Best Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker

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The more I spend time doing research on cookware, the more I am amazed at how informed and educated consumers are in terms of the materials used for making different pots and pans.

No matter what types of cookware, there is an overwhelming demand for those made of stainless steel. It’s no exception in pressure cookers. Before we dive into what makes the best stainless steel pressure cooker, maybe we can digress a bit on why stainless steel is the material of choice.

The concern and sometimes the fear stem from the scare of Teflon-coated material as it may decomposes at 550 degrees F and the broken-down substance could be harmful to our health.

As much as aluminum has been used in many cookware in the past and still now, it also has its weaknesses such as it’s reactive to high-acidic foods and forms pits in the pot as a result.

By way of elimination, stainless steel has become a rising star as the material for cookware and other consumer/commercial applications.

The 18/10 stainless steel comprises of 18% nickel and 10% chromium. The strengths of stainless steel are numerous. Here are just a few examples:

It doesn’t corrode or rust when being in contact with acidic foods. For example, if you make a pot of hearty spaghetti sauce in a pot made of aluminum, the cooking surface of the pot will react to the acidic nature of tomatoes. This doesn’t happen in a stainless steel saucepan.

It’s durable and low maintenance. Chances are many of the households have a set of stainless pots and pans that have been in use for a long time. I replaced mine not because the set wasn’t functional anymore, but I was bored with the old style design and appearance.

Perhaps the biggest distinct feature of stainless steel is the luster that makes it ideal and attractive in cookware.

 

Now let’s get back to the important criteria for a best stainless steel pressure cooker.

6 Questions to Lead You onto the Right Path

Now let’s get back to the important criteria for the best stainless steel pressure cooker.

How Big Is the Pressure Cooker?

The first question is how big the pressure cooker is. The size of a pressure cooker is measured in both liquid capacities such as in quarts or liter (for those international models) as well as in volume capacity in cubic feet. If you use it as a pressure cooker only, all you need is to be concerned about the number of quarts or servings of food the pot can produce.Then you can backtrack to how many people you are feeding in your family.

This is only a proxy gauge as many people love to cook more or even batches of foods at a time so they will have plenty of healthful foods in the freezer. The home-made foods beat those commercially packaged TV meals any time.

As a general rule of thumb, the 7 quart seems to be a good size for a majority of the families as it will yield 8-10 servings of food. One caveat is that you can’t equate the 7 quarts as the full capacity size as you can only use 1/2 or 2/3 of the capacity when pressure cooking to allow some “head room” for the pressure to build in the cooker.

What Is Made Of?

There are over 150 grades of stainless steel on the market. So not all of them are created equal in terms of gauge, thickness and quality. You want to make sure you choose a brand that’s been in business for a long time and that it manufactures quality products. 18/10 seems to be basic benchmark in the cookware industry. Better yet, you’ll want to look for a pressure cooker with some aluminum in the base of the pot through a cladding process.

Cladding is referred to covering one material with another. In this case, the aluminum is clad in between two layers of stainless steel to combine the best of both worlds in aluminum (high heat conductivity) and stainless steel.

How Is the Pressure Regulated?

Most of us are apprehended by pressure cooking as the story of explosion has been retold too many times. It’s important that the cooker is designed with the state-of-the-art technology and features to ensure the safety during the cooking and pressure releasing processes.

The first thing to look for is whether or not the pressure cooker is an enclosed system vs. an “open” system. By the way, I’ve made up the “open” system here. The enclosed one is designed to have the safety valves, the venting pipe, the locking-lid, and the pressure release all into one integrated system. It has many benefits of having such a design such as it’s quieter, less steam escapes and more nutrients retained in the food.

The “open” system is the conventional system where a weighted topper is attached to the vent pipe. It regulates the pressure inside of the cooker via jiggling and rocking motions. It, too has its pros and cons as well.

Many people are more familiar with this type of cooker as it might have been passed down from the previous generation. It’s visual and audible to see the steam, to hear the hissing and rocking sound. It’s definitely noisier and it requires more “participation” on the cook’s part such as you need to put the weight on when the pressure reaches to a desirable level to start timing the cooking duration.

In both methods, you want to find a pressure cooker with some sort of backup safety valves as the primary one fails to do its job, the foot solder/s need to step up. The vent pipe does get clogged once in a while.

Pressure Level and Release Methods?

Many recipes require different pressure levels to properly cook the foods, especially in the case of cooking meats and seafood. It’s ideal if three levels are all available in a pressure cooker as 5, 10 and 15 psi (pounds/square inch). Given we all live in different parts of the country or the world, there are some of us who live in higher elevations. In altitudes above 1000 feet, the pressure in the cooker is lower than that at sea level. One way to compensate the lower pressure is to cook the foods at a higher psi.

After cooking, releasing the pressure in the cooker is another consideration. You can use the old trick of “cold water method” where you remove the pressure cooker from the stove and run cold water on top of the lid for a few minutes.

You can also let the cooker cool off naturally, but it takes longer time to wait. We all have become increasingly “impatient” due to the demands in our lives. Many newer models of pressure cookers are armed with an “automatic release method” whereby you simply turn a knob or dial. The pressure will be released instantaneously. In addition, different recipes require different release methods as well.

How Long Is the Warranty and Is It a Well-Known Brand?

A pressure cooker is like a long-term investment. You’d expect to recoup some Return-on-Investment (ROI) over a long haul. If the cooker is made of high quality stainless steel and manufactured by a reputable company, it should last for 20 years or longer. You should expect to have a longer warranty period so you can source replacement parts when needed and call the Customer Service with any issues. The average period is around 10-year.

How Much?

Buying a quality pressure cooker does cost more than a typical pot or pan as it has more advanced features and sophisticated technology. This is not an area where you should cut corners. You’d be penny wise and pound foolish. Save your money to buy a good sized one and focus on the quality.

Which Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker Would I Choose?

Great question! I’d choose the Kuhn Rikon 3344 7.4-Quart Pressure Cooker in a heartbeat. This is why:

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Made in Switzerland

It’s made by Kuhn Rikon, a Swiss manufacturer that has been in business of manufacturing high quality cookware since 1819. The Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers have been called the “Mercedes-Benz or Rolls-Royce” of pressure cookers for a good reason because of the design and quality.

Safe to Use and Easy to Operate

Here is an excellent example of an enclosed and integrated system that ensures the safety and ease of operation all into one. For more information, please refer to my detailed review.

Perfect Size for Most Families

With a 7.4-quart size, it offers infinite options to cook anything your heart may desire: beef stews with fall vegetables; pot roast that can be cut with a dull knife. Your imagination is the only limitation.

Built to Impress and to Last

The Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers combine the aluminum and stainless steel to provide you with the most energy and time-efficiency and the exterior finish to complement any kitchen décor. A 10-year warranty shows their confidence about the products.

Outstanding Customer Ratings

This Kuhn Rikon 3344 has received 4.6 out of 5 star ratings by many happy customers. Many raved about how it was worth every penny.

Yes, there are less expensive brands and models on the market with stainless steel, but having a rare blend of design, safety, quality and size is not a common daily occurrence. If you think about buying a high quality pressure cooker as an investment, then the annualized expense over 20 years is miniscule. Many people do pass it on to the next generation.

 

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