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I just got a Presto 6qt. Pressure Cooker. Its manual states that I shouldn't cook split peas in it; does that include split mung beans or dal, or does it refer only to "green peas?"

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Split beans and peas are tricky to pressure cook and you should not be attempting this if you're new to pressure cooking. That's because you first need to learn how to regulate heat so that it's not too high at the beginning (which will shoot the beans through the vent, muck it up, and cause a dangerous situation) and during pressure cooking. Any over-pressure situation will be dangerous.

Learn to use your pressure cooker very well first, and then if you'd like to attempt this follow these precautions:

  • Ensure the gasket and valves of your pressure cooker are good working order.
  • NEVER fill the pressure cooker more than half-full with split peas and their cooking liquid.
  • Use at least a tablespoon of fat.
  • ALWAYS release pressure using ONLY Natural Release (do not use the valve, don’t use cold-water quick, don’t use base immersion).
  • Clean the lid and pressure valves thoroughly after pressure cooking
  • Supervise the rise to pressure closely to make sure the cooker does not go into over-pressure. Please note that since the booklet advises against it, should you pressure cooker be damaged or you be injured attempting to do this, the manufacturer is not responsible.

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The recommendation has nothing to do with the type of pulse, but is a safety issue.

Any type of food that is prone to foaming and has a decent amount of soluble starch or protein should not be cooked in a pressure cooker or (as other manuals state) the pot should be filled to less than half its normal capacity.

The reason is simple: small food particles can be carried up with the steam and deposited in the vent system. This may block the safety valve, posing a real danger of the pot "exploding" or the valve triggering suddenly and too late. In the best case you will be deep cleaning your kitchen, but in the worst case hot steam and food can cause serious harm to the cook or bystanders.

So yes, you can cook pulses in a pressure cooker (isn't the shorted cooking time the reason we got it in the first place?), but proceed with care, know your ingredients and don't overfill.

  • My mom had this happen to her many many years ago. After the steam vent clogged, then the safety on the pressure cooker blew spewing split pea soup all over the kitchen. Thankfully she wasn't near the pot when it blew or she would have been doused with boiling split pea soup. So the risk isn't just theoretical - it has been experimentally verified. – MaxW Apr 9 '16 at 17:02
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    @MaxW, verified here too... – Stephie Apr 9 '16 at 17:05

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