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Pressure Cooker: How it works, and its benefits outlined

Updated on January 27, 2015
Labelled Pressure Cooker
Labelled Pressure Cooker | Source

What is a Pressure Cooker?
The Pressure cooker is a sealed utensil used for cooking that does not allow air or liquid to escape below a preset pressure. A pressure cooker is called a steam digest-er, since the food is cooked with the help of boiling water.

There are many brands of pressure cookers. Some pressure cookers are electric and some used on gas/stove. Hawkins pressure cooker is made of stainless steel and used on gas/stove. Stainless steel pressure cookers are heavy with three-ply bottom for uniform heating, since stainless steel has lower thermal conductivity. This pressure cooker has a capacity of 0.8 gallons of liquid. Hawkins pressure cookers are dishwasher safe and they are easy to clean after cooking.

What are the advantages of using a pressure cooker?

The pressure cooker presents several advantages. Food cooks much faster except the microwave, so dishes can be ready sooner. Some claim that the pressure cooker is easy to cook with in comparison to other modern gadgets it is certainly versatile. Large quantities of food are cooked in the cooker pan, reducing the number of utensils required. Due to its tight lid, it can be used on moving vehicles, and to store cooked food for short times.

A pressure cooker is more hygienic than open cooking in a pot or utensil. The kitchen is clean because, compared to traditional open boiling almost no steam and oils escape to the atmosphere to end up deposits on the walls. In addition, the food cooked above the boiling point of water, killing more germs.

Finally, the pressure cooker allows cooking at high altitudes, where the low atmospheric pressure otherwise reduces the boiling point of water and hence reduces water's effectiveness for cooking or preparing hot beverages.

Pan has a pivot
Pan has a pivot | Source
Pan has a bulge on it's handle
Pan has a bulge on it's handle | Source
Lid | Source
Regulator goes into the vent tube
Regulator goes into the vent tube | Source
Regulator | Source
Regulator | Source
safety valve
safety valve | Source
back side of safety valve
back side of safety valve | Source
sealing ring
sealing ring | Source
the sealing ring goes onto the rim of the lid
the sealing ring goes onto the rim of the lid | Source

The main parts of a pressure cooker described below:

The pan has a 0.8-gallon capacity and weighs ~2 pounds. It is stainless steel pan. The pan has a sturdy 5” heat proof handle which helps in lifting the pan. The pan has a pivot on the handle that helps in placing the lid of the cooker when needed. The end of the handle has a hawk like bulge that helps in lid locking once placed on it. The pan serves as an independent utensil for cooking.

This is a stainless steel lid that weighs ~500gms. The lid interlocks in the pan to prevent opening it when internal pressure exceeds atmospheric pressure. The lid has a dip along its circumference for the sealing ring to fit in. The lid has an 11” heatproof handle. At the end of the handle, there is a locking loop. When the lid is placed on the pan, the loop locks in tightly with the handle of the pan thus, making it secure.

This is a pressure regulator that sits on the vent of the lid. The vent tube on the lid has to be clean of any food particles for the whistle to move up order to release the pressure that the pan generates. Particle clears off the vent tube by blowing air through it. Pictured below is the other end of the regulator. The other end of the pressure regulator has a slight indent that goes into the vent tube. The regulator weighs ~100gms. It has a very lightweight since it has to move up to release the steam from the cooker.

Safety Valve
This is a safety valve. The rod of the lid shields the valve. This valve holds the pressure of the steam thus allowing the food to be cooked. If the safety valve is broken, the cooker does not generate any pressure thus preventing the steam to form.

Sealing Ring
This is a sealing ring that is made of rubber, makes the vessel airtight, and prevents leaks. A rubber ring fits on the rim of the lid. The rubber ring expands and releases excess pressure downwards between lid and the pan.

step 1
step 1
step 2
step 2
step 3
step 3

Steps to set up the cooker for use:
Place some raw food along with some amount of water in the pressure cooker. The sealing ring is put around the circular lid and the vent tube on the lid is checked for any clogs.

Step1: The lid is twisted a little and put in the pan.

Step 2: The lid is then rested in the pan and pulled up. The sealing ring around the lid rim helps in sealing it.

Step 3: The lid is rested on the pivot and locked by the locking loop. Place the pressure regulator over the vent tube.

The utensil is placed on a gas/stove. The pressure regulator is put on the vent tube. If the lid is not properly closed, the pressure will not build up.

How does the Pressure Cooker work?

The pressure cooker is set up with the raw food and water is poured into it. It is placed on the gas/stove. When the water reaches the boiling point, it starts to boil and steam is generated. This steam cannot escape the vessel since it has an airtight seal between the pan and the lid due to a sealing ring. The steam helps in cooking the raw food. When the pressure has built up, the steam can escape through a regulator on the lid. The regulator lifts up giving out a whistle that is actually a release of steam generated in the pan. This process can continue until the food is completely cooked. The lid comes off the pan only when all the pressure in the vessel is released. The lid will not come off the pan if there is pressure in the vessel. This is due to the rubber ring around the lid which sticks to the pan until there is pressure in the pan. This is the safety feature of the cooker.

Voila! Food is ready which is healthy and nutritious since it has been cooked by steam. The cooked food could be sauteed in your favorite oil to give some extra kick in flavor.

Word of Caution

Steam can cause some serious burns. Thus, wait until all the steam is released from the regulator until you open the lid.


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    • lex123 profile image


      6 years ago

      A well-written hub about pressure cooker and the benefits of cooking in it. Pressure cooker is an important gadget in my kitchen on a daily basis. Voting it up.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      I am always worried that things will explode--I know it is an irrational fear--but there it is anyway

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 

      6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      My mother in law wanted a pressure cooker for Christmas a few years ago. Personally, I have never used one. I might have to give it a try though. Fast meals that are healthy... you just can't beat that! :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      7 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Still laughing at RealHousewife, was glad to see you gave her good advice, lol. I am a little afraid of these so I cook a little slower on them than most probably but it still is pretty quick. It sure puts out some quick good smells, great hub.

    • Ruchira profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      Hi AllanRimmer,

      Yes, these days pressure cooker has modernized so, no worries, my friend :) check it out!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Reading this reminded me that we need to get a new sealing ring for our old pressure cooker. One nice aspect of using them is that they tenderize meat more quickly and also use much less energy than most other ways of cooking. Voted up and useful.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      Vespa Woolf 

      7 years ago from Peru, South America

      I first learned to use a pressure cooker when we lived in Cusco, a high altitude city in the Andes Mountains. I've never been able to do without one since! They make food cooking so much faster. i can't imagine cooking beans without them. This is a well-written and interesing hub. Voted up!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      7 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      About one year ago, I remembered how my mother always used one of those, great for cooking dried peas,' very popular in the Caribbean', anyway I bought one, and it is well used.

      Nice useful hub.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 

      7 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      I believe every household I have visited in my lifetime has a hawkins pressure cooker.....

      It is simply cooking and therefore life made easy for the house wives and the working home makers

      Great hub Ruchira

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      7 years ago

      Very interesting hub. I've never used a pressure cooker myself but have seen celebrity chefs use it in cooking shows pretty often. Always wondered how it worked. So thanks a lot for the info. Rated up, useful and interesting!

    • urmilashukla23 profile image


      7 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

      Very interesting hub. What can we do without pressure cooker. Especially, when it comes to cook Indian food. Well explained, Voted up!

    • garage-remotes profile image

      Rob Reel 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      how does it compare to a slow cooker?

    • Ruchira profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      Hi Ruchi, yes pressure cooker is my favorite gadget to cook. Thanks for stopping by!

      Thanks prasetio90. I am glad you enjoyed it...cheers!

    • dinkan53 profile image


      7 years ago from India

      You can really win the time and energy by using a pressure cooker. Some people are afraid of pressure cooker as the sounds that it made and about its myths( a friend of mine said that it is like a bomb, just waiting to explode). The cookers are very safe if you follow safety precautions. This is a very useful and a complete guide to use pressure cookers.

      Voted up and useful, shared!

    • moonlake profile image


      7 years ago from America

      Enjoyed your hub very interesting. I said before that I never cooked with a pressure cooker. I always worried about them blowing up. I guess we did at one time have a big pressure cooker we used for canning. I always had my husband use it not me. Voted up and more.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 

      7 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      We got my mother-inlaw one of these for Christmas. She wanted one because she remebers her mother used to have one and would come home from work and prepare these amazing meals. I am not sure if she has used hers yet. I am a little intrigued by them, but I will admit, they do intimidate me. Great hub and great information... I might have to get this to add to my kitchen collection after all! :)

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      7 years ago from Nepal

      Had there been no pressure cooker, I would have never learn to cook.

      Thanks for this interesting article.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      You have just reminded me of my need to purchase a new pressure cooker. My hubby uses it often to cook and the meals are wonderful, especially the tender meat that is made using one of these.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      7 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I love my pressure cooker and you did a thorough job explaining how it works.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      This is such a good explanation! I always wondered how it worked. So cool! Thanks for the info, ruchira! I love the photos, too. They really help.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      My mom always used a pressure cooker. I always just boil and boil and boil until the food is finished! I was always impressed with the pressure cooker, though, and, like many others here, I may have to eventually buy one! Great job!

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 

      7 years ago

      Ruchira, thanks to your Hub, I am convinced that a Pressure Cooker belongs in my home. I feel like I have missed out all these years, so I will add this to my prized kitchen gadgets. I will probably end up buying many of these products on this WTI! Great writing, great product!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      That is very informative,Ruchira. I voted up. COO! HEH-HEH!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      A wonderfully detailed explanation on the pressure cooker we have been so accustomed to ever since they came into being.

      Voted up and useful Ruchira.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      I always use a pressure cooker. Rice is so soft when cooked in a pressure cooker and it stays that way. It cooks fast , Your hub is very useful and informative. Voted up.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I've never used a pressure cooker. My sis always used one. I think i would be afraid to use one because i saw her's blow up and there were potatoes on the ceiling.. That was years ago, i'm sure they are better now. I did find your info. interesting..Thank you Ruchira...

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My step mother told me a story where she once used her pressure cooker to cook pasta. She opened it too fast or something and all the pasta ended up on the ceiling. I've never tried one myself but found your hub very informative.

    • AlanRimmer profile image


      7 years ago from Southwest UK

      I remember pressure cookers as these huge monsters you went near at your own peril but then again I was only 5 or 6 years old back then. Didn't realize they were so easy to use and look after and that they came in a size that is ideal for just the two of us. Your very thorough and interesting explanation has convinced me to browse my local cookware store for one. Thanks

    • prasetio30 profile image


      7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very informative hub and I really love your tips. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up :-)


    • Ruchi Urvashi profile image

      Ruchi Urvashi 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Great information about pressure cooker. I love to use pressure cooker, I use it daily.

    • Ruchira profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      thanks marleneB. I am glad you found the information helpful...cheers!

    • Ruchira profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks molometer. Yes, you should give it a try. Cooking and cleaning becomes easier. Good luck.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      7 years ago from USA

      I never thought about altitude being an issue with cooking, but now I see how using a pressure cooker could solve a serious issue. I've always been afraid of using a pressure cooker. Thank you for breaking down the components of this cooking device. Your information is quite helpful.

    • molometer profile image

      Micheal is 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very useful and informative hub on pressure cookers. I will maybe give one a try.

      Sharing this one.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      7 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      My pleasure, Ruchira! :)

    • Ruchira profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks terry. Appreciate it. Cheers!!

    • Ruchira profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      Hi Kelly,

      Food when prepped in a cooker is faster and healthier cause it's steamed. However, I would advise you to stay in your home when it's cooking 'cause this is not a slow cooker, which takes forever to cook.

      Thanks for stopping by with your valuable support...appreciate it.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      7 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Ruchira, a very interesting hub on the pressure cooker. Nicely done. :)

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Ruchira - my love! I had to give you UP and everything including funny! You did a terrific job explaining - I have NEVER used one - I use the old canning method.

      Second - and most priceless for me is that I can drive around while it cooks! So fabulous...I'm going to be able to run all over town while I fix supper! I can just check the pot...maybe give it a stir between errands and by the time I get home Voila! Ha! No more going to burger doodle and sitting in the car...uh uh...right in the driveway! Hahahahaha

      I love it! I really want one!


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