Generally, pressure cookers are a safe tool for preparing a variety of foods in a shorter time than other methods of cooking. Many years ago, there were pressure cookers manufactured in a way that made danger in the kitchen a possibility when using one of those devices. Today's pressure cookers are equipped with a variety of safety features, such as locked lids and expanding gaskets, that make the cookers much safer to operate. But many people still have old cookers in their kitchens, and continue to use them despite several dangers associated with them.
Metal In Food
Pressure cookers prior to 1960 were often made by a process known as die-casting, according to Miss Vickie's Pressure Cooker Recipes website. Die-casting is a manufacturing process using molten metal poured into a mold to form the desired shape. This type of manufacturing can lead to metal in the food cooked in the pressure cooker.
Cast metal objects are very brittle and not as strong as the stamped metal cookers made today. The normal use and banging around of the cooker's pot or lid could result in tiny cracks that may not be apparent to the naked eye. These cracks tend to drop small pieces of metal from the cooker into the food, which may then be consumed.
As the name indicates, pressure cookers cook by building up incredible pressure inside the chamber. When the pressure becomes too much for the cooker to hold in, the pressure must escape somewhere. This may include an explosion that could result in injury, and will certainly cause a major mess in the kitchen.
If the cooker is damaged from abuse or has become weakened by unnoticed cracks in the cast metal, the cooker could explode. Explosions can also happen if the cooker is filled more than half-full with food or two-thirds full with liquid. This will not give enough empty space inside the cooker for the steam to expand. In addition, overfilling can leave food particles jammed in the valves, which will not allow adequate pressure to be released when needed.
Old pressure cookers were not equipped with safety features to keep users from opening the lid of the cooker before the pressure had leveled off. This can result in the top flying off, potentially hitting someone or causing steam burns from the sudden release of massive pressure.
While today's pressure cookers usually have a quick release valve for letting the steam out safely, older cookers need to be naturally released. This means allowing the cooker to cool completely before opening.
Since the bottom of older pressure cookers looks a lot like any other stovetop pot, people may try to use them for deep-frying because of their depth. This is not recommended and can be dangerous. Hot oil is highly combustible, and the pressure cooker is not designed to be used in this manner, according to FabulousFoods.com.
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