"nothing, nothing, nothing... HISS!"?
September 16, 2012 6:14 PM   Subscribe

My pressure cooker used to gradually build up to high hiss. Now it's silent for a long time and then pops to high hiss. Do I need a new pressure cooker?

I've cleaned it, soaked it in hot sudsy water, dismantled it as much as it allows, and poked it with a skewer to clean off sludge (gross!).

It's a modern style pressure cooker, a Fagor Future, but it's over 10 years old.

I've looked everywhere online for more instructions on how to take it apart or where to take it for a professional cleaning (does this exist?) but haven't found anything. I'm in SF, if you happen to know of anywhere.

The problem with the "nothing, nothing, nothing... HISS!" situation is that it throws off timing. I just ruined a bean soup mix. :(

Any ideas for how to salvage this, or is it time to replace my beloved pressure cooker?
posted by nadise to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have a lot of experience with pressure cookers but I understand that most have rubber or silicone gaskets that wear out and need to be replaced after a while. Have you looked into that?
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:33 PM on September 16, 2012

It sounds like steam isn't escaping now until there's some pressure buildup. Here are two wild guesses:
1. If you've adjusted that knob on the top recently, try turning it back down all the way (to less pressure).
2. If it's not the knob, could remaining sludge be blocking a hole until there's a lot of steam to push past the sludge? For the quiet hiss to start there has to be a way for steam to get out even at low pressure.
posted by sninctown at 7:07 PM on September 16, 2012

Is the seal seated correctly? I had some experience with a chicken broaster that had a goofy seal that wouldn't work unless it was aligned properly. One sneeze or two batches of awesome broasted chicken were enough to dislodge it.
posted by Sphinx at 7:30 PM on September 16, 2012

Response by poster: The rubber gasket, as I understand it, shows signs of failure by not allowing the buildup of steam at all.

I think you're right, sninctown, something's gotta be blocking a hole somewhere. But I can't seem to get to it.

I'm definitely sure the seal is being sealed correctly -- it just started doing this after very regular use for 10 years+.

Thanks for trying to solve this with me.
posted by nadise at 8:00 PM on September 16, 2012

Best answer: Most problems with pressure cookers relate to a seal needing replaced or a gauge that isn't working properly or needs to be calibrated. Replacing the seal is easy, just make sure you get it back in place properly, that it's clean, and that you keep it well lubricated with a bit of olive oil or some other oil. Dial gauges should be tested regularly, although I've known women who've canned for years without doing so. The local Cooperative Extensions still do this test or can tell you where to take your cooker. If the gauge is out of calibration, it will need to be replaced, or you may have to send it back to the manufacturer for re-calibration.

In your case, it really does sound like your pressure regulator valve is blocked up and not seating right. Can you futz around with water pressure and canned air to see if you can clear it out some more? Maybe just boiling nothing but water for ten minutes would help clear it out.

If nothing else, the Customer Service number at the Fagor site is 1-800 207 0806. Betcha they'll be able to give you some info.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:36 PM on September 16, 2012

Hmm. I thought pressure cookers were supposed to silently build up steam, then release a sudden "Pop!" scaring any cats, kids, cooks, or houseguests in the vicinity. Many Indian food recipes I have tell you to cook by the "pop," (i.e. "Wait until the pressure cooker pops twice, then remove from the heat.") However, I got my cooker in India, so maybe it is a different style or a more basic model. I just have to tell you, though, your question reads to me, "My broken leaky pressure cooker magically fixed itself, how did this happen?"
posted by whitewall at 11:08 PM on September 16, 2012

This is definitely a call customer service kind of thing (just to be sure) since an exploding pressure cooker is a very bad thing TM.

My suspicion, though, is that previously the seal wasn't seating properly and it was never quite getting up to pressure and now it is.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:29 PM on September 16, 2012

Best answer: DON'T FUCK WITH PRESSURE COOKERS. A malfunctioning pressure cooker is terrifying and should terrify you. Thermodynamics make them much much scarier then they look.

If your Fagor Pressure Cooker or Commercial Cookware needs to be repaired, or if you have any questions in regard to the use and care of the product, please call the Fagor Cookware Customer Service Department at # 1-800-207-0806 (Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm EST), or email us your questions to info@fagoramerica.com

Incidentally, you haven't been cooking anything frothy like macaroni, cranberries, or cereals such as oatmeal, or anything expanding like dumplings right? Things like this will fuck up pressure cookers.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:33 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

« Older Help me stop these migraines. Please.   |   Executive Function for 20-somethings Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.