Pressure cookers are so quick and easy to use that many among us now cook different dishes using these essential kitchen appliances. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical of using one at first. I heard of all the rumors out there – of pressure cookers exploding, cooker whistle not blowing or foods charring too quick. I wanted to stick to my usual cooking utensils. But since almost every household had one, I decided to give it a try anyway. Once I bought and learned how to use a pressure cooker, I never had to look back again.
There are a few basics you need to be familiar with before you consider buying the best pressure cooker available now. First, you should know the principle based on which it works. Any food that needs to be cooked using steam or water-based fluids can be easily prepared in it. Water is boiled to its boiling point that increases the pressure inside the sealed container. The pressure is then slowly released outwards, allowing your food to cook very quickly without destroying the much-needed nutrients and vitamins. Pressure cookers save you from wasting too much energy and time. A lot of people observed my initial negligence to use a pressure cooker, but seeing the expert I’m now, they now ask for some cooking advice every now and then!
How to Use a Pressure Cooker?
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use a pressure cooker without burning food and feeling disappointed.
Setting Up Your Pressure Cooker
Never use a pressure cooker having cracks or dents since this would release hot steam, which could cause severe burns on your body. Be very careful about this. Ensure there is no food leftover inside and remove it off in case you find any.
Before cooking, the pressure cooker must be filled with water or any liquid, at least two-thirds of it. The rest of the space is for steam to move around in the sealed container. Do not fill it with too much food, it could affect the flow of steam inside.
Preparing Your Food
- Deglaze certain types of foods first
I personally recommend this. Poultry and brown meat, and vegetables like onions, carrots and peppers should be heated on canola oil in an uncovered pressure cooker. Try deglazing the cooker by adding wine or water. Put the food back into the cooker and cook under pressure. If you are using an electric cooker, make sure you click on the ‘brown’ setting. Or, you can also brown your meat in a pan first and then cook it in your pressure cooker.
- Use a steamer basket and trivets
Vegetables, fruits and seafood can be cooked on steamer baskets. The trivet is placed at the bottom of the cooker while the steamer basket is placed on top for cooking. Fish might get stuck to the basket while cooking, so rub the basket with some canola oil before cooking.
- Soak beans and peas in water beforehand
Drain the water away and then place beans and peas in your pressure cooker, although rice and oats do not need to be soaked. Knowing how to prepare the perfect rice dish with your cooker is an important factor here.
- Always take a look at your pressure cooker manual
The manual will contain guidelines on the type of foods you can cook with your pressure cooker and how long it might take to cook. It will also tell you the amount of water you might need to add for every food type.
The Step by Step Cooking Procedure
- After placing food and water inside your cooker, set the temperature of your burner to a high heat. Take off the safety valve and seal the lid.
- Turn the burner on and let the water be turned to steam. A good technique of using pressure cookers is to first start off with slow-cooking foods, such as meat. As mentioned above, meat usually takes around 15 to 20 minutes to cook. Once these types of foods are partially done cooking, you can add the fast-cooking items to the meat.
- Now allow the cooker to get to a high pressure setting and cook all the foods together so that they are finished at the same time. After a quick release of pressure, allow your foods to simmer at a low heat. This step is not required in electric pressure cookers since the heat is adjusted automatically.
- You can also time your food with kitchen timers if you want. Usually, there is some sort of indicator that gives you an idea of how high the pressure is. Some pressure cookers have marks and the older versions let steam out of the vent if the pressure is too high, but this does not mean that cooking is done. It simply means that the heat needs to be lower and the food needs to simmer. Electric pressure cookers are extremely convenient in terms of time. You can set your desired level of pressure, set a certain amount of cooking time and it will automatically beep when the food is done. Yes, it’s that simple and easy!
Pressure Release from the Pressure Cooker
You can’t just remove the lid and take away the food because you need to first control the pressure. There are three ways of releasing pressure and the technique is different for each recipe. Actually, your recipes will always tell you what kind of pressure release you must do.
- The natural release method: Let the food continue cooking while the pressure is reduced slowly on its own. This technique is slow but it is usually done for meat recipes.
- The cold water release method: The quickest way to release pressure is this method, but this is not applicable for an electric pressure. Place your cooker in the sink and pour cold water over the lid until the pressure is reduced.
- The quick release method: When you release the quick release button on the lid, the pressure is slowly removed from the cooker.
You should ensure that all the pressure inside the cooker has been released. When the sound of the steam escaping completely stops, you’ll know that all the pressure is out. If you are using an electric pressure cooker, unplug it, carefully remove the lid and then serve your food.
If you are living in an altitude at or above 3000 feet your cooking time will be much longer than normal. By following these steps you can cook food without worrying about burning it too quickly.
As you can see, pressure cookers are so useful that you will not be able to live without it when you will get the hang of it. I often take my pressure cooker to hilltops and during camping trips with my family. Did you know you can also can your foods using your pressure cooker? Certain pressure cookers come with pressure gauges that you can use to make canned foods, such as low acid foods, fish and meat. Pressure cookers are quick, convenient and they allow you to cook various kinds of food without spending too much energy or water.
Although there are various types of pressure cookers on the market, we can safely agree that electric pressure cookers are the best since you do not have to adjust the heat or pressure manually. You can also set the cooking methods however you want. For example, if you want to simmer your food, you just have to click on the ‘simmer’ option. For the beginners, I would personally recommend using an electric pressure cooker. However, all pressure cookers work almost the same way, so the choice is yours!