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Old 04-29-2013, 03:06 AM   #1
ontic OP
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Small light-weight pressure cooker for riding and camping

Warning- given recent events, if you want to joke about pressure cookers, take it to JM.
Also if you feel the need to inform us about how little and light you pack, how you can live off freeze dried rations while sleeping in your micro-bivy and using your one pair of underwear wrapped around your boots as a pillow... well, then please don't. This aint the thread. People travel and pack and camp and cook differently.

to the subject matter:
I've been on the lookout for a few years for a good very small light-weight pressure cooker to take when doing extended camping rides.
I really like to cook and cook well and for me there is nothing quite like a true gourmet meal enjoyed around the campfire after a hard day riding...
I particularly love slow cooking of stews, meats and beans and whatnot. On extended rides I have a small but very thorough ingredients kit for this purpose- fresh onion, garlic and ginger, dried spices and herbs of many sorts- basically everything ready to go with the addition of a few bought fresh (bulky heavy) ingredients. Depending on the destination and the duration, I sometimes start with dried beans, frozen meat or stock up and restock on the way. Of course this sort of cooking is kinda difficult with traditional light weight thin camping pots.
I used to be a chef, I know what I like and how much to bring. It doesn't take much weight or space and can make a terrific meal with some simple local bought additions.

At home I sometimes use a pressure cooker rather than a regular slow cooking pot and find it has many advantages for dramatically reduced energy input, cooking time and when done right reduced chance of sticking and burning with little to no effort required to tend it.
It makes sense for moto camping for me, except for the space and weight problem. Most of these cookers are too big/bulky and need to be relatively heavy to deal with the pressure.

Anyway, I've never really come across much that took my fancy. I was originally looking for something between 1-2 litres. 1.5 liter seems the minimum available but I can't find anything I like so far in that size.
For me to justify taking a pressure cooker it would have to multitask and be usable for other things, such as a good water pot and also for a high sided frying pan...
I won't consider raw aluminium, would consider stainless or titanium, and would probably prefer a good hard annodized aluminium for its better heat dispersal to weight ratio (ie smaller chance of spot burning compared to a thin stainless one).
Hawkins has a wide range of different cookers, often going down to 1.5 liters
http://www.hawkinscookers.com/1.1.pressurecooker.html
Some nice little hard annodized ones too. Only thing is I don't like the curved-in lip on top of the pots- makes for more trouble cleaning (IMO) and reduces the multitasking uses.


Tonight I just came across something that looks pretty good to me, the GSI Halulite 2.7 liter pressure cooker.

OK, it is much bigger than I was hoping for but it still has a lot going for it. It is hard annodized aluminium, reasonably compact, is an open pot style thing making the pot alone more useful to me for open cooking and frying and other uses. Although no true liteweight, it if did triple duty for me (pot/kettle, fry pan, pressure cooker) it is not obscenely heavy. You can also bake excellent bread in a pressure cooker and this one would be great for that and for pot roasts also.

If I was to try it it would of course be packed stuffed full of things, and of course I would shape and reduce the rest of my cooking kit around it... but it is still quite large and looks annoying to fit in luggage. Negatives are the size, the weight (around 1.25 KG), for me the double bulky handle rather than a single handle style.
justifying some of this,
With pressure cooking it is much better to not have the pot too full- when it is too full the gasket and pressure vents get food on/through them and the crud gets sprayed out the top, making clean up (which is already a pain camping) more difficult. Although this is way too big for a solo single meal cook up, it would be quite handy for group camping and when I am happy to cook up a single meal to eat for a few meals in a row.
Good meat for slow cooking/pressure cooking is relatively cheap compared to other cuts- and when done right presents remarkably good value when trading around the camp

Anyway, I'd like something like this Halulite 2.7 but ideally a bit smaller (say 1.7 liter would be perfect), and ideally one with a single handle (more easily allowing one to rest the pot beside a fire once it is up to heat to keep it hot) or at least some less bulky handles. Open to suggestions of other alternatives.

as this is the best contender for me so far (though I think too big for me)
here is a little video of a Halulite 2.7 to get a bit of a feel about it
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTsGSHhc5vs
many other videos and reviews on amazon etc about it.

Also any discussion about the merits of pressure cooking is welcome.
Anyone doing it on their bike travels yet?
Cheers,
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ontic screwed with this post 04-29-2013 at 03:17 AM
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Old 04-29-2013, 05:07 AM   #2
Unstable Rider
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Great post, great idea, a slow cooker thread for riders.

I grew up with parents that used the pressure cooker several times a week for slow cooking meals, mostly venison.

I confess I don't own one myself, but I do appreciate the merits of slow cooking as I am a hunter (and can't afford the better cuts of beef these days) so this is interesting, even if I never took the gizmo along on the bike.

The one you have pictured looks like the BMW of pressure cookers compared to the one's I grew up with. Will have to watch the video and read more about that one and check the price and availability, it just sounds interesting to get re-connected with that type of cooking again, and just might eventually pack one on the bike.

I agree, even a pot of slow cooked beans and some onions is about priceless after a long ride, in a remote area where options typically only what you brought with you.

Neat idea, this will be good. I will be lurking nearby.
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Old 04-30-2013, 02:16 AM   #3
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Thanks for the interest Unstable Rider,
yeah there is something special about slow cooked meat, especially those tough cuts that have all the flavour and end up tender and falling to pieces, and I for one love a good bean dish almost as much.

In looking at a few videos I keep coming across people that seem to practice boiling the crap out of their pressure cookers- spewing steam out the vents constantly They do know you don't have to do that don't they?
For me I get mine up to heat to where it starts venting, and then I turn it right down, ideally to the point that it barely offers a tiny little whisper of a vent every few seconds at most. Cooking this way keeps basically the same heat and pressure in the pot but uses a lot less energy, doesn't dry out your dish, and drastically reduces the chance of sticking and burning- and I secretly believe it keeps more flavour in (volatile oils from herbs and spices etc).


anyway,
a few not so obvious ways I've thought that using a pressure cooker could be good.

1. Bread.
a backstory:
A good friend I ride with (Charlie aka 'Brun' here) bakes steamed bread when moto camping. He has a carefully collected kitchen set that achieves this- a large billy type pot with a lid and a smaller pot that fits inside perfectly He packs a precisely measured out loafs worth of bread mix into zip lock bags. He adds an exact measure of water into the bag, kneads it within the bag (so you don't have to get your hands doughy). Then it gets a cycle or two of resting, rising and further kneeding in the bag. Then it gets turned out of the zip lock bag into the smaller (greased) pot, and put in the bigger billy pot with a little water in the bottom. Sat next to the fire it warms and rises (proofs) and then it gets boiled for a while with the lid on. I think I got all that right, and if not maybe he can correct me- but of course the method gets adjusted depending on the temperature the camp is in.
The end result is an excellent loaf of bread, with no caramelised crust like on a normal bake, but perfectly risen and cooked bread where the 'crumb' of the bread is as good as ever and it slices and eats as bread beautifully and/or toasts up perfectly.

Baking bread like this in a pressure cooker is a long proven method (common among cruising bluewater sailors apparantly), is fast and easy, and it seems may even give you a little bit of caramelised edge at times.
here is some pressure cooker bread:

here are a couple of recipe links
http://www.hippressurecooking.com/pr...me-real-bread/
http://healthyfamilycookin.blogspot....re-cooker.html

Personally I would combine my friend Charlies method of zip lock bagged portions of bread mix (or just your choice of flour/grains/yeast etc) and do the clean-hands knead in the bag method. It works brilliantly and is a perfect match for sitting around camp and having a great time doing not much much at all.
And then I would just let it rise and cook it in the pressure cooker in a well fitted light-weight pot inside.
Yes, a cheap loaf of commercial (crap) bread is usually not far away from most camp sites, but that is not really the point for people who like to look after themselves when camping.
The joy of self-sufficiency, even if it is only a brief illusion, is one to be experienced and camp baked bread is a wonderful thing.


2. Another idea is to do food prep at the location of buying...
let me explain that.
You are heading off into the hills to camp for a few days or so away from good supplies. You stop in a town to do shopping to buy your meat and ingredients for a stew- you sit at a nice big comfortable park bench with a bin nearby, peel chop and prep your ingredients and throw them all in the pressure cooker, throw all the waste into the bin, seal and stow the pressure cooker, get on the road. This can all be pretty well organised and planned, you have a litte bag of herbs/spices etc ready to dump in, the rest is fresh and bought, etc.
When you stop to camp, first thing you do is set your cooker on a simmer (maybe after adding a splash of wine or water etc), put the pressure cooker on, then get about setting up camp. By the time your tent and bed and everything is up and everything is ready, you have a fresh cooked wonderful hot dinner of soft stewed meat and veges waiting... you also don't have a pile of onion and garlic skins, vegetable stumps, meat offcuts and plastic bags to bulk and stink up your rubbish.
This theme could be varied.
Why bother some ask? Well, many camp sites don't have bins and lugging stinky rubbish gets old quick and food waste often attracts unwelcome animals. Also, many camps don't have nice big park benches or cover to easily sit and prep food on, you might arrive in the dark, the rain, etc. Not all of us pack kitchen tables to prep on. Also, when you are stopped for shopping you are stopped already, gloves and helmet and gear are off, etc, we all know how long getting the kit on and off can take and how it is worth try to do as much as you can at stops. When you arrive at camp you might be too knackered to much at all...

3. Lastly, pressure cookers are wonderful sealers of food. You clamp that lid down and there aint many animals or insect that is going to get in. Also, if you clamp the lid down, and then you bring it up to venting heat and let it cool without opening the lid again, the food inside is pretty much sterilised and will last a lot longer without refrigeration (my home pressure cooker is in vaccume in this situation). Not quite as good as canning/jarring, and the effect is voided once you open it up again (until you cook it again), but for that one pot meal that lasts you a couple of days of meals, it could be very handy.


Thats it for the moment,
I still like the look of the Halulite, and it still looks a bit big
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Old 04-30-2013, 02:30 AM   #4
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http://www.homeshop18.com/prestige-n...948/cid:14863/
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Old 04-30-2013, 04:06 AM   #5
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great thread, I also enjoy eating REAL food while camping and am always looking for new ideas and equipment.
some of those cookers look good, but I think the real problem is the handle, wonder if it's possible to modify to get rid of the huge handle, and replace the handle and lid clamps with something much smaller, and then simply fabricate a removable handle, or just use your gloves when you need to touch the thing.
also, what type of stove are you using? I always have trouble with camping stoves and low heat, I usually just cook over a fire if I need low and slow. even the stoves that are said to simmer don't really do it.
I like the fresh bread idea, nothing better than fresh bread!!!
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Old 04-30-2013, 04:55 AM   #6
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I use one of the available bag sealer things for big game, one that sucks all the air out of the heavy sided plastic bag and then puts a hot seal on it before freezing. Keeps venison forever, but usually it gets eaten fairly quickly in any regard.

I could see grabbing a bag of frozen venny chunks and tossing it on the bike to use with some veggies like you describe. The frozen meat would stay cold enough rolled in a towel and stuffed deep in a pannier, and the bags never leak. Would certainly be fine for the first night's big dinner somewhere remote.

I get what you are saying about the mess and "discards" from preparing food while in the bush.

One of the areas I enjoy spending time in quite popular with bears as well.



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Old 04-30-2013, 06:15 AM   #7
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Thanks advNZer,
that one looks similar to some of the Hawkins ones I linked to
http://www.hawkinscookers.com/1.1.pressurecooker.html
personally I don't want a raw aluminium one, and I don't like the curved in lip on top of the pot- reduces the multitasking use of the pot for me.

Bikerfish,
yeah I was thinking something similar for that Halulite cooker if I can't find something better- but of course modifying a pressure cooker has to be a kinda risky prospect... boom!

At least with the Halulite 2.7 model, while the handles obviously form some part of the locking mechanism, the tabs on the lid and the pot actually hold the thing together so a catastrophic failure might be less likely.
You can see how the handles form part of the locking mechanism if you can sit through this video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H5jquyZRwo

If I was going to go down the modifying path I would like some very small simple handles on the sides- preferably fire proof ones, probably just some aluminium. Just enough grip to open and close the pot- then maybe some sort of edge where you could clamp on one of these sort of traditional camping pot handles


I'd probably have to have one in my hands to come up with a solution to the big handles... it would be nice to just buy something ready to go though without having to go down the modifying path.

For my stove I use a Svea123, runs best on white fuel but runs fine on gasonline as well. I can hot fry a steak on high and can maintain a good low simmer on the lowest setting- that is the range that I am interested in. The low simmer is one of the many things I love about that little stove, and I think it would be brilliant to use with a small pressure cooker.

Unstable Rider,
yeah, in places we've got annoying animals that will tear through your stuff and your tent if you leave food stuff around, but less that will tear you limb from limb like bears

Cheers,
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Old 04-30-2013, 08:11 AM   #8
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Pressure cookers sales are now on the watch list.
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Old 04-30-2013, 07:55 PM   #9
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Great thread, Hans. I look forward to sampling some gourmet delights from your carefully considered choice.

I'll throw in some thoughts. Looking at the Hawkins Contura series, the two smaller ones are worth a further appraisal.



I wouldn't be too concerned about the lip (re cleaning and use as frying pan or wok), and having a long handle on one side is (to my mind) far more useful - you can sit it on some coals beside the fire. The 1.5 litre one is very compact but possibly too small a volume. The 2 litre one would still fit comfortably in a pannier, and at 230mm diameter would make a decent frying pan / wok. It would definitely be more useful for breadmaking and as a hot water service. And at 1325 Rupees (Oz$24 + shipping) it shouldn't cost much to find out how useful it would be.
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:07 AM   #10
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Gday Charlie,
glad you dropped in. I tried mining boxerworks for some images of your steamed bread but it seemed to be having problems at the time.
Please feel free to post up any pics and proper details of your wonderful bread method.

Yeah, you might be right about the lip on the Hawkins cookers, maybe they wouldn't be as awkward as I am imagining. They would of course limit the bread tin to the smallest diameter of the oval opening of the pot, but that might still be OK.
Watching some videos on the Hawkins I do really like the simple (and time tested) method of how the lid works.
I do definitely prefer the single long handle and agree it would be just the thing for sitting it on some coals by the fire.

I also don't actually mind the Hawkins Futura model but it is quite a bit heavier than the hard annodized contura of equal size... that one seems to be the pick so far- hard annodized, light weight stainless lid, long handle, pretty light weight overall...

the contura on amazon is a nice price
http://www.amazon.com/Hawkins-Contur...awkins+2+liter
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Old 05-01-2013, 04:55 PM   #11
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Hans, your description of my bread making system is spot-on. Boxerworks is back online, but the 'bread thread' pre-dates the last complete crash in 2010.

I found some of the pics from that thread. The kit ...



The big ziplok bag contains half of the quantity of bread mix that I use in the bread machine at home. Little ziplok has the dry yeast. Folded metal strap goes into the big billy to keep the little billy above the boiling water. Little plastic container is marked for water volume, and other volumes for rice, etc. The resulting bread ...



The slice in front has been toasted, too-much buttered and scraped with a little Vegemite (sorry 'mericans, I know you don't understand why we do it). Bloody delicious. The bread machine premixes I use are Laucke brand (Australian), multigrain and german grain varieties, combined to make a medium density bread full of grainy goodness.

Ok, so now I am very interested in trying bread making in a pressure cooker. Being able to get that higher temperature will make a significant difference to the bread. Wikipedia tells me that temps of boiling water can reach 121C, and at that temp a caramellised crust should be possible. Yum.

That price for the 2L Contura from Amazon is very tempting. Bad news for the poor battered credit card, but the thought of future campsite pleasure - stews and curries and hot buttery toast, etc, are working on me. Being able to extend a meal to the next day, safely sealed in the pot definitely appeals, too.
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:29 PM   #12
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This one ain't made of aluminium (so heavier) but you could like the form factor.

http://www.amazon.com/Prestige-Delux...2+quart+presto


Wait...it is also available in aluminium.

http://www.amazon.com/Prestige-Popul...ressure+cooker
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:06 PM   #13
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Thanks for the pics Charlie, I love that bread and I can't wait to see how it goes in a pressure cooker- I just got lost down a rabit hole for a while trying to read about caremelisation and maillard tempertatures and whatnot...
maybe a spoonful of fructose that caramelises at 110C might work well.

Just for reference, and because I am familiar with those pots and their uses, do you know what volume your big billy and the 'hot water service' is?

SgtDuster,
that started to look good- especially when I found they do a hard annodized version
such as this 2.5 liter one
http://www.amazon.com/Prestige-Delux...pd_sim_sbs_k_6

then I tried to find what pressure the Prestige go up to as 15psi seems to be the magic number for pressure cooking... discussion here
http://www.cookingissues.com/2011/08...ssure-cookers/

seems like prestige cookers are a low PSI pressure cooker...
http://missvickie.com/workshop/buying.html

and I think the Halulite one I linked to earlier is also a bit low at 12.5-ish.

The hawkins at the standard 15psi still seems to be a winner so far. I just wish there was a good straight up sides version.

Great discussion, thanks fellas
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SgtDuster View Post
This one ain't made of aluminium (so heavier) but you could like the form factor.

http://www.amazon.com/Prestige-Delux...2+quart+presto


Wait...it is also available in aluminium.

http://www.amazon.com/Prestige-Popul...ressure+cooker
Thanks for that Sarge. The stainless one definitely appeals. Shipping weight is given as 4 pounds (= 1.8 Kgs). If the handles are removable it could be quite a compact unit.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:42 AM   #15
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Ontic, you would know better than me, but could one of these be used as a pressure cooker?

It's pretty well sealed, it is VERY tight when latched closed. Liquids and steams might seep out if I tried to boil water, but not much.

They're cheap and indestructible.


http://www.backcountry.com/msr-alpine-stowaway-pots




Maybe I'll look up a pressure cooker recipe and try it myself and see what happens.
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