If you’ve got a used pressure cooker (or a new one) and want to be sure everything’s working okay, here are 5 simple steps to test it as a pre-run before you’re ready to cook with it.
How to test the used pressure cooker: Run it through the cooking process with water only. In this post, I explain how.
Pressure cooker testing, why it’s important: You might need to know how to test a used pressure cooker because you’ve just acquired one. Or, when you first get your pressure cooker or if you haven’t used one for a while, it helps to know you can rely on it for that meal when you need it.
In any case, doing a “test drive” helps in building confidence in using it.
Luckily, there’s a simple way to test drive your pressure cooker.
How to know if pressure cooker is working right
To know whether your pressure cooker is working as it should or not is a matter of a simple test.
By trapping steam inside, the pressure cooker builds pressure to create high heat for fast cooking of tender juicy meals. The airtight sealing of the lid and a working pressure limiting valve are critical for proper function and a test run ensures all is in working order.
How to test your pressure cooker step-by-step
One way to test your pressure cooker is by putting water in it and bringing it to high heat on the stove.
You’ll want to first check to ensure your pot’s lid seal is intact and clean and the valve and vent are free of residue.
Then follow these steps…
Add 2 cups of water to the pressure cooker
Your cooker needs water in order to form steam to create the necessary pressure inside for it’s operation as a fast cooker.
For this test, only add water.
Seal the pot with the lid
Make sure the lid is in place and on airtight. For the classic pressure cooker (vs an Instant Pot type), here’s how…
Look for the marks (arrows or triangles) on the lid and align these with the long handle of the pot first as you put the lid on. Next, turn the lid clockwise until its long handle and that of the pot lines up and feels secure in place. You should hear a click.
If the seals are soiled or split, replace them with clean working seals, before proceeding.
Move to regulate the pressure
Ensure the vent and valve are clean and free of debris. (You might need to scrape or blow out any dust or build up if it hasn’t been cleaned well in the past or used for a while.)
Where it’s a weighted valve, simply place the pressure regulator on the steam vent. Where it’s a spring valve with a pressure selector, set the level of pressure to high.
In case you’re not sure what type of valve you have, I describe these in pressure cookers 101.
Put the pressure cooker on the stovetop on high heat
Put the sealed pot containing water only on the stovetop on high heat. Wait for a few minutes. The water will boil and produce steam.
This steam should build up pressure in the pot and force the valve to release a steady flow of steam. (Keep your hands and face away from this area or the steam may burn you.)
You should hear a hissing sound if the cooker has a weighted valve, and the valve will rock (unless it is a modified type where it will release a burst of steam). A spring valve will pop up.
Reduce the heat
The pressure cooker has passed the test in reaching the stage of cooking under pressure. This is when the cooking time would start and you set the clock of the timer (you’ll need a separate device if you have the classic type).
As this is only a test, let the cooker cool before removing the lid. Never try to remove the lid while the pressure cooker is still at high heat under pressure.
Final thoughts about a pressure cooker test run
Whether you’ve got an old pressure cooker or a brand new one, sometimes you just need to make sure it’s in good working order before using. I recommend going through the steps outlined above to do this as a pre-run so that when you actually need to cook with your cooker, everything will be functioning properly and efficiently. If you’re looking for more information like this, be sure to check out related posts below.