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How do I keep my pot in perfect condition?

The maintenance and care of your cooker, piece by piece

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How do I know if the rubber on my cooker is worn
Is the valve on my cooker working properly
What is the safety valve for
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We answer these questions and a few more in the post dedicated to the maintenance of our pressure cooker.

The autumn/winter season is the most characteristic for the use of the pressure cooker. Although in the warmer seasons they also have their use, when the cooler weather arrives, spoon dishes and stews arrive. Get used to the idea: autumn is already here, and it's got some pretty cool stuff in it.

The pot is a classic ally for food preparation in the kitchen. It allows us to save a LOT of time cooking all kinds of dishes - especially vegetables - and also reduces energy consumption in the kitchen. The preparation of food is, together with the thermal regulation of the home, one of the main responsible for the energy consumption of the house.

The cooker is also a "household appliance" that requires and needs specific and very important maintenance and cleaning, as it accelerates the cooking of the food thanks to the pressure inside it. The pressure is dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. However, cookware is equipped with various safety systems to prevent incidents in the kitchen. The important thing is, as on most occasions, to be well-informed and careful.

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At this time of year, we must check the condition of our pot. In this short article we will unravel in a generic way and put some of the most illustrative examples of the sensitive points of our pot.

  • The rubber
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The pot's rubber is its wear part par excellence: every year, at least, the pot's rubber must be changed, as it suffers deformations due to its use. Always buy the original pot rubber, as they are made of materials approved by law and subject to food and safety regulations. There are silicone rubbers, silicone rubber and rubber (the old rubbers and of worse quality, which deform with the passage of time and pressure). The original rubbers have a certain hardness and flexibility, which make them specific for each brand and model of cooker. The importance of flexibility and hardness is due to the fact that most of the lids of fast cookers have a window so that, in case of excess pressure, the rubber deforms and the excess pressure comes out of the side before causing an explosion.

Images: Silicone Rubber, Silicone Rubber and Rubber Gum

Images.

At the top you can see the security window

When do I change the rubber on my cooker? When the rubber wears out, leaks (pressure losses) occur from the side of the lid, which can sometimes condense on the bottom handle of the lid. In some brands, such as the Fagor fast cooker models, you can also check for wear by lightly shaking the lid with the rubber on, if it makes noise it is because, due to heat and pressure it has shrunk a little, and it is not quite tight to the steel of the lid.

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  • Valve (operating valve)

The pot's valve has a double function: to let us know when the pot has reached sufficient and adequate pressure for the correct cooking of the food, and to release excess pressure in case of not lowering the heat at the necessary moment.

** Here we are going to make an aside, because in many occasions, we do not know the correct operation of the pot and we do not use the pot valve properly. In the fast cookers (not the classic ones, in which a rotating valve on a chimney turns continuously to continuously release the pressure) when the pressure of the pot has reached a maximum, the valve indicates us, by means of the sound of the steam coming out of the valve, that we must lower the fire of the stove. That is to say: the pot has already reached its maximum pressure, from this moment, you only have to keep the pressure stable inside, in most cases you can maintain the pressure only with the fire set to 2 (on a ceramic hob with regulation from 1 to 10).

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With regard to the valve, it is necessary to know how to disassemble it to keep it clean. In Fagor fast cookers, you only have to turn the valve indicator to the left, while lifting it slightly, to be able to disassemble it (see video). This system has been incorporated by the new Magefesa quick cookers (since 2013). In the old Magefesa pots, the valves were removed by simply pulling them out. In the WMF cookware models, the valve is built into the handle, and there is a removable rubber (see video) that can be snapped off and easily cleaned.

Magefesa (since 2013).

It is necessary to change the valve of the cooker as soon as any damage is noticed: the valve is one of the main safety systems of the cooker and the first one in charge of regulating the pressure of the cooker.

  • Safety valve
  • Safety valve
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The pressure cooker safety valve is a safety system incorporated to prevent accidents if there is an obstruction, a serious deformation in the operating valve or if, once the maximum pressure has been reached, maximum heat is still applied from the stove to the pot. The safety valve is, therefore, a safety system that, if the rest of the cooker is in perfect condition, and we use the cooker correctly, it never needs to be activated. That is why it is advisable to check once a year (at least) the operation of this spare part: if it has moving parts (see video), verify that these move correctly or, if it is rubber (see photo), check that it has enough flexibility.

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  • Mango
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... And when we talk about handle, we mean the lid handle, which is the one that has complex functional elements, since the rest of the spare handles and handles are more or less simple grips and supports that can be changed only with a couple of screws.

The lid handle is usually also the housing for one or both valves of the pot. It is usually made of a paste of plastic material with moving parts. It is, therefore, a part sensitive to deformations that we have to watch frequently. In both Fagor and Magefesa models, the plastic of the handle also fixes the valve (see image), so that a break in any flange or rail may cause the valve to fail to perform its function. In WMF models, the handle carries most of the valve and locking systems of the pot, and is not removable.

In addition, the handle usually includes the locking system, by means of a tab that activates a simple mechanism that makes the valve start working. This system can also suffer deformations and prevent the correct closing of the pot.

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Images: pot valve housing and locking system on the handle

Images.

  • Pot deformations
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Sometimes, due to shocks or VERY, VERY intense use of the pan, it can become deformed. Although it is unusual that the container suffers deformations that affect the pressure of the pot, there are occasions in which the lid can be deformed, causing the lateral rotation movement necessary to close the pot to be performed in a laborious and forced way. In these cases IT IS RECOMMENDED NOT TO USE THE PAN. This forced movement may cause the internal pressure not to be released correctly in the event of any problem with the valves, which may lead to serious problems.

Conclusion: pot maintenance is not as complicated as it may seem. The cooker is a fairly practical and simple way of cooking, and you simply need to check the operation of the main functional parts. With a review of this script, you can be confident that the cooker is working properly and that it is safe to use. And from then on, all that remains is to enjoy cooking.