This is very significant and you might miss the importance of this if not pointed out explicitly: because steam doesnt need to be released as a way to maintain constant pressure/temperature, whatever liquid or moisture you initially added or is in the food itself can never boil away (i.e., escape as steam, as in the stovetop cooker or pots and pans). It can thus never run dry and all the moisture stays in the pot, and in the food, the whole time.
Pressure completely irrelevant!
The fact that the XL works by controlling the TEMPERATURE (228° for cooking, 241° for canning), rather than monitoring the relative PRESSURE (which will vary depending on your elevation), means that the actual external atmospheric pressure at your elevation is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT! The XLs internal pressure must always be the same to achieve the 228°/241° internal temperatures...and this is done AUTOMATICALLY without any effort or attention on your part!
The best, simplest, safest canner!
This is ESPECIALLY SIGNIFICANT for CANNING. The USDA states that you must exceed 240° to meet safety standards for canning low-acid foods.
With the familiar traditional stovetop canner, ensuring that you reach this 240° safe temperature requires you to compensate for higher elevations by calculating the relative pressure reading that must be achieved by your canners gauge compared to its sea-level reading.
With the XL, this strict attention to pressure, and the manual calculation to compensate for elevation, is completely unnecessary, since it maintains this critical safe canning temperature directly. You dont really even need to know what the actual pressure isnot internal, external or relative!
If you plan to regularly do a lot of canning, its good to know that the 10-quart model holds 7 pint-size canning jars and the 6-quart model holds 4 jars.
Consistent results elevation independent
With my stovetop Presto cooker, the regulator weight (which maintains the relative internal-external pressure difference) is fixed so the internal pressureand therefore temperaturewill consequently be lower at higher elevations, requiring longer cooking times to compensate. How much longer is something I wouldnt even know how to calculate.
In contrast, whatever XL cooking or canning recipes are a success for you, wherever you are, will work absolutely identically for anyone else using an XL at ANY elevation: from -1,410 ft. at the Dead Sea, 5,280 ft. in Denver, or even at 16,700 ft. in La Rinconada, Peru. You can thus very confidently share your successes with your friends anywhere!
Finally, a rarely (or never) mentioned safety feature of the XL is that the exterior never gets dangerously hot, as would a stovetop cooker (or your ordinary pots and pans, for that matter). It also doesnt release scalding hot steam at any time while cooking and the lid cannot be removed until you deliberately release the pressure after cooking is done. Therefore it can be safely placed practically anywhere during (or after) cooking, even if youre concerned about children or pets nearby. It also doesnt need to be close to your stove or oven to do its work and you dont have to use potholders or towels to move it around.
By the way, if I want to release the pressure immediately after cooking is completed, rather than having to put my old Presto stovetop under cold running water in the sink, I simply slide the release button on the lid of my XL Pro (with the regular model, I believe you rotate it). But because the exterior never gets hot, the power cord detaches from the unit, and the handles remain cool to make it safe and easy to carry, Ive found that I can very conveniently take it out to the balcony or porch and release the steam outdoors rather than using the noisy vent fan on my stovetop hood to prevent steaming up the underside of my cabinets or the entire kitchen for that matter!
Is there a disadvantage to using a pressure cooker? Yes, the most obvious is that you cant periodically peek at your food to see how its doing in progress, so the only control you have is the cooking time. Therefore, Ive found it important to keep good notes so I can adjust the timing next time, if necessary, until I get perfect results and then be able to replicate my successes every time thereafter.
The XL has preset buttons to get your timing quite usefully close the first time (e.g., Soup/Stew, Rice/Risotto, Beans/Lentils, Fish/Veg./Steam, Chicken/Meat, Canning/Preserving) and a Time Adjustment button for fine-tuning for the next time if you need to. Also, each preset sets 3 different times, depending on how many times (1-3) you press its button. For example, the Chicken/Meat button will give you 15, 40 or 60 minutes, so its easy and convenient to set any time you wish from 2 minutes to 2 hours (12 hours for slow cooking)
There is also a Slow Cook mode button so if, for some reason, you dont want to use it as a pressure cooker, you can instead follow a recipe for a slow cooker without having to buy (or find a place to store) one.
Additionally, theres a Delay Timer so you can choose when cooking should start and thus have your food hot and ready to eat just when you want.
Broiling & Searing
Although the XL allows you to sear your food (especially meats) for added flavor conveniently in the same pot, usually before pressure cooking, I personally find it better to sear on the stovetop (so that I can then make use of the fond to create, by deglazing, a tasty gravy or sauce, if I wish), or I can put it afterwards under a broiler or in a hot pan, following slightly XL undercooking, to develop a tasty exterior (e.g., BBQ or Malliard-reaction browning) complementing a very tender interior from pressure cooking. Not necessarily limiting myself to one pot start-to-finish is more in keeping with how gourmet cooking is usually done; we dont expect to dump all the ingredients at once into a vessel and then end up, after a set single cooking time, with a perfect dish. Having to follow more than one cooking step isnt considered unusually inconvenient.
All in all, though, over the years, Ive only become increasingly impressed and appreciative of its usefulness, function, convenience and ultimate value...and no, I dont work for the company but have simply become a loyal longtime fan through regular and reliable use.
[These comments have been expanded since their original posting on Bright Reviews.]
Really Love This Product
Dec 7, 2015 | Len | Henrico, VA
We have made chili, lasagna, mac and cheese and buffalo wings. All were delicious and the product worked perfectly. Two things: I read comments that say the Power Pro XL can take up to 17 minutes to build up pressure. Thats true, but typically we find it taking more in the 10-12 minute range. Either way, I dont see that as a big deal as the machine will start cooking when the pressure is right then switch to warming once the food is cooked. I dont have to sit and watch it. Secondly, I read all the issues people have with the company and their lack of customer service. That bothered me, so we bought ours and later a second for a gift from Amazon Prime. I felt safer going that route. Bottom line, read and follow the directions, have reasonable expectations and you should love the Power Pro XL.
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
Dec 9, 2015 | Frank | San Francisco
I came to the very same conclusion myself: since I dont have to babysit anything at all, the times involved become irrelevant.
As with ALL pressure cookers, the stated cooking time for the Power Pressure Cooker XL begins only once full pressure is reached, which varies considerably depending on how long it takes to bring the enclosed liquid to a BOIL to begin to produce STEAM to the required pressure. Obviously, bringing 4 plus quarts (16 plus cups) of liquid to a boil takes much, much longer than 1 cup (the minimum required) and this preheat time isnt predictable nor can it be quoted as a fixed figure or guaranteed for every possible situation beforehand...especially if you dump in a big batch of frozen food!
Some, as mentioned above, have complained that the impressively short cooking times quoted in infomercials or cookbooks are misleading because they dont take into account the preheat time to get up to pressure.
However, to be completely fair, dont we all tend to completely ignore the time (and attention) to preheat an oven to 350° or 450°, preheat a pot, pan or Dutch oven to begin a saute, poach, braise or bake, bring water to a boil to steam vegetables or start a soup or stew, or get a BBQ (gas, electric, stovetop and especially charcoal) ready to actually begin cooking? A microwave, countertop IR/convection oven or gas broiler are the only appliances that come to mind that begin cooking (and thus timing) right away.
Besides, with traditional fine cooking, youre actively attending to the many steps required of each dish to ensure a perfect desired final result, no matter how complicated or time-consuming the preparation and execution may be (which may become all the more apparent when the steps are written down in detail in a recipe). Yet, no one seems to complain about hovering over the stove or oven for a significant time (it might surprise you if you actually keep track of the time, effort and attention spent).
For example, think of a dish that requires cutting up ingredients in a particular way, using the stovetop to cook them in a specific sequence, heat and timing before then putting them in the oven (e.g., using a Dutch oven or roasting pan) to roast for 45 minutes. We may count the 45 minutes but ignore the significant time and effort it took to get there.
After all, when you think about it, the time it takes to bring 4 quarts of liquid to a boil in a pot on your stovetop isnt going to be much different than in the XL so why single out the XL as being somehow uniquely misleading about preheat/preparation time?
Short cook times, superior results
Since the cook times are so short once pressure is reached, even if you factored in the preheat time, youll still probably be ahead of the gameperhaps even by hours! Besides, for me, the main benefit isnt a shorter cooking time but the tasty, moist and tender quality of the results.
Attention not required
With my stovetop cooker (Presto), I stood patiently by, carefully waiting for the pressure regulator to begin slowly rocking, started the timing manually with an external timer or by checking my clock and writing down the time so I wouldnt forget, fiddled around with the heat (luckily, I have a gas range; its much trickier with an electric stove since you cant instantly change burner heat) to maintain the pressure during the required cook time, then either allowed the pressure to drop slowly on its own or cooled the pot quickly under cold running water in the sink, depending on the suggested recipe.
Unlike the XL, since my stove (and oven) dont have a timer to turn themselves off automatically, for safety, I have to be very careful to keep reminding myself not to become distracted until cooking is done.
Unexpectedly and shockingly quiet
Since becoming comfortable with using the XL, I can directly contrast it with the stovetop Presto. The XL is UNEXPECTEDLY and SHOCKINGLY QUIET! Theres no hissing of escaping steam, no noisy rocking regulator. No more fiddling around with the flame to get just the right heat to maintain the right pressure or manually timing the cooking, then, if called for by the recipe, pulling the cooker off to cool it immediately under cold running water in the sink, or letting it cool down on its own until the pressure drops enough to open the lid...you have to keep checking. The timing, by the way, has to be externally determined, since nothing on the stovetop cooker itself gives you any guidelines at allyou must refer to the included very basic cookbook, or numerous other online pressure cookbooks/recipes, for times to even begin experimenting.
However, despite my retrospective criticism of the Presto here, which I purchased primarily because it was relatively inexpensive, my experience with it did manage to convince me of the benefits of pressure cooking in general, which led me to then look at the XL for its additional convenience, safety and simplicity.
Temperature controlled automatically
In contrast, the XL monitors and maintains the pressure (actually, more accurately and importantly, the 228° TEMPERATURE) AUTOMATICALLY, by thermostatically controlling the heating element ELECTRONICALLY without any attention on your part. Therefore, it can never dangerously overheatnor, in fact, even underheat (thereby becoming less effective and changing the cook time)and doesnt need to continuously release excess steam in order to maintain constant pressure/temperature. The only sound you hear, if youre close enough, is the click of the heating element turning on and off.