So, if you inherited a pressure cooker from your mother or picked one up at a yard sale, you need to check that it’s in good working condition.
First check the Owner’s Manual (or go to the brand’s web site and/or contact their customer service people) to determine if there are three safety back-up mechanisms built into the design.
If so, do a test run:
**Pour 2 cups of water into the cooker.
**Lock the lid in place. Bring the cooker up to high pressure.
**If the pressure doesn’t rise or if water drips down the sides, purchase a new gasket directly from the manufacturer, making sure it’s for your specific model. (If the gasket looks like it’s in good shape, try coating it lightly with oil and attempt to bring the cooker up to high pressure again; this technique sometimes revitalizes the sealing effect of an old gasket.)
**It’s also wise to find out how much water the cooker loses while at high pressure: Place 4 cups of water in the cooker and cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. If the cooker loses more than 1 cup of water after 1/2 hour, add 1 additional cup of liquid to the recipe (from the start) for each 1/2 hour that you will be cooking under pressure.