Pressure Cookers Are Back, and Safer than Ever

October 19, 2015  
Filed under Blogs

W92160-6qt-Pressure-Cooker_largeOctober 19, 2015

BY MARY HUNT

Pressure cookers, those big monster pots we recall from childhood, are making a big comeback, and bringing good news with them: They are not the spitting, noisy steam generators they once were. Modern improvements have made pressure cookers as safe and easy to use as slow cookers, but with decided advantages.

To understand what a pressure cooker is, think of a pot that you use on the stovetop that has a locking lid. When the liquid inside boils, it is trapped. The steam that is generated builds up pressure, creating a higher cooking temperature and shorter cooking time. The pressure is measured in PSI (pounds of force per square inch), a term you’ll find in pressure-cooker recipes.

Pressure cookers have a gasket or rubber ring that creates a seal, which, for safety reasons, is essential. Newer models are huge improvements over old models from yesteryear — they have safety valves that automatically release pressure if it builds too high, and safety lids that are impossible to open until the pressure has reduced.

Cooking with a pressure cooker has so many advantages that you might wonder how you ever lived without one once you give it a try.

NUTRITION. Because food is cooked in less liquid for a shorter amount of time, more vitamins and minerals are retained than in traditional or slow cooking.

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE. Because food that is pressure cooked becomes done so quickly, you will notice increased flavor and better texture in everything from steamed vegetables to potatoes, chicken and all types of meats. That’s not always the case with food that’s been in a slow cooker for six to eight hours.

TIME. Food cooks up to 70 percent faster under pressure. That means what normally would take one hour will be done in about 20 minutes. And pasta or rice that normally take 15 minutes to cook? They’ll be done in five minutes. You can get home from work, place the ingredients in the pressure cooker and have the meal done in just a few minutes, which is probably as long as it takes to set the table and tidy the kitchen.

ENERGY. Quick cooking means you will use a lot less energy. Even at a high temperature, you won’t heat the house during the summer because of the short period of time your cooker will be turned on. By saving 70 percent of the gas or electricity normally used in conventional cooking, the pressure cooker can pay for itself in just months.

CLEANER. When everything is trapped inside the pressure cooker, you won’t experience anything boiling over or splattering all over the stove. That makes cleaning a cinch.

BUYING A PRESSURE COOKER. Different models have varying features, but generally you want to get a pressure cooker in a size that will fit your storage area and family size. Pressure cookers come in sizes from 2-quart to 21-quart. Large cookers are typically used for home canning.

I have the Kuhn Rikon Duromatic 5-quart model, which is often referred to as the Mercedes of pressure cookers. I’ve found that it is called that for a reason, because it really is a lovely thing. Time has ceased to be much of a consideration when I prepare dinner in my pressure cooker. I can fix perfectly cooked artichokes in just a few minutes and ditto for a roast, chicken, potatoes, beans, rice — you name it and I’ll bet I’ve cooked it under pressure.

There are many other models of excellent pressure cookers with great reviews. They range in price from as low as $50 to as high to $400 or more.

If you have an older model pressure cooker or one you picked up used or inherited, make sure you have all of the parts and that they are working well. For safety reasons, this is very important. Check the manufacturer’s website to get the user manual for your particular model if that is missing. Also, consider replacing the rubber ring or gasket as these can become cracked and brittle with time.

Finally, use recipes designed for pressure cookers when you get started, until you feel confident in adapting traditional recipes. America’s Test Kitchen has a great pressure cookbook, You’ll find the most comprehensive information on cooking under pressure, including recipes, how-to guides, resources and forums, at HipPressureCooking.com and MissVickie.com — websites devoted to all things pressure cooking.

For more information about the products mentioned above please visit www.everydaycheapskate.com/cookwithpressure.

COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

 

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