Having heard the nightmare stories about pressure cookers and their infamous reputation for explosions, you feel worried about opening a jammed pressure cooker. What if it isn’t jammed and simply has contents under pressure?
How to open a jammed pressure cooker? To open a jammed pressure cooker, pour cold water over the pressure cooker. In most cases, that releases the pressure valve to open the lid. If that doesn’t work, take out the pressure valve and put the pressure cooker on the stove. Heat it on high. This releases the jammed lid.
If you’d like to learn more about the jammed pressure cooker lid and how to deal with it, keep reading. We will explain further so that you can resolve the problem faster.
The Science of Cold Water on the Pressure Cooker
Pouring cold water over the top of a pressure cooker may sound counter-intuitive, especially when you account for thermal shock and having the contents under pressure. However, pressure cookers only reach 250 degrees Fahrenheit, much lower than other cooking methods like the frying pan, which reaches 350 degrees.
Steel and aluminum won’t do much with cold water poured over the top of it at that temperature, from a metallurgical perspective. Cooling the lid of the pressure cooker will depressurize it faster than if you cooled it on the bottom because heat rises and will especially be near the top of the container.
The rapid condensation at the lid depressurizes as quickly as 20 seconds. You can safely open the pressure cooker after that. Looking past a jammed lid, the cold water quick-release method works especially well with steamed vegetables.
Warning: Never attempt the cold water release with electric pressure cookers. Water and electricity don’t mix. Also, you shouldn’t submerge an electric pressure cooker in water even with it unplugged because it will ruin your pressure cooker.
Reheat the Pressure Cooker to Release a Jammed Lid
While it may sound counter-intuitive, reheating the pressure cooker can release a jammed lid. This happens because it gets rid of the vacuum on the lid. Before you remove the pressure cooker, check to see that the gauge measures zero.
After the gauge hits zero, remove it and put it in the sink. Pour cold water over the top, but be careful not to cover the vents with water.
Next, press down firmly on the center of the lid. Twist it to break the seal. What happens if the seal still didn’t release? If the seal remains jammed, tap the lid with an object that won’t damage the pressure cooker. The rubber mallet does wonders here. Press down on the lid for a second time to see if it releases.
Reheating the pressure cooker uses the laws of thermodynamics to eliminate the vacuum inside.
In some cases, you may have a damaged gasket. That shows us one of the most common reasons that people can’t open their pressure cookers. Be careful not to twist or play with the gasket because this sensitive piece of pressure cooker gets damaged easily. Don’t let children play with or handle the gasket. Once you damage it, you will know because it leaks. A pressure cooker, that not only presents a danger, but it may not even build enough pressure to cook your foods.
A must-read article about what gaskets are and how they work with pressure cookers – here
What to Check for Safety
Before you attempt to open a pressure cooker, you should stay aware of the pressure in the container. Never try to force open a cooker with pressure inside. At the top of the pressure cooker, look for a valve on the lid.
You should see a tiny metal pin, known as the float valve. When the pressure cooker reaches zero, the float valve will drop. You can’t open the pressure cooker when the float valve is up. While next to impossible to open, it’d be dangerous to try.
To open a jammed pressure cooker, pour cold water over it. In most cases, that releases the pressure valve to open the lid. If that doesn’t work, take out the pressure valve and put the pressure cooker on the stove. Heat it on high. This releases the jammed lid.
Gasket Stuck to the Lid
The gasket around the pressure cooker sees a lot of food. Over time, the gasket may absorb an unpleasant odor and stick to the pressure cooker. You can open a sticky gasket easier than you can a jammed lid, however. Simply twist the lid from one side to the other until it opens.
To prevent the lid from sticking a second time, wash the gasket with soap and water. Don’t use the dishwasher because the harsh chemicals can damage your gasket.
How to Prevent a Sticky Lid
Apply vegetable oil to an older gasket before you use it to prevent it from sticking later. Not only does this prevent sticking, but it also extends the lifetime of your gasket. An old and hard gasket softens up with vegetable oil. The oil lowers the amount of friction between the lid and the gasket, making it easier to open.
Expert Tip: Pay close attention to the instruction manual. While some brands don’t care if you use vegetable oil on them, others may be a problem. Vegetable oil can shorten the life of some gaskets because it reaches temperatures too hot for the gasket. Other times, the oil may damage the gasket outright because it already had a lubricant on them. Check the manual first before you do this.
Don’t worry too much about a jammed lid because you can open it easily enough if you know what to do. Usually, you can resolve this problem without issues. Just make sure that all the pressure has left the container for safety reasons before attempting to open it.
Never try to force open a pressure cooker because you can sustain serious injuries. As long as the pin is down, you should be fine. However, nothing on the other side of the pressure cooker is worth getting injured over.
We also wouldn’t advise that you take a wrench after it to open it. That would be overkill.
What if the Lid Remains Closed?
All of the above should have opened the pressure cooker in most cases. However, if the lid remains firmly shut, the pressure cooker is in the fridge for one hour. Quickly use hot water at the top of the lid to release the jam. The lid expands with the heat, and you should see the grip loosen on the lid. You want to move fast because this will stop once the temperature evens out. Focus the water on the lid rather than the base.
Aluminum especially responds well to hot and cold differences, which makes this a good method for opening a jammed pressure cooker.
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Gasket Damaged in Some Cases
With some pressure cooker jams, you may need to buy a new gasket. They cost anywhere from $8 to $17. Before you do that, check the gasket to see if damage occurred. In most cases, you will see visible damage, such as holes, cracks, or breaks on the gasket. Other signs that you may have a damaged gasket include:
- Pressure cooker leaks
- Signs of wear and tear
- The bottom has a bulge on it
- Doesn’t sit evenly
Wait for the Internal Pressure to Release
You may not have a jammed lid at all. The pressure cooker still has pressure within, which makes it impossible to open. Opening a cooker under pressure can send scalding hot water in every direction. It takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes for the pressure to naturally release.
As the pressure releases, the food continues to cook, which proves advantageous with selections like chili, pork, and ribs.
Some Brands Jam More Than Others
Be careful about the pressure cooker brand that you buy because some will jam more frequently than others. Consider learning the pressure cooker as a type of thing that takes time for you to get good at it. In some cases, you may have to replace one of the components to prevent future jams. Cheaper brands have a higher risk of jamming than the more expensive ones.
Apply Penetrating Oil and Bang It Open
Think of this as a last final ditch effort when everything else failed to open your jammed pressure cooker. We wouldn’t call this a great solution because it can damage your gasket, but when all else failed, this may do the trick. You may have to pay attention to how you clear the lid from the rim. Keep in mind, that you may need to buy a new sealing ring if you damaged it.
Conclusion: How to Open a Jammed Pressure Cooker Lid?
While not the direst of problems, pressure cooker jamming ranks as one of the more common problems. You may encounter it at some point, which makes it useful to know how to respond to it. Using a pressure cooker does have a learning curve, but they’re also relatively simple devices.
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