From stews to cakes, ribs to beans – your pressure cooker can help you make a variety of delicious foods in half the time it would take on a regular stovetop pot. And because fewer vitamins and nutrients are lost during pressure cooking, you get healthier home cooked meals.
It makes sense that you’d want to keep your pressure cooker in the best condition for as long as possible. A well-maintained pressure cooker can last for many years. Not only that, just like any other appliance, a poorly maintained pressure cooker can become a severe hazard.
In this article, you’ll learn the best seven pressure cooker maintenance tips so you can keep using it safely for years to come.
Table of Contents
- 1 Tip #1 - Don't leave food in your pressure cooker for too long
- 2 Tip #2 - Avoid using abrasive cleaners on your pressure cooker
- 3 Tip #3 - Clean your pressure cooker with warm, soapy water.
- 4 Tip #4 - Remove baked-on food from your pressure cooker
- 5 Tip #5 - Inspect and carefully clean your pressure cooker valves
- 6 Tip #6 - Inspect and carefully handle your pressure cooker gasket sealing ring
- 7 Tip #7 - Properly dry your pressure cooker before storage
- 8 Bonus Tip:
- 9 Summary
- 10 6 Great Pressure Cookers
Tip #1 - Don't leave food in your pressure cooker for too long
As tempting as it to leave food in a cooker after using it, you should try to avoid it. Leaving food in the pot can compromise the metal, causing pitting. Pitting creates a pocket for bacteria, which causes stomach illness and unpleasant tastes/odors, and compromises how your cooker functions.
Removing food as soon as possible helps to extend your cooker’s life. Practice cleaning, drying, and storing your cooker right away – even if you leave those other dirty dishes for later.
Tip #2 - Avoid using abrasive cleaners on your pressure cooker
You may sometimes find yourself facing issues with having food stuck on your cooker surfaces. But it is always a bad idea to use abrasive cleaners. Doing so can damage your cooker, causing pitting and other safety issues.
As I mentioned before, pitting in metals can cause unsanitary and hazardous conditions. It will also considerably reduce the life of your appliance. Instead, follow the next two tips on how to clean a pressure cooker properly.
Tip #3 - Clean your pressure cooker with warm, soapy water.
First, electric pressure cookers unplug the unit, then take out the inner pot and wash it with a nonabrasive cloth under warm, soapy water. You can briefly soak the inner pot and the lid (after removing detachable parts) in the water to get rid of any residue that may be a little hard to budge. Don’t forget to wipe the control panel, handles, and the outer body of your pressure cooker’s base.
Pay attention to what parts of your cooker are dishwasher safe and which aren’t. For example, the Instant Pot lids are generally dishwasher safe – if you remove the anti-block shield (the small part that prevents food from blocking the pressure release valve). And never submerge the base of an electric cooker in water.
Tip #4 - Remove baked-on food from your pressure cooker
Try to avoid this by not leaving food in the cooker for too long. But, if you’re at this point, it’s not too late to fix this problem without damaging your cooker.
Fill your pot with hot water and let it soak overnight. The next day, clean with warm, soapy water as you usually would. Your cooker should be almost as good as new.
If that doesn’t completely fix the problem, you may also be able to add a cup or two of distilled white vinegar in the warm water for an overnight soak. But check with your user manual to make sure that’s okay.
Tip #5 - Inspect and carefully clean your pressure cooker valves
Pressure cookers have a pressure release valve and an overpressure/safety valve. The first valve maintains the pressure by allowing a controlled release of excess steam. The safety valve stops the pressure from getting too high to prevent an explosive release of scalding contents and cooker parts.
Inspect your pressure cooker valves before and after every use. Remove any food particles blocking the valves by handwashing them in warm soapy water and using a wire (or toothpick) to clean out holes. If the parts are otherwise damaged or corroded, replace them right away.
In general, you can prevent these issues by doing three things:
1. Not overfilling your cooker with food.
2. Using the right amount of water, so your cooker doesn’t run dry.
3. Not using too high of a heat setting during the cooking process.
Tip #6 - Inspect and carefully handle your pressure cooker gasket sealing ring
The sealing ring fits inside the lid, sandwiched between the lid and the pot while the pressure cooker is in use. The ring is essential for achieving a good seal, which is crucial for your cooker to reach high pressures and temperatures.
Before and after every use, check that the ring is in good condition. If it is distorted, cracked, or broken, replace it before you use your cooker again. Also, ensure there are no dried food particles on the ring.
To maintain the sealing ring and prevent unpleasant odors, regularly clean the ring by removing it from the lid and washing it in warm soapy water. Always wait until it’s cool before removing the ring from its lid, never stretch it while handling, and make sure it is completely dry before putting it back in. It is also always best to keep the sealing ring inside the lid once it is clean and dry.
Tip #7 - Properly dry your pressure cooker before storage
Moisture attracts bacteria, which you don’t want anywhere near your food. So first, you should thoroughly dry your cooker and all its parts before putting it away.
As for storage, find a clean, dry location for your pressure cooker. To keep moisture from building up inside the pot, put a box of baking soda placed inside. You can also sprinkle some baking soda on the bottom and sides of the pot.
Avoid locking the lid on your pressure cooker for storage. Doing so can distort the sealing ring and further encourage moisture buildup inside. And avoid placing the appliance anywhere its parts will move around.
Expect to replace your sealing ring and other parts.
As with every appliance, your cooker’s constant use will cause some wear and tear on its parts. This is why it’s important to inspect the pressure cooker and its components as described above.
It is generally recommended to replace your pressure cooker gasket sealing ring at least every 12 to 18 months. The sealing ring is an integral part of the safe operation of the pressure cooker. If you notice any shrinking, stretching, breaks, or brittleness, replace it right away.
Other parts, such as the valves, have a longer shelf life but will probably need to be replaced over the life of your cooker. But don’t despair – pressure cooker parts can be found at fair prices from reputable dealers.
These are the most useful tips on how to maintain a pressure cooker. Remember, the most common issues with pressure cookers are caused by overfilling your cooker, using too little water, or keeping the heat too high. By avoiding these things and following the tips above, you can enjoy your pressure cooker – and quick, healthy meals at home – for many years to come.