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With our focus on electric pressure cookers, and their ability to do so much more than just pressure cook we’ve updated the review process.  Here’s what’s in, what’s out and what will remain the same with reviews published from November 2017 and onwards.

Testing out the Special Functions

While previous reviews of electric pressure multi cookers only focused on the pressure cooking function, from now on we’ll cook with and test all the new functions from Slow Cooking, to Yogurt, and more.  Where there is some confusion whether a “function” is actually just a program (a pre-set time and temperature/pressure that can be chosen with any function) we’ll point those out so you’ll know how many things the cooker can actually do.

More accurate Evaporation Measure

We used to measure evaporation between models much like we do the hot water test – which is still useful for eyeballing performance at home – but this is not very accurate.  As you soon as you release pressure in the cooker, or even during natural release, the liquid is already evaporating, in fact, evaporating. Now I weigh the empty cooker,  add 1L (1KG) of water, and then weigh it after pressure cooking for 10 minutes (before releasing pressure) to see how much water was lost in the build-up to pressure and 10 minutes of pressure cooking time with a margin of error of about a gram.

New way to measure evaporation loss for reviews.
Thermocouple Type K thermometer measurements.

Double-checking Default Temperatures

We used to take the manufacturer’s word about whether the programs are heating according to spec.  Now, I use a Thermocouple Type K probe to check if the defaults for Saute’ are actually reaching the target temperature. This type of thermometer can provide more accurate readings than a  probe (the ones you stab in meat, for example) or infrared (doesn’t read reflective surfaces and liquids well) thermometers.

Although by themselves, temperature measurements may not appear meaningful, they’re a great way to compare functionality between manufacturers – and investigate issues.

High-Precision Remote Data Logger

We will continue to use the High-Temperature Remote Data Logger for evaluating the pressure cooking programs.  Although the resulting charts were linked to the bottom of the previous reviews (in the “other details” section) this information will be included directly in the section of the review that evaluates the pressure cooking program.

The logger is suspended in water in a cotton “sling” so that it is actually measuring the temperature of the liquid every 10 seconds from the time it is added to the pressure cooker until pressure is released and the logger is submerged in cold water to cool it enough to download its data into the computer.

This makes a comparison of pressure cooking programs between manufacturers more simple.

Hello, Quick Video Summaries

Shortly after the written review is published, we will produce a short video narrating the main points – just in case you want a quick overview before delving into the details. Also, some things just lend themselves better to being shown rather than narrated.

Buh-bye, Score and Points

We’re no longer going to score the reviews.  Many of the points made in the review are subjective and we’ve tried to use the scoring system in different ways.  In the last batch of reviews, we removed .25 of a point for everything we found wrong with a cooker (pings). This scoring system, though, ended up negatively impacting manufacturers who took a chance with a new feature that could have used a better execution – artificially giving a higher score to less-innovative solid cookers.

Removing the scoring system will give more attention to the review’s conclusion where you’ll get the bottom line of exactly why I recommend or don’t recommend a cooker.

Selective Reviews

BTW, it’s worth mentioning that there are many cookers that I don’t even bother reviewing (even if the manufacturer sent it to me) – that’s not changing. I don’t want to waste my time or your time on something that is inherently unsafe, dangerous or simply a carbon-copy of a more successful brand. Last year, a  new brand sent me photos of their cooker’s boxes sitting next to a successful brand’s box in the loading doc of a Chinese factory.  I already know many cookers are made in the same factory – its the specs, materials, and troubleshooting by the brand make the real difference.  I won’t fall for those tricky tactics so you won’t have to, either.

 

I hope that you’ll find these new additions and changes to the review process helpful – and please feel free to ask me any question or clarification on the process I use to review pressure cookers!

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5 Comments

  1. I’m a gadget freak, so I had been thinking about an IP and when this beauty came out I jumped right on it and never looked back. I LOVE MY ULTRA!
    I do believe I’m going to order the non stick inner pot for certain foods, some foods just can’t help themselves and want to stick.
    I personally have never had a problem with the saute function, and hopefully I won’t…

    Thanks for the updated review,
    Karen

  2. I also own and really like my ultra! I think Laura’s new review format should help a lot of people make better choices. Everyone with a pressure cooker should appreciate the effort that Laura puts into the industry. Thanks again Laura for all of your information and help.

    1. Thank you, Andy.

      Ciao,

      L <3

  3. My biggest problem with a few multi-cookers I’ve tried is that the “low” setting temperature is almost in the “high” setting range. I have a Breville multi-cooker right now that has a “simmer” setting which seems to fill the void that used to be “low”. Even the “warm” setting seems to be holding at right around 140 degrees. I have only used my temperature probes in water to measure, so I’m sure my numbers aren’t terribly accurate. I would love some real numbers to attach to those slow cooker settings.
    Thanks.
    Sue Fourmet

  4. Red-faced, I am (to quote Yoda). The simmer setting I spoke of is not an option on my Breville. In fact, the low setting on the Breville has such a high cooking temperature that I only use the slow cooker function when I want to cook something on “high”. Sorry for my error.
    Sue Fourmet

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