Is your cook top sabotaging the pressure cooker? how gas, induction and electric cooktops affect pressure cooking

Each cook top has its own quirks. The speed of induction and sluggishness of electric cook tops can affect the performance of the pressure cooker. Here’s how to get the best from your pressure cooker in any situation.

The dirty little secret of the “industry” is…

… that most pressure cooker recipes, and timing charts, are written for pressure cookers working under ideal conditions.  Immediate heat, immediate and precise temperature control and an average predicted time for the cooker to reach pressure.  In other words, they are written for pressure cookers on gas cook tops.

A reader poll taken earlier this month, revealed that over half (54%) use their pressure cookers on a gas cook top; 18% used electric and only 5% induction cook tops; about a quarter (23%) use electric pressure cookers so there’s no worry of sabotage in their kitchens!

Here are the adjustments that need to be made for pressure cooking according to the type of cook top that’s being used.

Electric and Halogen Cook Tops

Although halogen cook tops heat-up in seconds and turn off immediately, their ceramic cover does not, leaving the cookware heated by it in similar conditions as an electric coil or element: slow to heat and slow to cool – compared to gas. These are both important considerations since a pressure cooker is brought to pressure at maximum heat, and then when it reaches pressure the mechanism expects the cook to immediately turn the heat down to the lowest heat the cooker requires to maintain pressure.  Not doing this could result in scorched food, or worse, the secondary pressure release valve to kick-in (which releases large plumes of vapor) to stop the pressure form building further than the cooker’s design can safely handle.

Solution: Do the switcharoo!  While bringing your cooker to pressure on the largest burner, turn on a smaller burner at lower heat.  When the cooker reaches pressure, gently move it from the large hot burner to the smaller low pre-heated burner and begin counting the pressure cooking time.

Induction Cook Tops

Induction cook tops can bring a cooker up to pressure 60% faster than gas – that’s in just 4 1/2 minutes instead of 11 starting with a “cold” cooker.1  The contents can boil, generate vapor, and bring the cooker pressure even before the the lid is hot!2  Once the “heat” is turned off pressure cookers on induction burners cool down 20% faster than gas (9 minutes instead of 11 – in our tests) .   The mechanics and efficiency of induction cooking reduce the heat transferred to the sides and top of the cooker  and concentrate it in the base.  Less overall time to pressure and a smaller area of residual heat to continue cooking during natural release translates into undercooked food.

Solution: Increase the recommended pressure cooking time 2 to 3 minutes for a recipe that begins in a “cold cooker” and 1 minute for a recipe that  begins in a pre-heated cooker (for example, a recipe that begins with sauteed onions).  Instead, if the recipe indicates the cooker be opened with Natural Release (which uses residual heat), increase the total recommended pressure cooking time by 5 minutes . Don’t worry, your induction burner is still faster than cooking on gas since there is virtually no waiting for the cooker to come to pressure with induction.

Gas Cook Tops

For gas cook tops there is not need to take any additional steps.  Simply follow recipe directions and recommended cooking times as given.

Your pressure cooker is not being sabotaged by your gas cook top!

See also:

1Tests were preformed 3 times each on gas cook top (using 20cm burner burning GPL) and induction burner (using 2000w setting) with a room temperature 6L Magefesa Ideal filled with 1 kilo (about 4 cups) of room temperature water. We measured the time to High pressure, counted 10 minutes pressure cooking time, and timed the natural release. Calculations are based on the average of the three results from each test.
2We measured the external temperature of the pressure cooker lid when it reached pressure for a pressure cooker on gas, the lid registered an average of 104F or 40C ; and, on induction the lid registered 91F or 33C