electric pressure cooker at over 5,000 feet
Given the popularity of the new generation of electric pressure cookers today, I'd like to know can they safely be used at high altitude? The ones I've looked at have no way to adjust the pressure inside the pot, so the only way to correct for altitude seems to be to add cooking time. Do you have any advice about using the electric cooker, and can you provide any guidelines for how to adjust times if the appliance is safe to use? Or will I need to experiment with the device to see what works best? I understand there is a wide variety of cookers on the market, so specific advice will probably not be available.
El Paso County Colorado
The USDA Food Safety website offers this information:
Is cooking affected when using a pressure cooker at high altitudes?
At high altitudes, the pressure cooker is an essential kitchen tool. By cooking under pressure you are in effect increasing the atmospheric pressure and therefore, increasing the boiling temperature of water. Food will cook faster and more thoroughly.
Pressure cookers come with one or more pre-set weighted gauges. If your pressure cooker only comes with one weighted gauge, you will need to increase the cooking time to account for the lower cooking temperature at higher altitudes. If the pressure cooker has more than one weight, you may be able to make the needed adjustment by using the higher weight. Be sure to follow the directions that come with the pressure cooker for making altitude adjustments for the type of pressure cooker you are using. If there are no recommendations for altitude adjustment, contact the manufacturer directly.
To prevent water evaporation, once the desired pressure is reached on the pressure cooker, the heat can be reduced. Regulate the heat under the pressure cooker to maintain a steady pressure at, or slightly above, the correct gauge pressure. Check the manufacturer's directions for maintaining pressure.
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