I searched high and low before settling on this electric pressure cooker. It is by far the best product on the market. The interior pot is stainless steel - no non stick coating to flake off into your food. The stainless steel is thick and durable. It cleans very easily. I always wait to review an appliance until I have really had a chance to use it - giving a better review - and so far I have made: steamed corn on the cob, steamed carrots, carrots and turnips, potatoes - once with a roast and once just on their own, chili, pork roast, gravy, quinoa, rice and soup. Everything has turned out exceptionally well with little effort (potatoes only need to be scrubbed and can be cooked whole or cut in half - corn cobs need to be stacked on trivit with a cup and a half of water). This is my first experience with pressure cooking and I really couldn't be more impressed. It is a VERY well thought out product with a lot of high end features. There are a few things to take note of:
1. The steaming vent on the top of the lid (a large black knob) is supposed to be lose and wiggle around very easily. I thought my machine was broken when I first opened it. This knob rises as the steam builds up in the appliance when cooking and does become stiffer once the pot reaches proper cooking pressure. I spent a lot of time trying to research the venting knob to see if the sloppiness was normal and after about an hour of online searching, I figured out that the lid is specifically designed this way. I am hoping this hint will save some other customers a lot of time.
2. Don't cook a recipe that isn't designed for a pressure cooker without converting the recipe first. This might sound silly to an experienced pressure cook - but to a novice it was not. I learned this one the hard way. I made my Mom's homemade chili in the pressure cooker - thinking I would be clever and save myself a hour and half of cooking time - but I ended up with a burnt end result. Luckily, I was home at the time and shut the machine off and finished cooking my chili on the stovetop - so all was not lost. I have tried a chili recipe specifically desinged for a pressure cooker since then and it turned out great.
3. I find that I am having to cook my foods for longer than what the recipe book or other online recipes state. This is due to the fact that I live at a higher altitude. Be aware that most recipes are designed for sea level and you need to add time according to how much higher you are - a very easy thing to research and figure out...don't let this discourage you from buying this item...it is well worth the effort.
4. The interior stainless steel pot holds a fair amount of food/liquids - but if you put a roast, whole chicken, or corn cobs onto the included trivet - which is recommended - you lose a number of inches of space. I only placed 5 smallish sized corn cobs onto the trivet and it was as high as I could go. I cooked a 3 - 4 lb pork roast tonight and only had room for 5 potatoes to place around it and they had to be cut up to fit. It's not a big problem for me - family of 3 - but it is something to be aware of so you can plan ahead to cook foods separately if need be.
5. The instruction manual was unclear - to me, anyway - about when it is safe for me to open the lid after cooking my foods. Could I open it immediately after the cooker switches to keep warm? Did I have to wait? Did I have to manually vent the steam? Again, this might seem silly to an experienced pressure cook - but with me being a newbie, I was really quite intimidated to open the lid. I had watched the lid fly off my mother-in-laws stovetop pressure cooker at Christmas time and it just about took my head off. I had no idea before then how dangerous pressure cookers could be - so if you are a first time user - use caution. The trick is to make sure, before opening the lid, that the pressure has been released by turning the venting knob on the top of the lid to make sure that the steam is not built up. If you turn the vent to the side and it lets out steam - just wait for the steam to finish releasing. When it is finished releasing steam you are safe to open the lid. I used a kitchen towel to do this and now that I have used the machine a few times, I am an old pro. I was scared to open it for the first two or three times - but now I have a good handle on what to do and how it works. Hoping these tips will save some other new pressure cooks some valuable time.
The pressure cooker is quite large. It does take up a lot of space. I have been keeping mine on the counter because I have been using it so much, but that might not be practical for some users. I love that I can sear in the pot with the lid off before pressure cooking. Many, many pressure cooking recipes require foods to be browned or sauted first or thickened afterward. This feature - which was only a feature with this particular electric pressure cooker - was a HUGE bonus. I love that I can slow cook in it if I want to. This pressure cooker cooks at approx 11 PSI - most recipes are written to work with 15 PSI - so expect to add some additional cooking time to your recipes - again something that I had to research individually - this is ontop of adding additional time for your altitude. It was very simple for me to register my product in the companies website. Took very little time for the item to arrive via courier.
I am really enjoying my new appliance. The only real downfall I have found is that it does not come with a stainless steel steaming basket - something that you really will need - but collapsable ones are easy to find and should solve the problem. I would not hesitate to buy this item again, to give it as a gift or to recommend it to a family memeber. Great appliance. Take advantage of the free shipping while it is available. I was also charged no tax - an added bonus! Best of luck with your pressure cooking. Bon Appetit!