After reading too many reviews, if not the actual news account about the perils of pressure cookers, the All American 921 21-1/2 pressure cooker appears to be the hero that this home kitchen device needs to save it from total rejection from consumers.
With too many brands in the market today, coming from all parts of the world, this sort of accident happens once or twice too often to ignore. It has actually happened to me, and it was a good thing I wasn’t too close to the pressure cooker when it happened.
The lid just blew off from the boiling pressure and liquid from the pressure cooker spurted 12 feet onto the kitchen ceiling, messing up everything, including my range hood and kitchen floor. I was shocked and shaken by the incident, but it was a good thing nobody was hurt.
It took me months before I could recover from the shock. “What if it blows up again,” I always asked myself every time I considered buying a new one.
Life without a Pressure Cooker
As a cooking hobbyist, I cannot be without a pressure cooker. And as the family breadwinner, I can’t afford to spend long periods in the kitchen just cooking. I don’t also want to miss out on the benefits of having a pressure cooker in the house, like its ability to preserve the natural nutrients in vegetables, which my family and I need.
Before long, I was beginning to look for one over the internet when I remembered my mother’s pressure cooker, which she has not replaced for as long as I can remember. It’s what she uses when cooking Braised Pork Belly or humba, an oriental concoction of pork belly cooked in vinegar, chocolate, sugar, bay leaves, and garlic. It’s a family’s favorite, and no gathering in our clan is ever complete without this dish.
My mother refers to her pressure cooker as the “all-American”, but it’s actually an All American 921 21-1/2 Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner, a product of the Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry, one of the oldest aluminum foundry companies in the United States, with over 100 years of history.
A cursory look at the pressure cookers made by this company would immediately reveal that the lid contains six clamping locks that are securely fixed and aligned to the base or pot, which is made of thick anodized aluminum. The clamps are locked from both sides with screws that almost tell me “fear not.” It has likewise, three locking screws to stop the lid from blowing off even if the screws are accidentally loosened in the course of time.
Aside from the clamps, the lid contains a pressure setting regulator with three readable settings to measure the pressure. If you’re not able to lower the temperature in time, another safety feature is in place – a pressure gasket that releases steam when pressure from the sealed cooking pot gets too high. These features, together with my mother’s unsolicited endorsement and experience, assuaged my inner fear and restored my confidence in the pressure cooker.
The pressure gasket is the only consumable part of the entire package, and you can use it for a year before it needs to be replaced. I say this because a pressure gasket is different from the ring gasket that keeps liquid from boiling over the lid. In the All American 921 21-1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner, there’s no need for the ring gasket. It has been replaced by a durable metal-to-metal seal built with engineering precision to stop the liquid from the pressure cooker from escaping. With advances in technology, Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry uses computer-aided design techniques and robotic finishing equipment to ensure both durability and safety of its products.
This is not to say, of course, that the pressure cooker, or any cooking device for that matter, is accident-proof. We all need to be safety conscious. Below are a few tips to remember if you have a pressure cooker at home:
- Use kitchen mitts for handling hotpots
- Never allow rice – or other foods that expand – and water to exceed half the pot when cooking using your pressure cooker
- Allow the pressure gauge to drop to zero before opening the pot
- Open the lid away from your body, not towards your body to avoid the steam
- Do not use or lift the pot using the lid handle; use only the pot handles.
- Read the cooker’s instruction manual before using the cooker
This last part is very important. Even if you have had experience in the use of pressure cookers, you still need to read and understand the instruction manual because each cooker is different from the rest, depending on the manufacturer. They generally have their own safety features, that you must learn and recognize for your own good, but I find the All American 921 21-1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner a standout on the issue of safety.
How to Use
In the old days, a pressure cooker consisted of a pot, a cover, a metal jig, and a circular cover gasket, which you needed to replace every so often. You just have to place raw food, ingredients, and water inside the pot, and presto, you’re cooking. The countdown begins once the jig begins to move and make a hissing sound. If you’re preparing beef stew, you need at least 30 minutes from the time the jig makes a sound. You don’t use it for vegetables.
Today’s new models have an accompanying rack or metal insert at the bottom of the cooker. You need it to raise whatever is being cooked inside – specifically vegetables – above the liquid in order to steam it. This contraption is also necessary for canning purposes.
For most other cooking, the following instructions should be observed:
1. Each model requires a minimum amount of liquid. The All American 921 21-1/2 needs at least a half cup of water per 20 minutes of cooking time. You need to create a space of at least 1/3 to produce pressure. When cooking foods that tend to create froth, you should not fill your pot more than half full.
2. Place the food inside the pot and attach the lid with locks in place.
3. Put the pressure cooker on the stove and set the heat on high to bring the cooker to pressure.
4. Take note when the correct pressure is reached for your recipe. You can choose from 5 psi, 10 psi, and 15 psi depending on your recipe.
5. Immediately lower the heat of the stove as soon as the correct pressure is reached and maintain that pressure. Start timing.
6. Take out the pressure cooker from the burner when the cooking time is up, but don’t touch the lid or cover.
7. Uncover your pressure cooker ONLY after all the pressure inside the cooker has been released. You can check the pressure gauge for this. You should open the cover away from your face to avoid the residual steam.
The following are three ways to release the pressure:
Canning hen and sausage gumbo with southernfoodwayalliance
Canning, a food preservation method in which foods are processed and sealed in airtight containers, is one of two important functions of the All American 921. Canning allows you to increase the shelf life of food from one to five years. This helps in having a continuous supply of your favorite foods, even if they are not in season, like fruits and vegetables.
The label of the All American 921 21 ½” simply means the model number of the unit is 921 and it can hold up 21 ½ quarts of liquid. This translates to 16 pint-sized jars or 8 quart-sized jars. It’s not too big nor too small, just an ideal size for an average canning household that finds joy sharing goodies to families and friends.
It’s really simple to use. You just have to use the metal rack that accompanies the canner and load your jars on it. If you’re using quart jar, then you occupy only one layer of the canner. If pint jars, you need to place another metal rack on top of the first layer for the next layer. With that done, you can add some water, place the cover, latch it gently, put in on your biggest burner, and turn it on in high heat.
For canning purposes, you usually use 10 psi pressure and maintain it for 30 minutes when this pressure is reached. I won’t go into more detail. Your cooker comes with a detailed instruction booklet with recipes and everything you need to operate the cooker and preserve your favorite beans, tomatoes, salsa, meats, and every imaginable preparation you want to preserve in cans and serve your family and friends.
Of course, there are a few downsides, but they’re not quite enough to discourage anyone from purchasing this useful piece of home cooking machine. Yes, it’s heavy, but it couldn’t be lighter if you want a stable and safe pressure cooker. The pressure regulator is not attached and technically prone to getting lost. However, this device is cheap. I bought an extra one and stashed it away for safekeeping just in case.
Some users have reported problems opening the cooker, but it’s really just a matter of getting used to it. The instruction manual tells you to use a small bit of petroleum gel, but I use a small amount of cooking oil on my finger, run it around the rim of the cover, and this solves the problem. After a couple of uses, I feel like an expert – and so would you.
In the end, the pros far outweigh the cons, if you may call them that. After all, its benefits and safety that really matter in our choice of home cooking devices.
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