24 March 2017
I never really thought much about pressure cooking until I started some doing research into it. It's amazing, absolutely amazing. I'm just so sorry it took me 19 years of my adult life to discover it. I don't think I'll have the need for my slow cooker and steamer anymore. I'm going to give you a completely honest review of the Pressure King Pro 5L. It's a very detailed review so you might wanna make a brew and grab a biscuit or two. :-)
Although I didn't order the PKP from Amazon (Very), it arrived in good sturdy retail packaging, sitting very snug in polystyrene to protect it. Upon taking it out of the box the machine was coated in protective plastic to stop scratches. The Pressure King Pro (PKP) came with a steam tray, plastic spoon, measuring cup, aluminium bowl, condensation collector (attached to the machine), recipe booklet and user manual.
Aesthetics and controls.
The PKP is sturdy and relatively heavy in comparison to, say a slow cooker of the same size. It's beautiful aluminium body gives the PKP a premium like feel, which belies its low price tag and the removable power lead makes storage a breeze. The control panel however, does feel a little bumpy, as though it's not quite stuck on right. I assume this is because all but one of the buttons aren't actually buttons. They're in fact "touch sensitive". In other words the plastic on control panel probably touches an electrical contact behind the plastic to start a cooking function, hence the bumpiness. They're extremely sensitive, even your clothes brushing up against them as you're leaning over the cooker can accidentally start or cancel dinner, be wary of this. The only function which is a classic "click" button is the "fast reheat" cooking function in the centre. The control panel does boast however, lovely blue lights on your chosen function and timer display.
Bowl and Lid.
The inner bowl is spacious. However, although it states 5 Litres, that is the maximum capacity of the bowl and not how much food you can fit into it. I would say around 4 Litres of food to the max line, and even that may be too much if the food was of the expanding type. The main lid has a removable inner lid with the ring seal gasket around it, which all detaches for easy cleaning. I wouldn't recommend submerging the main lid in water to clean it. I suspect it will have hollow cavities inside that you might find getting the water out of difficult. A simple wipe with a wet clean cloth and a squirt of Dettol after each use keeps it nice and clean. The inner lid and gasket can be cleaning in warm soapy water. On top of the lid is the steam release valve and float valve.
After seeing a number of comments on various sites, I've spoken to Pressure King Pro
(High Street TV) and they've confirmed that ring seal gaskets and other bits are available to buy, although they're currently out of stock of gaskets at this time. You can pre-order parts by phoning customer services on 0844 800 0631 and 0344 800 0631 for mobiles.
Cooking, pressure, temperature and times.
I've tried a few different foods to test cooking times.
5 frozen chicken drumsticks (steam function) took around 7 minutes to reach pressure (depends on how much water you've placed in the bowl) and 24 minutes to reach a cooked temperature of 75 degrees Celsius. From chilled (steam function) the same amount of chicken drumsticks took around 5 minutes to reach pressure and 14 minutes to reach the same temperature. A stew, consisting of 3 chopped carrots, 1 chopped parsnip, 1 diced onion, 1 diced red onion, one medium diced swede, 90g of pearl barley, 450g of diced braising steak, around 450ml of beef stock and 3 chopped garlic cloves took around 7 minutes to reach pressure and 30 minutes of cooking time. I've not included prep time as each person has different speeds. This is merely a test of machine performance. You can also tweak how much water you need to use, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to fill up to the MIN line. It all depends on what you're cooking. Frozen food and meats will naturally release fluid during cooking, as will most veg. But there's a big difference. Making a stew for example, I would use at least the recommended 480ml of water or stock. You can always thicken up after it's cooked. I made the mistake of using too little fluid during my first attempt and it burned the bottom of the cooking bowl and wouldn't reach pressure. That's because the consistency of the stew's liquid was way too thick when heating and the machine couldn't generate enough steam to reach pressure. The liquid has to be thin when cooking to reach said pressure, so I would be careful when using a packet mix or a cooking sauce jar as these tend to thicken up during cooking - 480ml of think sauce won't generate steam and will burn. Always add more water if your mixture is too thick, I can't stress that enough. It doesn't take long to thicken the sauce up after cooking. When steaming meat or veg, you could easily use 250ml of water as these foods will release their own juices and you will likely end up with more liquid than you started with.
Instruction manual error.
The PKP comes with a user manual and recipe booklet with some exciting meal ideas to try out. However, the user manual section on Programme Settings is completely wrong. It's either written by someone with absolutely no understanding of thermodynamics, or is completely fabricated to make the machine look like it generates more heat than it actually can. It all boils down to the relationship between pressure and temperature, no pun intended. You see, they go hand in hand. When pressure goes up, so does the temperature of the liquid and steam. And vice versa. The user manual is incorrectly stating that pressure cooking temperatures range from 100C to a max of 160C, at a pressure of 0.05 Mega-pascals which is 7.3psi(g) above the atmospheric pressure of 14.7psi (that's the pressure we all feel and live in at sea level), so a total of 22psi(g). I'm sorry, but at gauge pressure of 22psi(g), the MAX possible temperature can only be 112C and no more. However, on the back of the PKP, the manufacturers labels says the machine operates at a maximum pressure of 90 kilopascals or 13psi above atmospheric pressure, so roughly 28psi(g). This would produce a max temperature of 119C which would be correct. I have no idea where the 160C came from at a mere 22psi(g). The pressure would have to be extreme to produce this temperature, at round 105psi(g), which is around 3 times the pressure of my car tyres. The machine would simply explode. I'm sorry if that confused anyone, but I though it better to explain their mistake. So, to summarise, the PKP has a maximum temperature of around 119C and operates at a maximum gauge pressure of roughly 28psi(g), or 13psi above atmospheric pressure. 119C is nothing to be sniffed at, as a hob pressure cooker operates at 30psi(g) and a max temperature of 121C. There's not much difference and you cannot buy a domestic appliance that goes beyond these limits.
There are a few reviews on various websites stating that the included steam tray does not sit flush in the bowl and tips from side to side. This is because the steam tray doesn't sit on the rim at the centre of the bowl, although I admit, it really does look like that's where it goes. It actually sits at the very bottom of the bowl just above the min fill line. It might take a little push to get it past the centre ridge, but I assure you that's where it sits, and it won't rock from side to side down there either. Plus you can get more food in to steam this way too.
Foods not to pressure cook.
The are also a few reviews on various websites that stating that they are inadvertently clogging the steam and float valve with food. Some foods really shouldn't be pressure cooked, these include;
Apple Sauce, Cranberries, Pearl Barley, Oatmeal or other cereals, Split Pea, Noodles, Macaroni, Rhubarb and Spaghetti. These foods can foam, sputter and clog the pressure release and float valves. Small quantities of these in recipes are fine, but if you must use larger quantities, make sure you do a natural steam release. In other words just unplug the machine and leave it alone for ten minutes until the pressure drops naturally. That way the foam from these foods can settle down so it won't block up the valves/vents.
Burning in the bowl.
I hate to nitpick at people, but after reading a few reviews of people complaining about burning their food in the bowl then sending the PKP back in anger, upset me. Pressure cooking is a wet cooking method. Without adequate water in the bowl, you will burn your food. Simply add more water, you can always thicken food up once cooked. Also, be aware that certain foods like pasta and packet mixes may soak up too much liquid and then start to burn during cooking. Always keep an eye on this and used more water if this is case. It's all about trial and error, so don't give up just because you messed up with a recipe. I burnt my food the first time too, but practice makes perfect.
After seeing a couple of people saying that their PKP had exploded, I thought I'd try to put people's minds at ease and explain the safety features of the machine;
1. The main lid is secured to the machine by six solid steel anchor points. A pressure of 13psi above atmospheric pressure, simply wouldn't be enough to breach all that steel.
2. The PKP has an internal thermostat which will cut out if the temperature get too high, thus dropping the pressure.
3. In the unlikely event that the thermostat failed and the pressure rose, the steam release valve would automatically vent the steam and pressure.
4. If, in the unlikely event that the steam release valve also failed, the inner lid and ring steal gasket would lift up inside and vent steam and pressure from the sides of the PKP.
5. The float valve also stops the lid being opened when the machine is under pressure.
I'm not saying that people are lying about certain pressure cookers "exploding", but the only way I can see that possibly happening is by a float valve malfunction mixed with human error. Just say the float valve did malfunction, it would then be technically possible to accidentally open the machine lid when under pressure, although the lid would be really stiff and you would have to put some effort into it - there's your first clue that it's still under pressure. The best thing you can do is to always make sure that the float valve is up during cooking. After cooking make sure that the steam release valve is in the open position, wait for at least a minute for the gust of steam to reduce to a trickle and for the float valve to drop back down again. It's all common sense really.
No electrical equipment is 100 percent safe. Tumble dryers, washing machines and even fridge freezers catch fire all the time in the news and have to be recalled. I would also say that electrical pressure cookers are much, much safer than hob pressure cookers. I wouldn't used one of those myself.
I hope this review helps people decide on this purchase, and I'll keep updating this with new info from time to time.
Thanks for reading.