Why do I still not use a pressure cooker?

It might be because you have heard a horror story about old-fashioned pressure cookers. Trust me pressure cookers today are very different from those outdated aluminum models, and are perfectly safe to use as long as instructions are followed.

I am on a mission to make people around me to think differently about this kitchen equipment that can save both time and money. I know all of us understand the need and importance of green cooking, smart energy saving and cutting our carbon footprint on this beloved planet.

Consider the fact that pressure cooking saves 70% or more energy than conventional methods of cooking. YOU can make a positive difference to the environment and also save considerable cooking time by switching to this method. So, take this small step to help save earth. Watch how easy it is to use one.

I have seen people scared to death with the idea of using a pressure cooker. Often it is the fear of high pressures and accidentally blowing a hole through the kitchen ceiling. For others it may be the sound, which can seem similar to a jet taking off. Or then it might be the geysers of steam shooting out of this contraption that make people uncomfortable .

Despite these seemingly frightening aspects of the pressure cooker, it is an easy to use and effective piece of equipment, and with the right instruction you can definitely get over your “exploding disaster” fears!

Facts about Pressure Cookers:

  1. Modern pressure cookers are all about the safety features, which include a top that locks on securely, a pressure indicator, and a safety pressure release valve.
  2. In terms of steam heat, it is hot, but quickly cools.  It is not as dangerous as cooking something with grease.
  3. Ways of releasing the pressure
    1. Quick release
    2. Running water
    3. Natural release

To get over the fear.

  1. Choose the right model for you. Stove or electric, loud whistle or no whistle.
  2. Read a reliable pressure cooker cookbook that will help you get over some of your safety fears.
  3. Take notes on cooking times, so that you’ll know what to adjust next time.
  4. Take time to get a feel for how it works. Every stove is a little bit different, and every pot is a little bit different, too. There’s a bit of a learning curve. You will soon discover how wonderful it is for cooking things.

What not to do:

  1. Do not add too much liquid -Don’t cook foods that “foam” and don’t fill it more than half way.  Then, don’t worry about it.(the pressure cooker has a very low evaporation rate-about one tablespoon per 10 minutes of cooking vs one cup of evaporation in an uncovered pot). This can be easily fixed by decreasing the cooking liquid significantly. You can even go as low as your cooker’s minimum requirement (which is usually a cup) – check your manual to make sure.
  2. Do not over-cook. The pressure cooker infuses flavours up to a point, after that point the food is over-cooked and the meat becomes tough and tasteless because all of the juices have been squeezed into the cooking liquid – making a delicious stock (if there wasn’t too much water ; )
  3. Do not ignore the manual or do anything they say NOT to do.

Practice by just boiling water until you get the hang of it.  In general, once it starts releasing pressure on its own, just turn it down and “cruise” from there.

Safety features pressure cookers already have

  1. If the top is put wrong – it won’t reach pressure. If you do get it on and do not turn down the heat right away, the valve will release the extra pressure and will activate. If this value is accidentally blocked, a secondary valve (usually a little silicone or rubber stopper) will kick-in. Should THAT fail, the gasket (silicone or rubber circle that seals) will buckle and THAT will release pressure – I have never gotten to that stage but at that point it can get messy and may spray food on your cook top but not the ceiling.
  2. A self-locking handle keeps you from accidentally opening the pressure cooker while the contents are still under pressure.

I hope you consider pressure cooking – not just for the speed but for the flavour, the health benefits and the planet (it’s ridiculous how little energy it needs to operate). I’ll gladly help you navigate the process of getting acquainted with your pressure cooker – just make the decision to buy one!

Meals that can be made in minutes take the pressure off of home cooks who want to make good food but may be pressed for time.

 

How to use a Pressure Cooker?

After the required number of whistles, the stove should be turned off. Once the heat is off, all the steam releases naturally in 5-10 minutes. This is the best way of cooking as it retains all flavours and nutrients. However, steam can also be quick released by using the steam release valve or by gently lifting the whistle (depends on the model of cooker and instructions that came with it). Check out my video to see how steam can be released early before its usual time.

In general, perform these safety checks and you will be good to go:
1. Check to make sure there are no dents or cracks in your pressure cooker or the rubber gasket before using it.
2. There must always be some sort of liquid in your pressure cooker before you close the lid.
3. The pressure cooker should never be more than ⅔ full as there needs to be room for the steam to accumulate.
4. Never try to force open the lid of the pressure cooker when there is steam inside. You can get seriously burnt.
5. Even when it is safe to open the lid, lift the lid away from your face, as the contents will be steaming hot.
6. All pressure cookers have a quick release valve/system. Follow the instructions to make sure you are doing it correctly.

Which Pressure Cooker to buy?

A few quick buying tips:

  1. Go with a spring valve for quieter more efficient operation or finger-tip pressure release that prevents clogging of the steam vent.
  2. You can also go for one with two pressure levels (High and Low) to keep you from pulverizing fish and veggies while you’re infusing them with great flavour
  3. I prefer the black hard anodized stovetop model over the electric one. Particularly because it makes the pressure cooker absorb heat faster making it more energy-efficient. And the pressure cooker stays looking new for years.
  4. Start with a 5-6L (that is the most versatile size) but if you can afford it get a set that uses the same pressure cooking top with a smaller 3-4L pan (for making side dishes, rice for one, pasta sauces, etc).

Are high-end pressure cookers worth the money?

Yes, and no. You get what you pay for and if you pay a lot you get a lot of hard anodized metal, stainless steel, bells & whistles and accessories. This extra metal retains heat like you wouldn’t believe and needs less energy to operate and makes things stick a little less.

No, in the sense that all that extra metal takes a few minutes less to reach pressure. And, as for extra accessories for extra money like a steaming pan,  you might already have it in your kitchen. The end the result is the same: pressure cooked food. Do not let budget get in the way of getting your first pressure cooker!