When you see red, this tells you that the handle and lid aren't engaged and that the pot will not pressurize.
Item: Fissler Vitaquick Pressure Cooker, 8.5qt
Overall Impression: This is it — the pot that has won me over to the safety, ease, and utility of pressure cooking!
As a newbie to pressure cooking, I did a lot of research before requesting the Fissler Vitaquick 8.5 quart model for review. I wanted a pressure cooker that was safe, simple to use, and could take on larger tasks such as cooking a whole pound of beans or making several quarts of stock. The 8.5 quart Fissler Vitaquick kept coming up as the pot I needed in order to meet my needs, so I took the plunge. Quite a few pounds of beans and chicken scraps layer, I can reliably add my wholehearted recommendation to the list. This pressure cooker is a winner!
Characteristics and Specs: At 8.5 quarts and measuring at 10.2", this is the second largest of the Fissler Vitaquick line of pressure cookers. It is made with heavy gauge 18/10 stainless steal, with a shiny mirror finish. The base is wide and even with the pot, and has a heat-conducting aluminum core. This is important for even heating and durability: a pressure cooker must be able to take a high flame without warping.
The handles are made of quality plastic and have a nice feel. They close with an audible click that activates a color-coded indicator, so you can rest assured that the lid has been properly and securely locked in place. The pressure is indicated by a banded rod that rises as the pressure rises. When one white ring is visible, it is at low pressure, when the second band appears it is at high pressure. It was easy to spot the bands from across my kitchen, which I appreciated.
With its mirror finish, matte black plastic handles, and bright blue accents, the Fissler is an attractive pot, too.
Safety Features: The Fissler Vitaquick comes with several safety features that keep the pot from over-pressurizing and exploding, a problem which would occasionally happen with old-fashioned models. Besides the click and color-coded handle mentioned above, the cooker has a pressure valve which will only engage if the handle is properly locked, allowing the pressure to safely build and preventing the lid from being accidentally opened. The handle will not unlock until the pot has properly depressurized.
The pressure valve will automatically release excess pressure in order to maintain a safe level at all times, but you can depressurize the cooker manually by pressing on valves located on the sides of the handle. Finally, the pot is marked on the inside with minimum and maximum fill marks to prevent under or overfilling.
Favorite details: I love the sturdy, well-made construction and the satisfying way the lid clicks into place. Additionally, I appreciate the quick-release levers which allow quick, manual release of the built up pressure without having to run cold water over the top of the cooker.
Potential problems: This is a heavy pot — and I mean heavy — on its own. (Which, when you think about it, is really good: flimsy in not the word you would want associated with your pressure cooker!) When filled, it is super heavy, so keep that in mind. There is a helper handle on the opposite side of the locking handle, so the cooker can be lifted with two hands which makes lifting the pot a lot easier.
Splurge-worthy? The Fissler is not the most expensive pressure cooker out there, but it's not the cheapest either. However, when it comes to an appliance such as this, you do not want to skimp on quality. You want something that is well made and reliable and, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. So yes, I would say this is a splurge-worthy item.
Additionally, when you factor in how much money you can save purchasing dried beans and using up chicken scraps for making your own beans and stocks, and the fact that cheaper cuts of meat are perfect for the pressure cooker, it's easy to see that it will eventually pay for itself.
Good for small kitchens? There's no way around the fact that an 8.5 quart pot has a big footprint. If you think you would use this pot frequently, then it's worth a spot in your cupboard. Think of all the room you'll save from not stocking cans of beans and cartons of broth! If you don't think you'll use it every week, you can always store it a little deeper in the cupboard or in your garage if you have one.
Cleanup is easy, too, and if you happen to have a dishwasher, the Vitaquick is dishwasher safe. The only maintenance is to replace the rubber gasket on occasion, which is standard with any pressure cooker. The cooker comes with a steamer insert and tripod for steaming (I haven't tried this feature yet) as well as a comprehensive users manual and a spiral-bound cookbook. You can purchase a clear glass lid, which simply turns the pressure cooker into a regular pot, increasing its utility.
Using the Fissler Vitaquick has made a pressure cooker convert out of me! I love having a freezer full of delicious chicken stock that was made in less than an hour (and not to mention superior to my usual back-of-the stove method stock due to the fact that the higher temperature really sucks the flavor and gelatin from the bones). And I love quickly cooking dried beans (without soaking!) and grains like farro in less than 1/2 hour. Think of it: quick cooking, healthy ingredients for less money and no excess packaging. Win-win-win!
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Dana Velden)