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Volume II
August 31, 2004

High Altitude under Pressure

Just read your article on Pressure Cooking and have a thought or two. I have lived and Pressure Cooked at 7500 to 8500 (and above) foot elevations for over 30 years.

I think your article is a little misleading on high altitudes. It doesn't take longer for water to boil. It actually boils at a lower temperature (202°F at my house) and sooner. It does, however, take longer to cook at that lower temperature and a little longer to reach 15 pounds per square inch of pressure. If the directions try to give total time, from cold burner to finished cooking, then you might have to cook a little longer. If, as my books say, your directions start timing from a slow or fast rock of the weight, then the cooking time will be exactly the same. Once the pot reaches 15 lbs, it no longer matters what your altitude is, because your food is now cooking as if you were way below sea level. If I increased my cooking times, from when pressure is reached, it would overcook my foods.

I'll leave it to your experts as to whether this distinction merits any attention or not. If I haven't explained this clearly, feel free to call and chat. Love your newsletter.


Paula Murray

(I think Paula is right on here! I'm afraid all of the pressure-cooking literature out there specifies an increase in time for pressure cooking at high altitudes, but what Paula says makes more sense. Even though it will take longer for the cooker to come to full pressure at higher altitudes, there is no need to adjust the time on recipes since pressure cooker recipes mostly specify cooking time from the point pressure is reached. Thanks for correcting me, Paula! -Desi @ DVO)

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