Although the pressure cooker has been available since the late 1930s, it is still one of the most misunderstood pieces of cookware. However, a smidgen of education makes you quickly realize that if you want tasteful, nutritious, and easy-to-prepare meals in a short time, the pressure cooker is the answer.
What are the advantages of pressure cooking?
Pressure cooking is a fast, safe, convenient, and healthy way to prepare a wide variety of foods from vegetables to meats to desserts. Because less liquid is required to cook the foods, fewer nutrients are lost during the cooking process. The pressure cooker actually enhances the natural flavor of meats, grains, and vegetables. Additionally, cooking foods under pressure makes for quicker preparation. The pressure cooker saves as much as 60 to 70 percent of the cooking time, thereby cutting energy costs. Other advantages include the convenience and safety of “second-generation” pressure cooking. The combination of preserving a food’s nutrients, a fast cooking time, new safety features, and convenience make a pressure cooker the do-all cookware for today’s kitchen.
What can I cook in a pressure cooker?
People are often surprised to learn that they can cook risotto, polenta, cassoulet, bread pudding, and even cheesecake in a pressure cooker. In addition, consumers are amazed by the intense flavors produced by pressure cooking. From soups and stews, to vegetables, rice, meats, poultry, and even desserts, pressure cooking makes delicious foods in one-third the normal cooking time.
I already have a set of cookware. Do I really need a pressure cooker?
Yes. Every cookware collection should include at least one pressure cooker. It can be used for almost everything from soups to desserts and will quickly become your favorite piece of cookware.
I don’t have time to learn how to cook in a pressure cooker.
The principle of pressure cooking is really quite simple, as easy as 1, 2, 3: prepare, cook, and serve. Because the pressure cooker is airtight, pressure builds up as the liquid begins to boil. The resulting trapped steam causes the internal temperature to rise. Since cooking occurs at a higher temperature, the food cooks faster. The additional heat also results in more tender meats and bean dishes.
How can the pressure cooker save me money?
Most consumers are aware that the pressure cooker is a time-saving method of cooking, but don’t realize how that time savings translates into energy savings in dollars and cents. Since the pressure cooker cooks food in one-third the regular time, a pressure cooker’s initial cost is defrayed each time it is used. For instance, when making pot roast in an electric oven (at 1 hour and 30 minutes) versus cooking the same dish in a pressure cooker on a gas stove, 82 cents in energy costs (based on California rates) are saved. This may not seem like much, but cooking this dish once a week comes to $42.64 in yearly savings just by cooking that one dish in your pressure cooker! Consumers can save over $300 a year in electric costs by using a pressure cooker to create some of the most popular dishes.
How do I choose the right pressure cooker for my needs?
The one feature that will affect the pressure cooker’s performance is the base’s thickness. Ultimately, a thick, solid aluminum bottom serves best. Additionally, consider pressure cookers with different options, such as spring-loaded valves that offer a visual indicator when full pressure has been reached. A quick release feature proves extremely handy as it reduces the pressure inside the cooker in as little as two minutes, compared to 20 to 30 minutes.
Several different sizes and types of pressure cookers are available. There is the traditional stockpot cooker, as well as more specialized forms – a frying pan pressure cooker, for example. First, determine how many people the customer typically cooks for, and what types of foods he or she generally prepares. An industry standard is a 5- or 6-quart cooker. For meat dishes, a frying pan type might prove best. While the meat is cooking, the rice or potatoes can be cooking in a 3- or 4-quart unit. For bean dishes, stocks, or larger families, a 7- or 8-quart pressure cooker is recommended. If cooking for a big crowd or for canning, a 12-quart pressure cooker can handle the volume. The more users cook with a pressure cooker, the more they will realize the potential benefits of having a second or a third pressure cooker on the stove.