Pressure Cookers. Anyone use one?

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 18:29
ThreadID: 22232 Views:11677 Replies:11 FollowUps:14
This Thread has been Archived
Does anyone else use a pressure cooker for camp cooking?
We took one along on a recent trip and found it useful. For instance you can produce a really good lamb stew in 45 minutes with verry little gas needed. Pressure cookers are very popular in India where fuel is scarce.
The one we have is an old small Hawkins brand got at a church jumble sale for about $2, almost as new. It is light and strong and seems nothing to break.

We also use one at home, a larger Hawkins with a machined base for stove top use. The other has a lighter bottom suiting gas burners.

I first saw one of these used in the field by the cook on a trek in Nepal over 20 years ago. Very useful at 12,000 feet altitude.

Phil I
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Member - Peter R (QLD) - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 18:59

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 18:59
G'day Phil1,
We used to use a pressure cooker but now use a dream pot.

At about lunch time today I put on a stew made with lamb forequarter chops and it took 10 minutes for me to supervise the cooking, prior to putting into the Dream Pot.
At 6 pm took it out and served it with steamed vegies and it was beautiful.

The benefit of the Dream Pot while caravaning is that the meal can be prepared in the morning and Dream Pot can be stored in the caravan sink during the day, while travelling and opened when ready to eat at night.

The longest time I have taken to cook anything is 20 minutes for Corned Meat with vegtables.

Very convenient and produces the goods.

AnswerID: 107576

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 20:19

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 20:19
Sounds like a modern, but expensive, variation on straw box cooking.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 364463

Follow Up By: Member - Peter R (QLD) - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 20:47

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 20:47
G'day Mike,
Where can I find out about this "straw box cooking"?

FollowupID: 364468

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 21:05

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 21:05
To my considerable surprise Google returns zero hits for “straw box cooking”! However if you type *cooking "straw box"* (without the *) it will return a few hits – perhaps I’m older than I think – I sometimes wonder about writing a book on this stuff – anyway “straw box cooking” is pretty simple: find a good solid wooden box with a lid, pack it well with straw but leave a hole in the centre. Start a stew (or any long cooking meal) and cook it until hot (should only take a few minutes) then remove it from the heat and place it in the straw box. Leave for 8 or 10 hours then eat – simple :)

If you're really interested send an e-mail toand I'll try and find more sources (sauces :) for you.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 364469

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 21:10

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 21:10
It seems the Explore Oz site snips e-mail addresses unless one is a member - which is a bit naughty when one considers this forum would be much the poorer in information without non members - anyway send an e-mail to me.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 364471

Follow Up By: greydemon - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 11:00

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 11:00
Hmm, let me think about this....$2-$10 for a pressure cooker or $294 (including freight) for an overgrown thermos flask.

With the hay box method, which I also remember from Scouting days long past, you could bring it up to date and increase efficiency by just using a cardboard box and those polystyrene packing squiggly things . You could even get the best of both worlds - when in a hurry use your pressure cooker, when you have planned ahead start the meal in the pressure cooker, when it reraches pressure stick it in you new improved 21st Century 'poly box'.

Just remember that these devices are like computers - rubbish in, rubbish out.

FollowupID: 364556

Reply By: Lone Wolf - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 19:12

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 19:12
I think the problem with Pressure Cookers, is trying to regulate the heat under them.

Anything under pressure is dangerous, and it's not the sort of thing you would say, leave on a gas stove. Probably more akin to a fire, or hot coals. Sudden wind change, or something, and the pressure has crept up...........

I think the camp Oven will do just as good a job, without the danger of pressure.

Just my opinion........

AnswerID: 107577

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 20:24

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 20:24
Pressure cookers are not at much above atmospheric and have a simple rubber pressure relief valve in them which I recall blew on one occasion when my (very competent cook) Ex. wife did something silly with a stew. Took a while to get the marks off the ceiling - pressure cookers have been used perfectly safely for _years_ - now regret throwing ours out when we bought a microwave - remember when we didn't have microwave ovens...?

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 364464

Follow Up By: Nudenut - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 20:31

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 20:31
mum used one till she died...never blew up..mum did once and while when dad came home pie-eyed from the pub!

the newer ones have so many safety points built in it could never blow up...unless one was so stupid to prevent the pressure from escaping....

If I recall 3 safety points to stop over pressure
FollowupID: 364466

Follow Up By: Firebird69 - Wednesday, Apr 27, 2005 at 16:10

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2005 at 16:10
I don't think that Lone Wolf, Motherhen and others have fully grafted the advantages of the pressure cooker. Some of you have made references to the old "soup-on-the-ceiling" past. But the new "second generation" pressure cookers are 100% safe. Some of these old pressure cookers found at garage sales are of the old generation with limited safety pressure release systems but most of them are still alright when used correctly. Comparing those pressure cookers to the new second generation pressure cookers is like comparing the horse and buggy to a modern day car.

The fact is that a pressure cooker is the ideal companion for camping or caravanning. Its your one-pot-does-all. As well as saving you 60-70% of the cooking time (and thus a substantial saving in gas), cooking with a pressure cooker is far more nutricious and flavoursom. It also enables you to use cheaper ingredients as it tenderises even the toughest of meats. The variety of dishes you can cook in a pressure cooker is almost unlimited but the pot can also serve as a simple saucepan or even a stockpot so there is not much need for any other pots. For these very same reasons, pressure cookers are extremely popular for boating and all my yachty friends swear by them. Its the best fuel saving and space saving appliance in the galley.

Have I convinced you yet. If not consult the experts, visit the pressure cooker specialists, the PRESSURE COOKER CENTRE,

Whilst they (the Pressure Cooker Centre) are in Western Australia, they dispatch pressure cookers & spares parts to all corners of the world and can be contacted via their website or by Toll Free phone (within Australia) on: [b]1800 266 069[/b]

I personnally own 4 pressure cookers so I've been dealing with the Pressure Cooker Centre for many years now and I can highly recommend them and their extremely friendly and helpful service. If you have just bought an old second hand pressure cooker at a garage sale for example, contact them for advice or spare parts.

But as for the pressure cooker, "Don't leave home without one"
in fact "don't leave a home without one".
FollowupID: 365180

Follow Up By: Firebird69 - Wednesday, Apr 27, 2005 at 16:29

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2005 at 16:29
I note that my email address was excluded as I'm not a member, so if anyone wants any additional info or tips on pressure cooking or recipes, contact me at:

In fact, in addition to the PRESSURE COOKER CENTRE (, another excellent website for tips and recipes is: Miss Vickie's Recipes (

Best regards, Firebird69
FollowupID: 365182

Follow Up By: Member - Ross P (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 27, 2005 at 16:45

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2005 at 16:45
So Firebird69,

What's the scientific principle of these beasts! Can remember them as kid when my dad used to be very critical of these modern thingoes!!!

Assume you have higher temperature because of the increased pressure and juices etc remain in the environment.

Seems to be a different principle to the "straw-box" and opposite to one of my favorite cookers - "the slow cooker" Set up the casserole, or corned beef in the morning come home at night and enjoy.

FollowupID: 365184

Follow Up By: Firebird69 - Wednesday, Apr 27, 2005 at 19:49

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2005 at 19:49
Well Ross, I'm not know for being brief but I'll try:
Water boils at 100 degC so in an open saucepan when you have the liquid boiling, you are cooking at 100 deg C. It can't get any hotter because the water transforms into steam. However in the pressure cooker, as the pressure rises so does the boiling point of water (or any other liquids for that matter). Therefore when a pressure cooker reaches 15 psi (pounds per square inch) pressure the boiling point of water is 121 deg C. Therefore the liquid and the steam are at that temperature which is the temperature you are now cooking at. Not only will you cook faster because of the higher temperature but steam is an excellent conductor of heat and transfers the heat to the food much faster. (To see the difference: you can put your hand in an oven at 121 deg C for a while without any effect but try putting your hand in steam at 121 deg C and see how quickly you get scolded).

Jiggle top pressure cookers work at a preset pressure determined by the weight of the jiggler, usually about 10 or 12 psi. Most of todays pressure cookers have 2 or 3 pressure settings to enable selection of the temperature required. The higher the pressure, the faster the cooking.
Most recipes in specialised cookbooks and on the websites give cooking times for 15 psi pressure (the standard), yet very few pressure cookers in Australia can reach that pressure. Different models = different pressures and they vary between say 10 psi for most "jiggle tops" to say 13 psi for some of the more modern cookers. Only a few reach 15psi, for example Evinox Rapid & Europe models (15.4 psi and best value for money), Silampos Superquick (16.8 psi), Fagor Duo (15 psi) and ye old Hawkins pressure cookers (15 psi).

Just a little note: 15 psi (ie. 121 deg C) is the pressure required for full sterilisation, so you not only cook faster but you also kill any harmful bacteria. (another advantage I forgot to meantion earlier).

Also when you cook quickly in steam, the food retains all the otherwise water soluable vitamins and minerals so the foods tastes better and it is healthier.

How's that ??
FollowupID: 365209

Reply By: V8Diesel - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 20:25

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 20:25
Best things in the history of the universe ever. Soups, curries, stews, osso bucco, corned beef mmmmmmm........the cheaper the cut of meat, the better it tastes! Little gas stove is all you need.

Swap meets, garage sales etc - like you say $2 - $10 S/H. If you're in Perth, there's a pressure cooker shop on the corner of Rokeby Rd and Heytesbury Rd in Subiaco that sell 'em and spare parts, 'O' rings etc.

Glad you mentioned it because it's got me thinking.....I'm off to the shops right now for some veggies and bones to make a hearty soup. Be ready in 30 minutes.
AnswerID: 107589

Reply By: Outnabout David (SA) - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 22:21

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 22:21
Best bit of equipment in the cooking department is the old pressure cooker. Just need to know how to use them and the variety of things that can be cooked in them. Evan roasts .....yes roasts. Just gotta knoe what you are doing. As long as you keep the ho;lle for the pressure relief valve clean they are safe as anything else you may have for cooking.

Doubles as a large saucepan when the lid is off as well.
AnswerID: 107610

Reply By: motherhen - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 22:52

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 22:52
We used one years ago when our family toured UK and Europe in a camper van. Best way of getting a good "home cooked" meal quickly when we stopped. It did "blow it's top" once- and started spraying fatty liquid. My sister put her jacket over it quick and saved us all from geting splattered. The fat stains never came out of the jacket, but the van and the rest of us were unscathed.
AnswerID: 107614

Reply By: Troopy Travellers (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 10:43

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 10:43
We use a pressure cooker for lamb shanks and soups at home, no reason why it wouldnt work well on either a gas or wood fire. Its a very heavy pot if your trying to cut weight down. After our last trip away we are questioning taking "novelty" type equipment which we used once (baked dinner) in lieu of just eating good but simple stuff, cutting down weight and space, although I think the Troopy could drag an elephant in a trailer and still not faulter. Carolyn.
AnswerID: 107652

Reply By: phil - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 16:10

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 16:10
Well, I am glad that there others out there who also extoll the benefits of the pressure cooker. The idea of straw box cooking also is interesting, especially as the pressure cooker will stop any possibility of spills in transit if used as the container.
With regard to weight. The Hawkins is made of light aluminium and hardly weighs more than an equivalent sized heavy saucepan. Much lighter than a camp oven! They have a lid and opening which are oval so the lid is inserted inside the main body with a big "O" ring seal on it so the higher the pressure the firmer the seal. Simple and reliable.
Heat regulation is no trouble, just turn the gas as low as possible after it is up to pressure as shown by the weight jiggling on top. If there is more than needed the excess heat is lost as steam from under the pressure weight.
A stew made from lamb shanks, or (better) lamb neck is a wonderful thing on a cold evening.

Phil I
AnswerID: 107691

Reply By: Wombat - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 16:33

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 16:33
That's all made me hungry! Bring on the cold Winter nights, open fires and steaming hot stews, lamb shanks or roasts! What's for dinner luv?
AnswerID: 107693

Follow Up By: Troopy Travellers (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 19:26

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 19:26
Where is your sense of equality Wombat? Why not:

"Looked what I have cooked for dinner darling!!!!!" or

"I have made dinner arent I a good boy"


FollowupID: 364605

Reply By: Member Colin - NSW Bungendore - Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 13:58

Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 13:58
My pressure cooker is the main cooking item in my cooking gear. It was my mothers so it must be at least 60 yo. I dont use the pressure regulator (cant find it) but it cooks vegies, soup, stew etc really good and uses a lot less gas.

Wouldn't be without it.
AnswerID: 107813

Reply By: Troopy Travellers (NSW) - Monday, Apr 25, 2005 at 10:25

Monday, Apr 25, 2005 at 10:25
I have to say thanks Phil for starting this thread. My very old namco 11 pint pressure cooker is like lifting three bricks and thats when its empty. I went shopping on Sunday and in the car park was a market. The very first thing I saw was a guy about 35 tossing around what looked like a very light pressure cooker in his hand, he couldnt seem to open it and being a male wasnt going to ask anyone. I pretended not to notice and when he eventually walked off without it, grabbed it just ahead of someone else who had also been watching unbeknown to me. I couldnt open it either, lol, but thought there must be a way the MOTH would know how to for sure. The stall holder said it was $3 and had sat there for an hour. Its a Hawkins 4 ltre and is just the right size for us. The MOTH was very happy as he loves cooking his soup etc in the heavy one and handed me the cooker with lid separate, its just slightly oval he said thats the secret. This can double as a billy when needed and is light and useful, another addition to the "must take" list. I tried it out last night in a pretend I am camping situation and you can go here to see what I did.

link text


AnswerID: 108072

Follow Up By: phil - Monday, Apr 25, 2005 at 14:02

Monday, Apr 25, 2005 at 14:02
Glad that some useful discussion was generated. Sometimes I think of something like this and wonder if it might stimulate others.
I wonder how many of these really useful cooking devices there out there just being wasted, possibly just because people can't work out how they work.
Glad you found one!

Phil I
FollowupID: 364917

Reply By: Mike Harding - Monday, Apr 25, 2005 at 16:30

Monday, Apr 25, 2005 at 16:30
Big W have Spanish made 6lt pressure cookers for $79. I am tempted :)

Mike Harding
AnswerID: 108094

Follow Up By: Troopy Travellers (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005 at 08:17

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005 at 08:17
Depends on what you like to cook I guess Mike and for how many. Ebay has lots and I saw even a light 1.5 ltr for bush walkers. You have made me even happier with my $3 purchase, lol. Carolyn
FollowupID: 365004

Sponsored Links