners rather than gas. With an exact temperature like that, you eliminate the chance of steam escaping, which means a clear stock and you keep all the volatile compounds he talks about. You could maybe try the Iwatani on an induction (assuming it can be used on one) to see if you can keep the jiggler from releasing steam.

      • Derrick

        So Kuhn Rikon is the way to go if one were in the market for a PC?

        • Dave A

          I like them. We just got a pressure canner and are getting a sterilizer lid for it. I might like that better. Dunno yet.

      • ChrisD

        Dave A.,

        Would a steam escape coupled with Agar clarification solve this issue?

        - Chris

  • Roger

    I believe a thermal cooker is one that just insulates an already-heated vessel so that it finishes cooking with residual heat…no added heat.

  • AJ

    Mind adding the cuisinart electronic pressure cooker into the mix? Might be just the thing for consistent results.

    Also what about safely sealed containers inside the pressure cooker? (ie pressure canned stock)

    looking forward to more results!

  • AJ

    Also, I think adey is talking about a cooking thermos. You heat the stock on the stove then put it into an insulated container to make a long steeping tea

  • joesan

    We’ve been having a discussion about this over on eGullet for the last month or so – http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/129822-pressure-cooked-stocks/page__gopid__1714394&#entry1714394

    I’ve read somewhere that the PC stocks may well be less cloudy because there is less movement of the liquid when under pressure versus at a simmer on a normal stockpot. Also from observation most home cooks have their stocks at a more rapid simmer than optimum giving great liquid loss and potentially more cloudiness. To me it stands to reason that if you can smell it in your kitchen those volatile aromas are being lost from your stock.

    Dave – one thing I’ve been intrigued about is the possibility of not skimming the “scum” of the top of the liquid. These items are always described as coming from impurities but why shouldn’t they introduce flavourful elements to the stock. After all you wouldn’t dream of skimming away the “fond” on a pan. Admittedly I’d like to not have to skim as it’s a pain (although Heston blanches his protein and then adds to the pressure cooker so that’s one way around it) but potentially it could actually add to the flavour profile.

  • Porter

    I second the look at the cuisinart electric pressure cooker. Shola at Studiokitchen had done a miso-based ‘fake’ chocolate with his pressure cooker a while back and I tried to replicate. He used the electric and I had a stovetop with a spring valve. His results were fantastic, ending with a flavor similar to bittersweet fondant. Mine tasted like burnt rotten miso.

    He tried the recipe again using the electric vs stovetop and got very different results from both.

    I’ve yet to try it again with the electric, but I have a feeling the success is in the equipment.

  • Joel Wabeke

    I worked at The Hind’s Head (The Fat Duck’s Gastropub next door) and we had a tilt skillet pressure cooker where all pressure stocks were made and they were really good.

    • Dave A

      Interesting. Tilt skillet pressure cookers usually only go to 5 psi. Do you know about the one you used?

  • robert millman

    I have beenusing a modified stovetop reflux pot still from ebay to make stocks. It keeps in almost all of the aromatics while simmering and really concentrates the flavors.

  • jeremiah bullfrog

    pressure cooker stocks are fast and easy, using a CVap for stocks is slow and easy

  • Tom Drake

    Guess we’ll have to get some commercial size pressure cookers for the Level 4 kitchen.

  • Niklas

    Hi, does anyone know what regulator the WMF pressure cookers are? Good taste or bad taste? I’m about to buy one.

  • Chris

    Hi Dave, we have been using an Iwatani on induction with good results. But there is still some steam escape. Very fast and we only do just brown stocks. It would be interesting to see the results with brown stocks… PC vs conventional. I think that is where you would see an even more noticable difference. Thanks for sharing your tests and results guys.

  • Chris

    Hi Dave, I agree with your comment on the variables with brown stocks in comparison with a chicken stock. In my opinion pressure cooked brown stocks are meatier in flavor, more concentrated and clearer than stocks we produce in a conventional or “classic”? way. We have not changed the way we prepare our brown veal stock for instance except for the cooking and the appliance we cook it in. For sure there is variables, but the results for us is noticeably better with the pressure cooked brown stocks. Also I do recognize that included in the variables may the true definition of a brown stock as there is definately many ways to skinning that cat! Anyways thanks again for sharing. Looking forward to the turkey!

  • Andrew Janjigian

    I have for a long time done my stocks in the pressure cooker, to great results, though I have felt conflicted about it, since most recipes call for slow and low. Thanks for verifying my experience with your experiments.

    I don’t see an explanation for WHY PC stock is better in this post, and why the leaking PCs failed. Did I miss it? My take is that it’s probably a combination of the higher temperatures/pressures extracting more of the good stuff. At the same time, liquids heated under pressure don’t boil, so stocks in a sealed PC actually cook more gently and uniformly than in an open stockpot.

    I think the skimming question is an interesting one to explore further. When I pressure cook soups, stews, stocks, etc., there is never any scum to skim, and the final product never seems worse for the wear.

    • Dave A

      My theory is that pressure cooking does extract more than conventional cooking, but, more importantly forms meatier flavors than conventional because of the higher temperatures. This theory is born out by the fact that pressure cooking an existing stock makes it turn browner (apart from any reduction effects). To me, this brownness indicates some form of maillard happening (contrary to popular belief maillard reactions don’t only take place in the absence of water). Also, a non-venting pressure cooker won’t lose volatiles from the pot (although some volatiles might be degraded from the higher heat. I don’t have a GC-mass spec to check). I haven’t investigated the skimming part but my experience is the same as yours.

  • Andrew

    Dave -

    I think you are right about higher temps inside a pc producing Maillard reactions; it’s not the presence of water per se that inhibits them from occurring, only the fact that water at 1 ATM can’t get to the temps needed to produce them.

    I find my pc stocks richer and more gelatinous, or at least they get to that point far more quickly, which I assume is a result of the higher temps and pressure breaking down the proteins in the meat more quickly/thoroughly.

    I think the other great benefit of the sealed PC (aside from the fact that volatiles are retained) is the fact that the liquid in the cooker never boils, which means the contents can see high/higher temps with a minimum of agitation. Thus PCing is paradoxically both intense AND gentle at the same time.

  • schinderhannes

    Have you ever tried the brute force chemistry attac way of cooking a stock (slightly salted?)

    I could imagine an extremely concentrated flavor if you use the trick they utilize in making bouillon cubes:
    Cook your bones and stuff in dilute hydrocloric acid then neutralize with sodium hydoxide! In a pressure cooker…
    Or vice versa cooking in the alkaline (would gratly enhance maillard reaction) neutralize with HCl.

    Caveat:
    you should not run this in metal containes (Like staight in the PC. HCl would dissolve some metals out of the stainless and kill the flavors. ). I would put all ingredients into a Tupperware container, seal it and put this into the PC with some additional water around. You will get the same temp and pressure in the containes as around it. But not fumes at all will escape. (This would also be a nice control to compare different PCs with your std. recipe: this way all PCs should be equal. maximur volatiles retained.)
    Careful in the cooldown though! If you chill too quickly or vent the prsesure off, the still hot container inside will open and all the chemical waste will be boiling over.
    Worth a try?

    • Dave A

      Schinderhannes,
      Holy crap! Have you tried that? I can get muriatic acid and lye wihout having to go to the chem supply store (sooo expensive) just to test, but i’d need to get a titration rig to figure out how much lye to add, wouldn’t I?

      • schinderhannes

        You Americans can drive one crazy with your ancient names no one in Europe uses anymore LOL
        Had to lock it up: muriatic acid is HCl (hydrochloric acid) and modern Lye is sodium hydroxide so there you are all set.
        I wouldn’t bother titrating this, even having all the equipment around. Get some pH paper (or litmus paper) and go slowly in the neutralization. Also if you give me the specs on the chemicals it is easy to calculate the equimolar amount one would need.
        Say you have a 10% hydrochloric acid, and add 50 ml of that to a liter of your starting mixture.
        There are tables to look up the molarity of HCl solutions cause this is not quite linear. (eg. n Wikipedia)
        10% is 2.9 mol per liter. 50 ml is 2.9 over 20 is 0.145 mol of HCl. Caustic soda (another name for lye) has a molecular weight of 40g per mole so 0.145 mole is 5.8 g.
        Whatever you add first in the cooking don’t matter, you should add the equivalent mount of the antidote afterwards. (maybe add 90% of it then start with the litmus paper….)

        BTW: No I have never tried this, but always wanted to. First need a new pressure cooker, recently switched to induction heating and my old Fissler one is completely non magnetic stainless…

        • Dave A

          Schinderhannes,
          i’m pretty sure wordpress will kick this reply to a new thread. I’ll look into trying the technique. Also, I know it is defeating the purpose, but couldn’t you buy one of those steel plates to turn your induction unit into a conduction heating unit?

          • schinderhannes

            One of those steel plates?
            I´d love to have one where I could convert my giant burner into a teppan yaki filed. Looked around din´t find anything like it in Germany. Any sources by chance? (PM if you don´t want to poste an ad…)

          • Dave A

            Emile Henry makes one. I found a link in the UK, so at least it is in the EU. https://www.goodcookshop.com/sp/cookware/accessories/induction-converter-disc/1377

          • Barzelay

            This is an interesting side-topic on bouillon techniques and basic and acidic extraction environments.

            Are those acids and bases food-safe, even when neutralized? I guess I had always assumed that the reaction neutralizing those substances would produce some other toxic compounds. Looking it up I find that the reaction between HCl acid and sodium hydroxide produces water and sodium sulfate. So, at what concentrations is sodium sulfate food safe?

            Either way, why are hydrochloride and sodium hydroxide better than acetic or citric acid and sodium bicarbonate or ammonia? Is it because they’re stronger and therefore require less of them to effect the pH changes, so they won’t end up altering the flavor as much? Or is it because using weak acids and bases means they won’t completely dissociate and you’ll have to titrate with strong acids or bases anyway? Sorry for my rudimentary chemistry knowledge.

            Also, by the way, let me put in a vote for testing the Cuisinart pressure cooker. The mechanism for letting off excess pressure is a weighted release valve similar to the Iwatani, but the heat and pressure are regulated electronically to maintain the contents at the chosen pressure (which, unfortunately, is either 6psi on low, or 10psi on high, supposedly), so barely any steam escapes during cooking (certainly not an audible amount). I understand that there are certain disadvantages with a maximum of 10psi, as opposed to 15, but the control and efficiency make the Cuisinart pretty wonderful. The other main disadvantage is the limited maximum cooking time (though it just means someone has to be there to tell it to keep going).

          • Dave A

            Hi Barzelay,
            I haven’t used the Cuisinart. I think that is the electric job that Steingarten likes. It is a pity about the low pressure. We’ll have to do the acid base tests in the new year.

          • schinderhannes

            Hi Barzelay
            sorry for reading this so late….
            but i still need to answer:
            neutralizing in general take away toxicity (if you can call a strong base toxic, by beeing corosive, i guess this is more a linguistic problem though..)

            The chemistry is as follows
            Acid + Base gives Water and Salt.

            HCl and NaOH gives H20 and NaCl
            hydrocliric acid and sodium hydroxide gives wate and Sodium chloride, table salt, not sodium sulfate as you wrote. Thats what you get when you use sulfuric acid……

            BTW: this is of cause purely academic, Dave already proved spectacularely that using Base to boost stock making generates a truly amazing soapy crapload of worthless xxx.
            sorry for making him try it LOL

          • Kyle

            Neither hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide have any sulfur in them, the reaction leaves you with H2O + NaCl, as in water and table salt. As long as you’re sure the two have completely neutralized each other you could drink the result straight up, although drinking salt water doesn’t sound terribly appealing, hahah.

          • davearnold

            The main problem was I think we were saponifying fats.

  • trade-plus

    interesting article.

  • Samantha

    nice info, i will visit this site more often…
    thanks for the informations from this blog…
    YUMMY…. makes me hungry…

  • Jurgen

    Dave, again, a brilliant post.
    Very puzzling results though.

    Some thoughts.

    Are you sure the pressure and temp in both types of pressure cookers are identical?

    I cannot believe that the steam escape in the schools cooker explains the difference.

    1) you comment that the aroma of the pressure cooker stock is better, these are the volatile compounds that would escape first.

    2) there is much more loss of fluids and vapors in the conventional stock.

    It must be a difference in hydrolysis of the chicken proteins. These compounds are not volatile.

    The only explanation I can come up with is that the schools pan runs at higher temps and destroys more of the flavour compounds.

    Did you notice a difference in color between stocks from both pressure cookers?

    • Dave A

      Howdy Jurgen,
      It is puzzling. The pressure cooked stocks are equally dark. We have done a test of stocks at differnet pressures, but I haven’t had time to post it yet. As for mechanism, it is anyone’s guess.

  • Sherman

    Very interesting article. Have been using a Fagor now will probably get the Kuhn-Rikon wow its expensive though. Cooks Illustrated liked the Fagors the best and did not like the Kuhn due to safety issue (they said the top did not lock under pressure and possibly could be removed prematurely). I would be surprised if they did the detailed type of taste testing you have done. I must disagree with your observation that the Fagors clog easily and are somewhat hard to clean. I have not had a clogging problem (I have cooked all kinds of beans, split peas, etc) and dont think it would be an issue if the cooker is not filled above the recommended levels and reasonable care is taken in cleaning. Cleaning of valve is very easy and takes all of about 5 seconds, I use a reaming type pipe cleaner and have used a paper clip which works fine as well. One instruction one definitely should follow with the Fagor though is to replace the gasket at least every 12 months as I found out from hard experience.

    • davearnold

      Howdy Sherman,
      Our problems with the Fagor unit probably stem from students not cleaning them properly, but I have witnessed them vent on 3 occasions due to occluded valves. This probably wouldn’t be a problem at home, though. I have also had the integrated plastic parts degrade and melt when someone ran the unit dry once. Our crew can be pretty abusive. My Kuhn Rikon is at home, and I can’t picture the mechanism in my head, but I’m almost certain it cannot be opened under pressure. One thing on gaskets. They definitely need regular replacing or they start venting constantly. My Kuhn Rikon gasket has lasted a long, long time, but all our other gaskets go south pretty quick. One technique (which I don’t recommend) to get you out of a jam is to shove the back end of a fork or spoon into the gasket blow-out slot. This will stop the venting but also defeats the safety feature. That can only be done before the pressure builds and the gasket starts extruding through the slot.

      • Sherman

        Wow, Thank you for your response Dave. As for the venting problems with the Fagors it happened to me as well after I had not changed the gasket in over a year and believe me when that happens I have my doubts if the spoon idea would work, from my experience about all I think you can do is stand back and get outta the way, trying to stop it with the spoon idea is probably asking for trouble! It brought back nostalgic memories of my moms kitchen about 50 years ago (she used a Presto of that era) when more than 1 soup wound up on the ceiling.
        Since your school pots probably get much more use and abuse gaskets should be changed every couple of months and they should just run a paper clip through the Fagor valve when cleaning the pot after each use.

        BTW is Jaques Pepin still on your staff or faculty at the school? I had the pleasure of seeing him in person in a show with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert down in Miami a few months ago. I think the man is some kind of Wizard and seems like a really great guy.

        • davearnold

          Howdy Sherman,
          Yes, Chef Jaques is still with the FCI. He is one of our deans. He isn’t here every day but he comes and does demos and hangs out with the students from time to time.

  • Guy MovingOn

    Great article!
    I have been interested in purchasing a pressure cooker for some time now, but it was enlightening to see that not all pressure cookers are the same, and the results are completely different!

    I have been checking Amazon for pressure cookers.
    I would like to ask if you have heard of the WMF Perfect Plus Pressure Cooker??

    It seems to have the same spring valve as the Kuhn Rikon, but also other advantages, and cheaper!

    Could you please take a look at this link and let me know your recommendation, as I would really like to purchase one soon!

    Thank you so much!
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/WMF-Perfect-Pressure-diameter-stainless/dp/B000UAMQ16/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&s=kitchen&qid=1268635892&sr=1-19

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/WMF-Perfect-Pressure-diameter-stainless/dp/B00008XWYR/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=kitchen&qid=1268635892&sr=1-3

    • davearnold

      Hi Guy,
      I couldn’t get a user manual for the WMF but it looks pretty interesting. As you say, it looks like it has the same sort of spring valve as the Kuhn Rikon, just located in the handle. The one thing the Kuhn Rikon has that is nice is that when the valve gets stuck you can grab it with your fingers and unstick it (as I had to do yesterday!).

      • Guy MovingOn

        Thank you very much for your feedback, I really appreciate it! I think I will purchase the WMF since it seems to be easy to clean, have the induction-compatible bottom plate, and quite a few accessories to go with it. Plus the price seems a bit better.
        Thank you very much, and I love reading your articles! :D

    • schinderhannes

      Hi Guy
      living in Germany, I have an WMF Pressure cooker, they work very nicely.
      They have an automatic sealing mechanism (a ball valve that lets out air for a minute or so when your stock starts boiling. Once the air is out and hot steam hits the rubber of the valve it softens and the ball pops to its end position sealing it. Very convenient. Once it is shut no more steam leaves the scene. The pressure regulator valve is a sping type valve that only opens if the maximum pressure is exceeded. It has a nice wide display ring for the current pressure and (at least on my induction burner) I can very nicely regulate the power input into the pot to keep it at say half the maximum pressure.
      I´d say go for it!

  • lee brownell

    dave, took the hydrocolloids class a few weeks ago… egg bread idea not working out so well… the chickens hide there eggs every time i walk by now…. making alot of angel food cakes though.. using 6 yolks, .45 grams b powder (1/2 tsp) and inch of salt with 1 tbs sugar… cooking trials of 10-30 minutes provides a blown up mess… good flavor but a frisby type product….???? any suggestions cooking with ramekin on ring mold
    in 1/2 inch of h20. thanks lee

  • Canthespam

    Very interesting. I have not attempted PC stock, still doing it on the stove… but now, I ready.

    I have had my Kuhn Rikon for about 16 years and have never had a bad experience with it.

    I want to buy a new one for my vacation home and knowing that they are now made in China and did have some production problems with their Anniversary Edition last year – I am wondering if anyone knows if the current Duromatic models are made as well as my old one???

    After doing a lot of research on other brands, WTF, etc.. and actually using a Fagor, (I didn’t like the controls) – has anyone had any problems with recent Kuhn Rikons?

    Thanks in advance.

    • davearnold

      Hi Canthespam,
      I did not know that they moved production or that they had issues last year. I do know someone who had lid guard break on a duromatic that was new a couple of months ago, however.

      • Canthespam

        Hi Dave,

        I spoke too soon.

        I know for a fact that last year they recalled one of the new cheaper models.

        I called Kuhn Rikon Friday, after I posted this. According to them the only model made in INDIA, not China, is the $99.00 Eccomatic (?). He said that the others are still made in Switzerland.

        My current Kuhn Rikon is 5L and I am buying another one for a vacation home. I am considering buying the 7L size. I have never made anything that was too much for the 5L, but I want to make stock now and I would imagine that the 7L is a better size???????

        Would you please share your stock recipe with us? Thanks in advance.

        • davearnold

          Howdy Canthespam,
          We just used our normal stock recipes, making sure that we matched ingredients across preparations within each test. Nils and I will surely come up with a printable recipe –hopefully sooner not later.

  • Richard

    I’ve love some thoughts on the Cuisinart, too. I’m in the market for a PC, but unless there is a compelling reason that a home cook needs a $250 model, I’d much rather stick with a <=$100 model and save for an immersion circulator. Thanks for any advice/testing anyone does!

    • davearnold

      I have never used the Cuisinart, but I am told it doesn’t get to 15psi. I would like to find a non-venting, inexpensive pc as well.

  • Yosefa

    I am in the market for my first pressure cooker and I was just starting to gain confidence that I could pick out a good one, but now I am scared I will make the wrong choice! I definitely don’t want a pressure cooker that’s going to rattle away while it cooks. Like a good servant, it should cook my dinner quietly and not make a mess.

    • davearnold

      I like Kuhn Rikon but they are pricey.

      • Jane

        I believe in this case, you certainly get what you pay for, as illustrated in these tests.

        I have 3 Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers which meet all my needs: the waffle-base 2.5 Qt Braiser pan, a 6 Qt tall stock pot & the 8 Qt squat Family cooker — aka “Bubba”. These all have a solid 1/4″ aluminum disc sandwiched into the triple-ply base, are built from a substantial weight surgical grade stainless steel, cook like a dream and are made in Switzerland. The Fagor is made in China, I’m not sure about the WMF but another German brand, BRK, have only the tops made in Germany while the bases are made in Asia.

    • Jill, The Veggie Queen

      I have used many different pressure cookers and often suggest that people start with an inexpensive one like the Fagor Duo or the classier and more expensive Euro model, the Futuro. The Futuro is self-locking which some people like. You can practically buy 2 cookers for the price of one Kuhn Rikon, which is a great cooker.
      I explain to people that if they have to drive a Mercedes, then get a Kuhn Rikon. If you’re fine driving a Honda or Toyota, then get a Fagor. I have not used the WMF so cannot comment.

  • Rosie

    I am amazed at this post and subsequent conversations. I have just been convinced in five easy steps to buy a Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker (was thinking about getting a PC anyway…) and have had a lesson in chemistry at the same time. All because I went googling one day to find out if it would be a good or bad idea for me to use a pressure cooker to make stock instead of via the regular method. I am now sold and what’s more, I can’t wait to witness my very own water-based Maillard reaction! In fact, I’m thinking maybe a duck bone broth, because I would then have on my hands a mallard Maillard reaction. Muahaha! Thanks for a fascinating blog – keep up the very interesting work! I don’t know how you find the time to cook as well… :)

  • » Pressure Cookers Cobb's Kitchen

    [...] leads me to this great article by the guys over at Cooking Issues.  It highlights the need to have a pressure [...]

  • Barnaby

    Much like Rosie, I too came across this article while deciding whether to try and save energy and time when making stock by using a pressure cooker.

    I had been looking at getting a Kuhn Rikon one based on it being sold by a German retailer called Manufactum (home of a lot of old-school cooking equipment). They had the 7l one for €220 which is no small investment. However, I just noticed the same one on amazon.de for €129!!! Although still not cheap, it is affordable.

    What I’d like to figure out, from a purely economic point of view, is how many stocks I’d have to make to save enough gas to cover the €129…

    • davearnold

      Dunno Barnaby,
      When you factor the cost, don’t just factor the gas, factor the air conditioning you won’t have to use as well!

  • John

    Hey Dave, I’ve been doing a bit of reading online. It’s been reported that chicken stock in modernist cuisine is pressure cooked for 1.5 hours. Would this have any affect. I’ll run some tests after my Kuhn Rikon gets in.

    • davearnold

      I was talking to Chris young about this subject. He definitely has a “Do not exceed” cooking time. Maybe the 1.5 hours time is based on that?

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