1. Base. The base of a pressure cooker is typically made from aluminum, which is known to be a very good heat conductor. Generally speaking, the thicker the base the better. Thick bases will allow the pot to reach pressure quicker and are good at maintaining pressure, cooking food more steadily.
2. Body. Like many other pots and pans, the body of a pressure cooker is typically made from stainless steel or aluminum. You could very well use it as a normal cooking pot. If price isn’t an issue, pay more for a stainless steel model which are more durable than aluminum.
3. Secondary handle. This handle is positioned opposite of the primary handle to help with moving a heavy pot.
4. Lid. Pressure cooker lids lock tightly to the pot and have an airtight seal to prevent and steam from escaping.
5. Pressure regulating/steam release valve. This is where you can set your desired pressure to (usually) one of two pressure levels before you bring the pot up to pressure. It’s also where the excess pressure gets released.
6. Pressure indicator. The pressure indicator, which is commonly a pin or button that rises as pressure builds up, tells you when the desired pressure level has been reached. If your pressure cooker model doesn’t allow you to set the desired pressure level, the indicator should have two rings indicating low and high pressure that you can monitor. For specific instructions on how to read your cooker, please refer to your manual before first use.
7. Lock indicator. Certain models have a button that you have to slide in place to ensure your lid is properly closed and locked. There might also be a color indicator to tell you if the lid is locked.
8. Primary handle. Most pressure cookers feature a two-piece handle that is supposed to align when the lid is properly locked in place. The handle is where you find many of the key components to operating the pressure cooker too.