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What are the dangers in using a pressure cooker?

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There are three primary dangers in using a pressure cooker. One is the failure of the vessel during a cooking evolution. The earliest pressure cookers failed once in a while, and the results were terrible. You can imagine the metal vessel rupturing with the resulting release of a large quantity of extremely hot material and superheated water, not to mention the metal fragments. It's been a long time since things like that happened. The pots are engineered too well for that, and they are built with much more care (greater quality control).
The second possible danger is failure of the rubber seal during a cooking operation. This is unusual, but it can happen. The lid will remain on, but hot food and/or superheated water and steam will escape. If one is in close proximity, one can be burned. Then there's the mess to clean up. Keep the sealing gasket clean and dry. Inspect it regularly, and replace it if any cracks are visible.
The third of the primary dangers is associated with opening the vessel before the pressure inside has equalized. The owner's guide will tell the user how to avoid that. Follow those guidelines. Please. A good quality cooker that is used with the original seals and pressure regulating weight will be safe when the manufacturer's instructions are followed and some common sense is applied in support of cooking operations. Oh, and it's always a good idea to be very careful when lifting the weight to release the pressure prior to opening the cooker. Steam burns are one of the most common kitchen injuries. There will be a release of heat and steam when the lid is removed following proper depressurization, too. Watch out for that. Always make sure you lock the lid on to the pressure cooker securely. Sure, it sounds obvious enough but failure to do so could well lead to an explosion leaving you with second degree burns on your hands and face - I speak from experience! High pressure steam should be treated with caution and respect!
In general, pressure cookers work very well. By using steam to cook food, the food doesn't burn at the higher cooking temperatures that are attained, and by pressurizing the steam in the vessel, the cooking temperature can be raised considerably above the boilng point of water. The higher cooking temperatures provided by the pressurized steam will drive heat into the contents faster than it would penetrate at lower temperatures. It's a heat transfer concept. This results in a much shorter cooking time, and that's common knowledge. Oh, and did you know that the metal of the pressure vessel is stronger at cooking temperatures that at room temperature? Betcha didn't....
Bon appétit.
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