If you’re new to pressure cooking, you might be wondering “do all pressure cookers whistle?”. How important is it that a pressure cooker whistles? Pressure cookers can be a great way to save time in the kitchen by cooking food faster than other ways. Here are some things to know about pressure cooking.
While the pressure cooker I’m familiar with does whistle, I researched these questions and compiled the following to cover the range of pressure cookers on the market.
Why is this important? If you’re new to using pressure cookers, or looking to buy a replacement, an understanding of what to expect with pressure cookers helps, especially when concerned about the safety of using one. You can also do a test run, which is simple, as I’ve explained step by step elsewhere.
Pressure cooking is a great way to cook food in a short time. It’s a way of retaining more of the nutrients and flavor from the ingredients, as compared to other methods of cooking. For these reasons, pressure cookers are an essential kitchen item for many, just like slow cookers are for others.
What is a pressure cooker?
A pressure cooker uses steam at high temperatures to cook food. It is a metal pot of aluminum or stainless steel construction, with a lid that locks into place to create a seal.
The classic design has a type of regulator that sits over a steam vent and releases steam to maintain pressure at a constant and safe level.
This pressure level can be up to 15 psi, with which the cooker is built to withstand and which brings the temperature within the cooker up to 250ºF (212ºC).
Benefits: This pressurized environment cooks food faster than by normal means of stovetop cooking as it increases heat to above boiling point of water. It also heightens steam production so it naturally tenderizes meats during the cooking process.
To avoid confusion: This article refers to stovetop pressure cookers.
Should a pressure cooker whistle?
Whether a pressure cooker should whistle or not depends on the make and model. All new-generation pressure cookers are quieter versions. To know whether your pressure cooker should whistle, get to know the design features of your unit. The following will help.
For one…Electric pressure cookers don’t whistle. An Instant Pot is a good example and whistling is only one factor. There’s more, as I wrote in my article on what sets Instant Pots apart from pressure cookers.
The ‘whistle’ of a stovetop pressure cooker can be more of a hissing or shusshing sound rather than a high-pitched one of a whistling kettle.
The part that whistles is the pressure regulator, and there are three main types of valves involved:
- Modified weighted
Weighted valve: The weighted valve is the most common. It’s the classic type that rocks during the pressure cooking.
Modified weighted valve: This type does not rock, but lets out bursts of steam from time to time during the pressure cooking. The more upmarket models use this pressure regulator type.
Spring valve: This pressure regulator for the pressure cooker is spring loaded and raises up once enough pressure forms (15 psi) within the pot. A spring-loaded valve is now integral in almost all new generation pressure cookers.
There may be more sophisticated pressure regulators with modern designs, but the above are the main ones.
Other names for this component include ‘pressure limiting valve’.
Do all pressure cookers whistle?
No, not all pressure cookers ‘whistle’, but most at least hiss. Those with a spring valve as a pressure regulator are considered quiet. Those that whistle, belong to the more common, weighted valve type.
The following list highlights ones quoted as ‘quiet’ models among the many pressure cooker brands available…
On using a pressure cooker for the first time
When you use a pressure cooker for the first time, it helps to know what to expect and how to place the lid and other components of your model pressure cooker.
This includes not only knowing how many cups of water your recipe calls for or the maximum level to fill the pot, but also how and when to do certain things with the pressure cooker, such as…
- Locking the lid into place so it is steam tight
- Placing the pressure regulator on the steam vent
- When to reduce the heat
- Knowing when the food is cooked
- About opening the pressure cooker
A pressure cooker uses steam to cook food at high temperatures. The key to its correct and safe use is having enough liquid and sufficient space above the ingredients (follow the pressure cooker recipe), a steam-tight seal with the lid on, the pressure regulator in position, and identifying when the cooker reaches the ideal pressure to reduce the heat and begin the cooking time.
The time taken for your meal will depend on the food. If this is first time use for the food, and you are unsure, check the recipe or the product manual for guidance.
I recommend using a timer.
How to know maximum fill level: Look for a mark inside the pot for maximum fill level (some designs have these). Your pressure cooking recipe should give the quantities and time it takes to cook in a pressure cooker of a certain size.
Before opening the pressure cooker: When finished cooking, turn off the heat and release the pressure according to the design. With the classic weighted valve type, use a fork to lift the pressure regulator, without removing it, to release the steam. Other designs, like the Futura, may need you to open the vent another way to release this steam. I cover elements such as this in the essential safety tips for the Instant Pot.
When does a pressure cooker whistle?
A pressure cooker whistles when, after heating the contents on the stove with the lid and pressure regulator in place, it has reached the full operating pressure to cook the food. It’s then that you reduce the heat and attribute the start of the cooking time. But not all pressure cookers whistle.
There are many pressure cookers that do not whistle at all (electric ones) and some will be quieter than others.
How long does it take a pressure cooker to whistle or reach pressure for cooking?
How long for pressure cooker to reach pressure or whistle? A pressure cooker will take from about 2 minutes to up to 30 minutes to reach full operating pressure for cooking once the pressure regulator is in place. The amount of time will depend on the pressure cooker model, its size, and the contents. It’s best to refer to the pressure cooker recipe.
At this point, with the modified weighted valve, you’ll notice an intensity of steam emitting from the vent. When it’s the spring valve type, the valve will pop up.
FAQs about pressure cookers
Can I use pressure cooker without whistle?
You might not want the intrusion of a whistling pressure cooker, if you have young children sleeping, for example, or you’re wanting to hear the TV. So you might be thinking “Can I use it without the whistle?”
Where the whistle is part of the pressure regulator, you won’t be able to remove the whistle and then use the cooker for pressure cooking.
Your options are to choose a pressure cooker that doesn’t whistle or see if you can replace the whistling weight valve itself with a universal one that’s non-whistling (if that’s possible).
Why is my cooker not whistling?
One, it may not be whistling because it is not designed to whistle. Check out the product specs to see if it has a spring valve or a class one that whistles.
Two, for classic designs that whistle, check to see if you have positioned the pressure regulator right.
A good safety tip when using any kind of pressure cooker is to always ensure the pressure regulator is in the correct position before heating.
Three, check to see if the pressure regulator or vent is clogged up with residue and needs cleaning to solve the problem.
Four, it’s also possible your cooker isn’t cooking with enough steam because there is not enough heat or water to create the steam. In this case, refer to the pressure cooker recipe.
Always follow the correct procedure before opening the lid of a pressure cooker.
How do you know when your food is done in a pressure cooker?
When the pressure cooker reaches the full operational pressure, the timing for cooking starts from this point. The process is straightforward. Set your timer and when the timer goes off, the food is done.
The duration of cooking time depends on what you are cooking, but most pressure cooker meals can be done within 15 minutes to an hour.
Recommended pressure cooker that whistles…
Hawkins is a trusted brand in pressure cookers.
Advantages include stainless steel, which I recommend over aluminum types, and curved body for easy stirring/clean up.
It works on all stovetops including induction.
3L size is ideal size for 3–4 person meals. Other sizes are also available. Clicking on the image will take you to Amazon to learn more including the latest price and other sizes.
Pressure cooking is a way to cook food quickly and efficiently. Pressure cooking uses steam pressure in order to create high temperatures to help speed up the process. I recommend stainless steel pressure cookers over aluminum ones — read my article on material types for cookware, to know why.