Does your Pressure Cooker smell like last month's Rib-Fest or Spaghetti dinner? Here are a few tips to keep it clean, odor-free and safer to use...top to bottom!
Tip #1: Be quick about it. If you are the type to leave a pot soaking in the sink overnight...think twice about pressure cooking. If you must leave the pot itself, ok, but absolutely do not leave the lid dirty and unattended for more than a couple of hours.
Heat rises, steam rises and pressure rises so it is no surprise that the lid captures the majority of the food particles, oils and odors. Therefore, keeping the lid clean is paramount!
Tip #2: Clean the gasket after every use. As soon as possible, remove the lid from the pressure cooker, turn it over and remove the gasket (see pic 1). If the lid is still hot, carefully use tongs to pull the gasket free and place it into hot soapy water.
Once upon a time, gaskets were made from rubber and would dry out and crack if introduced to harsh chemicals; this made them very hard to keep unstained and odor-free. Today, most gaskets are made from silicon and can take a little more abuse but you should still be very careful what you use to clean them. Never use bleach and never, ever put them into the dishwasher!
To remove the grease and stains, I generally soak mine for about 15 minutes in a mixture of Dawn dishwashing liquid and VERY HOT water. If I have cooked a tomato-based dish and the gasket is really stained, I will spray on a little bit of Greased Lightening, rub it in well and then place into the Dawn mixture to soak for 5 minutes before rinsing the gasket and soaking it again in fresh water and Dawn to remove any residue.
Tip #3: Don't use a scratchy sponge on the gasket. After the gasket has soaked, use a cloth or the soft side only of a sponge to wash the gasket. Using the scratchy side of a sponge will weaken the gasket and leave microscopic cuts which will in turn hold more grease and odors in the future.
Tip #4: Deep clean exhaust valve after Rice and Pasta. Rice and pasta leave a starchy substance that can clog up the exhaust valve, especially if you have released the pressure manually, so it is very important to clear the valve of any residue before re-using the pressure cooker.
Remove the valve cover on the top of the pressure lid to expose the valve (see pic 2). It is made to be removed so you will not break it but if you have concerns check your user manual for instructions.
The Elite pressure cooker has a second safety cover over the bottom side of valve to help keep large rice particles from blocking the valve during operation; it is removable to allow for cleaning(see pic 3). It is tight fitting but you can just pop it off using your fingers or pry it off using a butter knife; either way it does come off and you will not hurt it.
Tip #5: Do NOT use a toothpick to clear the valve! Clear the valve of debris using a wire, a thin paperclip or a needle but DO NOT poke a toothpick through the valve as it may break off and get stuck!
Other than the valves and the gasket, the rest of the lid can be washed by hand and dried like any other cookware lid.
Tip #6: Remove and clean the condensation cup. If your electric pressure cooker has a condensation cup (see pic 4), use it, remove it and clean it!
The condensation cup will catch any residual condensation and water emitted while cooking thus keeping your countertop clean and dry. It is located on the base of the electric pressure cooker, along the bottom side of the rim, toward the back, just below where the lid fastens on. It easily snaps on and off so that it can be throughly washed and dried between each use.
Tip #7: Use your dishwasher to clean the removable pot. As with any non-stick pan, use nylon utensils to scrape out any foods stuck onto the bottom and then clean the pressure pot in your dishwasher; it is easier and more sanitary.
Tip #8: Use a wooden spoon to help clean the rim. It seems easy enough, but it is often difficult to really clean the rim around the opening that holds the pot and as this is where the oily water and liquid flows on it's way to the condensation cup, it is important to disinfect this area.
I find it helpful to spray a little all-purpose cleaner onto a microfiber rag and then use the handle of a wooden spoon to help me get into all the nooks and crannies (see pic 5).
Cleaning the rest of the pressure cooker is a piece of cake. Use stainless steel cleaner to keep the outside of the base sparkling clean and use a little Earth Brite or other cleaner to gently wipe down the interior of the the base if necessary. Don't forget to remove and wipe down the power cord and then turn the machine over and clean the feet or anywhere else drips and debris may be hiding.
Tip #9: Store your PC with the gasket on but the lid off. Once you have cleaned and dried your pressure cooker it is time to put it away.
Place the pot back inside the base along with the cord, the condensation cup and the manual (if desired).
Reinstall the exhaust valve covers and the gasket, invert the lid and lay it on top of the base for storing (see pic 6); do not close or lock the lid onto the base. Although you have completely washed the pressure cooker, it is almost impossible to prevent odors from lingering if you close the lid.
Note: Some people advise to keep the gasket off and store it inside the pot. I don't agree with this because the gasket can get kinked and out-of-form so I suggest you reinstall it inside the lid. Refer to your owner's manual if you aren't sure how to reinstall the gasket. Some machines have a definite this-side-up gasket design and it is very important to make sure the gasket is installed correctly as you will not be able to maintain pressure without a proper seal.
Tip #10: Freshen and Oil before the next use. Because you have stored your pressure cooker with the lid off, your odors are limited but...you may have a little dust!
The next time you want to use your pressure cooker I suggest you give the lid and the pot a quick rinse to remove any dust that may have accumulated. I also suggest that you remove the gasket, rub it with a little vegetable oil and then reinstall. This will not only ensure you will have a good seal, it will keep the gasket pliable, reduce staining and extend the life considerably.
If you have any other tips that you would like to share about keeping your pressure cooker clean and odor free...PLEASE SHARE!! Thanks, Alison