Pressure Cookers – Quick Cooked Meals Like A Slow Cooker

Pressure cookers are a great time saving, energy saving kitchen tool that gives you the feel of a slow cooked meal in much less time. Using this type of kitchen tool you can cook a meal in about 30 minutes, and you can do it safely.

Stove Top Pressure Cooker Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker

Meats can be cooked to fall off of the bone tenderness and it is also great for vegetables and casseroles, it’s especially great for cooking beans that usually have to soak at least overnight, with a cooker they don’t have to soak at all, just put them in the cooker and according to the manual’s instructions for cooking beans they will be done in much less time than in a standard pot or slow cooker. With these cookers medium high to high temperatures are also used to heat up the contents quickly, and can be adjusted once steam release begins so that water is not evaporated to quickly possibly burning the meal.

Pressure cookers are a scary tool for many people because they have heard about them exploding. Those that are made today have many more safety features than the old ones, and they will not let themselves be opened until pressure has been properly released after cooking. The lid locks in place as an added feature so that it can’t open accidentally and give you a steam burn, and has a rubber ring around the rim of the lid that seals the cooker even more tightly.

There are basically two types of pressure cookers, the standard stove top model and the electric model. With the standard model you actually have to monitor the cooker until it has finished its cooking cycle, but with the electric models you merely have to set the proper settings and you can walk away and do something else while your meal is cooking, when it’s done the cooker will turn itself off and release pressure and many have a keep warm cycle which it will go into to keep your meal warm until ready.

How do these cookers work? They work by boiling water and releasing steam in a controlled closed environment through pressure release valves on top of the lid. Water that is part of the item being cooked comes to a boil and produces steam, which is released continuously through the valves at the top of the lid, when the meal is cooked and the liquid has been reduced to a sufficient level, indicating that the meal has finished cooking then the pressure indicator valve lowers in the lid and this is the indicator that it is safe to open the pot. The basic design whether standard or electric has these features. The electric model usually has a removable insert that the food cooks in.

With the standard cooker there are three methods of releasing steam, the natural way which is to allow the steam to release itself after being removed from the heat, until it indicates that it is safe to open the cooker by lower the indicator valve back to its base position. There is also the quick release method where you the person doing the cooking turn a special release valve to vent the steam a little bit to decrease the pressure. Then there is the cold water method where you run cold water on the cooker avoiding the vents to release steam quicker. This method cannot be used with an electric pressure cooker, since you don’t want to ruin the electrical components of the cooker.

When looking for this kitchen tool it is suggested that you purchase a pressure cooker with a minimum 8 quart capacity so that you will have one big enough for large meals, also choose one with a wide base for even browning, since you can do prep work in the pot before creating pressure. In fact some models come with a regular lid which allows you to use the pot as a regular pot. The cooker should also have a large quick release valve.

It is recommended that you buy your pressure cooker new as opposed to used because the cooker must be in perfect condition to prevent accidents such as a steam release to the face or arms or any other body part in reach of rapidly escaping steam under high pressure and a new cooker in good working order with all of its parts will prevent a scary explosion, since the newer cookers really are very safe when handled correctly.

It is very important to read the manual that comes with the pressure cooker to help in its safe usage.

For some nice how-to videos on pressure cookers and their use click on the link to

For some great sections on cooking equipment, some great references are:

• The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2010 by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen

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