Pressure cookers work by trapping a large amount of steam inside a pot with a locked lid. This allows temperatures inside the cooker to reach levels as high as 250 degrees Fahrenheit. This exceeds the temperature of boiling water by almost 40 degrees.
Basic Pressure Cooking
Most pressure cookers sold for home use have indicators that register when the cooker has reached 5, 10, and 15 pounds pressure. Fifteen pounds is the most common setting from which to begin timing foods that are being cooked. Because of the high temperatures reached inside a pressure cooker, cooking times are reduced by about one-third from the time the lid is locked to the time it is removed.
Standard food recipes can be modified for a pressure cooker with less water being used since there is no evaporation during cooking. A vegetable soup or stew can be made with as little as 1/2 cup water since vegetables contain so much water themselves which will not be lost during the cooking process.
Nutritional Advantages Of Pressure Cookers
Foods cooked in a pressure cooker retain more nutrients than those cooked using other methods. Vegetables cooked in water can loose as much as 50% of their iron, 45% of their phosphorous and magnesium, and 30% of their calcium. Vitamin C is often lost through oxidation and prolonged cooking times. Because air in a pressure cooker is expelled through the vent pipe oxidation is nearly eliminated. Since only enough water is used to create steam, water-soluble vitamins are protected.
Pressure cooking also saves energy. Once the optimal 15 pound cooking level is reached the heat to the cooker is reduced with the cooker maintaining its internal temperature while the food cooks faster than with conventional methods.
Meats prepared in a pressure cooker retain more of their natural juices while the need for basting is eliminated. Since there is no air in the cooker meats can’t dry out. Because juices and moisture are retained during the cooking process the household food budget can be stretched with less expensive cuts of meat coming out tender and flavorful.
In addition, you can find the best Japanese rice cooker if you want to avoid burning rice. A Japanese rice cooker has many advantages that you can read about in the linked article above. It will help to keep your rice warm and allow you to cook on your own scheduled time. Look for options such as pot capacity and cooking time and you’ll make the best selection for you.
Use As A Sterilizer
Pressure cookers can also be used as sterilizes because they can reach temperatures of up to 250 degrees. Household items like baby bottles, cooking utensils, and heat resistant plastic items can be sterilized by placing a rack in the bottom of the pan and adding 1 1/2 cups water. When 15 pounds is registered reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes. Then remove the cooker from the stove and reduce heat normally.
Basic Pressure Cooker Safety
Pressure cookers are safe to use when normal care is taken prior to and during their use. Many models have a black, rubber plug in the lid which acts as a safety valve that releases in the event the cooker becomes overheated due to lack of water or a clogged vent pipe. Always check the vent pipe on the lid before use to make sure it is clear.
Depending on the model, never fill a pressure cooker more than 1/2 to 3/4 full. When cooking rice and dried beans do not fill the cooker more than half full to allow for expansion. Dried beans should be soaked prior to cooking. Always add about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to one cup of dried beans to control foaming which may clog the vent pipe. Check the pressure cookers instruction book for information about which foods may froth and sputter, potentially clogging the vent pipe.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cooking and cooling a pressure cooker. Some foods cooked in a pressure cooker, like vegetables, require quicker cooling under cold water. Most meat dishes cool by taking the cooker off the burner while allowing the pressure to drop and the cooker to cool on its own. Always wait for the indicator to register no pressure in the cooker before unlocking and removing the lid.
Pressure cookers provide quick, inexpensive, healthy, great tasting meals. As with any cookware, always read the instruction book provided by the manufacturer before using.