Pressure cooking is not the most common method of cooking, but it has many benefits. It shortens the cooking time, tenderises tough cuts of meat and retains more nutrients than most other cooking methods. The most important aspect of pressure cooking is safety. Use a pressure cooker that has been tested for gauge accuracy and pressure strength. Make sure all parts are in good working order. Several parts may need to be replaced at some point. They are easy to replace at home and the parts are easy to find. Replacement parts are available online from the Presto company, or at hardware or kitchen stores.
Rubber Seal or Gasket
This is one of the most common parts to replace. The rubber seal or gasket keeps the air in the pressure cooker, allowing it to build the pressure necessary for the cooker to reach the temperature required for pressure cooking. Replace this part when it is cracked, brittle, soft or sticky. If in doubt, press your thumbnail into the rubber. If it leaves an indentation, replace the gasket. It's fairly inexpensive and will help maintain your pressure cooker's efficiency. Remove the seal and clean it with warm, soapy water after each use.
Over pressure Plug or Device
If this device is cracked or brittle, or shows any sign of wear, replace it. Newer pressure cookers have this safety device, but older ones don't. If the pressure in the cooker gets too high, it will blow this out to let the steam out--a better alternative than the pressure cooker exploding. Keep the plug clean and functional to help maintain the safety of your pressure cooker. The plugs are easy to find and replace.
These weighted metal parts sit on top of the steam vent and allow the pressure to build. They require little maintenance, but may need to be replaced because they are small and easy to misplace. On many Presto pressure cookers, you can replace the weighted regulator that indicates 15lbs. of pressure with regulators that will maintain the pressure at 5, 10 or 15lbs. Newer pressure regulators are spring valves. If the spring valve does not move up and down smoothly, and taking it apart and cleaning it doesn't help, replace it.