Evening culinary bleg…

Does anybody know anything about small pressure cookers? Like, does somebody make one less than four quarts, not made of aluminum, and withing a poor old hermit’s means? I’ve spent some time researching them, and am getting confused. At this altitude, it does seem to be the only way I’m ever going to get a decent pot of beans, but I don’t know what to get or whether I could afford one I want.

Advice gratefully accepted.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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19 Responses to Evening culinary bleg…

  1. suek says:

    Be sure you can get the rubber gasket for whatever you buy. A spare wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. And a pressure gauge…

    I’ve never done beans in a pressure cooker, though I used to do a fair amount of cooking with one. You have to be _really_ careful with beans – they tend to froth, which plugs up the steam release hole, which will cause the whole thing to go BOOM! Not the desired effect.

    Why don’t you just soak overnight and then cook?

    Found these as well:



    Although the way I learned to tell the beans were cooked is to take one out and blow on it – if they’re done, the skin splits and curls back.

  2. Tahn says:


    I agree with SUEK plus I have read that the the finest cooked beans never touch metal, just stoneware. Not even a metal spoon. This was from a long forgotten Mexican chefs blog but I understand that Boston Bakes Beans are also baked without metal.

    In the winter I just simmer a stoneware pot on the wood stove and in summer a bake hole outside.

    Also, never add cold water to hot beans. Good luck.

  3. Joel says:

    I can soak the beans – hell, I can boil the beans – for days and they *will* *not* go soft. Never had this problem anywhere else – you soak the beans and they soften up, that’s what soaking them is for. Doesn’t work here. I’m told it’s due to the altitude, though I don’t know why. I’m also told the only way to make use of beans here is to use a pressure cooker. I have no personal expertise indicating whether this is actually true.

  4. Ahab says:

    Checked out two different pressure cookers, WMF & Rikon Kuhn. Both at 2 1/2 qt, and both very pricey. The WMF, German mfr, goes for $250, and the other @ $185. They’re both online and both out of your price range. Successful high altitude cooking is a true art. Took me several years of putzing with foodstuffs and cooking to do a decent job of it while living in a suburb of Denver.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you can find them, you might want to try using Anasazi beans. They taste like pintos but are bred to cook faster. Still takes all day here at 8500′. K

  6. Try your thrift shops again Joel next time you go into town, good luck.

  7. Dick says:

    Seeing the prices quoted by Ahab above (ouch!), that 2 Litre or 2.113 quart is stainless steel Hawkins is only 57 dollars, new and shipping is free.

    They are less expensive because they are made in India

    Here is their catalog: http://www.hawkinscookers.com/downloads/pc_catalog.pdf

    I don’t need one because I live at 250 foot, but I once was a camp cook at 9000 foot for week. It was hard enough just lighting charcoal.

  8. suek says:

    Look what I found! You’re not alone! and if you don’t want to visit the site, she says you’re right – you need a pressure cooker!


  9. suek says:

    This page had good info on cooking beans in a pressure cooker, if you’re not familiar with pressure cooker use…


  10. Weetabix says:

    I’d get a six quart pressure cooker. That way, you can put four pint jars in it and use it as a pressure canner as well. I got mine off of ebay for somewhere around $40, I think. I’ve canned extra gumbo, chili, etc in it, and it keeps well.

  11. Weetabix says:

    Oh, yeah: and get steel rather than aluminum.

  12. suek says:


    Why steel rather than aluminum?

    What premium would you put on the steel? Would you pay twice as much??? half again…3X???

    Mine is an old Presto – and aluminum, I think. (I don’t want to dig it out to check) I never gave the material a thought…

  13. suek says:

    Checked ebay just for the heck of it. Searched based on lowest price (used my zip – yours would be different) and had to go to page 20 (out of 54!) to find any actual pots. Everything prior to that was parts or cookbooks. Page 20 had a new steel Presto 6 qt for $23+, but with three days left and one bidder apparently _very_ determined, that’s likely to move on to a higher destiny and a later page.

    Very interesting, though. Lots of brands I was unfamiliar with. Good info…

  14. Weetabix says:


    I like stainless because:
    a) it’s easier to clean without damaging it,
    b) it’s impervious to acidic foods (think tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili, etc) which AL is not,
    c) it’s tougher (I’m not careful enough with my stuff, so I like it to be durable),
    d) it’s said to conduct heat better with no hotter spots that will burn, (I could be off base on this one),
    e) I think the alzheimer’s/AL cookware connection has been proven false, but why risk it?
    f) the stainless ones are said to be better constructed in general.

    I have to admit that I’m usually biased toward SS over AL in general because of items a, b, and c, so take this answer as not entirely objective.

    I’d probably go 2x on price, but I think if you shop wisely, you could get one for about the same price.

    And thanks for the links! I see more beans in my future.

    Joel – I second GL’s thrift shop recommendation. You can get parts for most makers’ pressure cookers online if you’re missing a seal or a weight or something.

  15. Joel says:

    Thanks for the info, guys! 8^)

  16. suek says:

    Re stainless steel cookware generally…

    I have Revere Ware (SS with either a 3-layer bottom, or copper bottomed), and wouldn’t change it for anything. Burn something terribly?? just fill with water, add baking soda, bring to a boil, let cook, and the stuff comes up. I’ve used aluminum, but although I never really had a problem with it, I prefer SS as well. Just never had reason to compare Pressure cookers.

    By the way – making a long story short – don’t buy new Revere Ware. These days, it’s made in Indonesia. Look on Ebay and thrift shops. Check the bottom – made in Clinton Indiana is the original, although some was made in some other places. Corning ware also got sold off. They – and Pyrex, I think – belong to American Housewares or some such. If you have spare time to research, it’s an interesting tale. Not of any real importance, but interesting.

  17. suek says:

    Oops…didn’t proof read. “bring to a boil, let cool with a lid on…” etc.

To the stake with the heretic!