Pressure cooking is a way of cooking food, using water or other cooking liquid in a sealed container called pressure cooker. It’s faster, economical and more convenient way of cooking food. It was discovered by a Frenchman in 1600’s while experimenting on pressure and steam.
You can cook almost anything in a pressure cooker. It’s very effective to tenderize meat for soup or for roast, but many use the pressure cooker to cook beans, stews and even vegetables.
Basic Features of a Pressure Cooker
When purchasing a pressure cooker for the first time, these are the key features you have to check:
- Pressure Regulator – Choose one that has a well-designed pressure regulator so you won’t over cook your food especially if you are not familiar with how much pressure a food needs to cook. There are three different kinds: weighted valve, modified weighted valve, and spring valve.
- Capacity – The size will depend on your purpose. If you’re cooking for 1-2 persons, four quarts will be the best size to buy; if you’re cooking for families, the six quart is more suitable; but if you’re cooking for a large family size regularly, the eight-quart models are the most ideal for you.
- Handles – A sturdy handle is very important because your pressure cooker can become very heavy and hot. Choose a sturdy and large handle. The best handles are on each sides of your cooker so the weight is balanced when you have to move it.
Cover Interlock Mechanisms – This feature makes pressure cookers safe to use, because a pressurized steaming hot liquid can be very dangerous. Modern pressure cookers have a mechanism where it won’t build up pressure until it’s safely locked or won’t unlock until the pressure has lowered down to a safe level.
- Releasing Pressure – A good model would allow you to manually release pressure. Different recipes needs different amount of pressure to be released while cooking, so this feature should come in handy in these instances.
It’s also wise to see to it that the material it’s made of is worth the price. The sturdier the material is, of course, the more expensive it can get. There are also different advantages and disadvantages with this material. Aluminum pressure cookers conduct excellent heat which tends to work really well, aluminum is a light weight material and doesn’t really last very long. This doesn’t cost as much as the ones made from stainless steel.
Stainless steel pressure cookers are a bit more expensive than aluminum-made ones, but it is well worth it. Although it is not a good heat conductor and heavier because of its material, it will stand the test of time without becoming covered with stain. Since it’s heavier, choose well-designed handles.
Top 3 Benefits of Pressure Cooking
- It’s healthy. You’ve already heard that how you prepare your food matters when it comes to preserving its nutrients. That is true. So no matter if you buy fresh vegetables but overcook them, you won’t get the most nutrients from it.
Pressure cooking maintains the quality of foods you cook so vegetables remains crispy and colorful and meats stays juicy and moist. Your food stays just the way you need them. You don’t have to use additional flavoring like salt because it intensifies the flavor. Read some of the best recipes for the best ideas on how to use your pressure cooker.
- It’s efficient. Undoubtedly the most efficient way of cooking your foods, it’s 70% faster than conventional way of cooking. Faster cooking means lesser use of energy, which means lesser money spent. Tenderizing meat may take only up to 30 minutes (depending on how much meat) instead of hours.
- It’s safe and easy to use. Pressure cookers are definitely safe to use and easy to use. It doesn’t take a genius to use a pressure cooker in preparing and cooking food. There’s no difference from using a regular pot. It comes with safety instruction so you shouldn’t be too nervous to use it.
2 Common Disadvantages of Pressure Cooking
Although there are many advantages in pressure cooking, like anything else, there are also some disadvantages.
- Pressure Release – Releasing pressure can be dangerous. So make sure that you are comfortable with the method you use. You can let the pressure release naturally, use cold water method, or release the pressure manually from the valve. Be very careful in this process.
- Multiple Cooking Times – If you are cooking a recipe with many ingredients that cook at different times, it can be a tedious job. Of course start with the ingredient that cooks the longest and end with the one that cooks fastest.
It’s exciting to get your first pressure cooker and it’s best to first read the manual and some instructions before you use it. Also research different recipes and don’t be afraid to explore new recipes and the features of your pressure cooker.
It’s easy to find the best pressure cooker that will suit your need. You just have to identify what you will need it for and what size. Look at the material it’s made of, the features, most especially the safety locks and pressure regulator.
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