Cooking has always been one of our favorite hobbies. It has become even more popular these days with more and more TV cooking programmes and cooking books being available in stores, making numerous recipes more accessible to us. As a result, cooking enthusiasts like us are getting more adventurous!
Cooking is a great therapeutic hobby. There is nothing better and more satisfying than cooking a delicious meal for your friends and family without spending a lot. Having a great repertoire of yummy and easy-to-cook recipes is really important.
Having great ingredients is arguably one of the most important parts of cooking, but I strongly believe that having the right equipment is just as crucial. Equipment like a smoothie maker, garlic crusher or a high-quality mixer always have saved so much time, and now it is time for the pressure cooker to take the spotlight!
Have you ever thought about making slow-roasted port and decided against it because of your shortage of time? Or considered braising some meat or making a stew, but opted for something else because it would just take you so long? That is where a pressure cooker can really help! You can cook risottos and stews in a pressure cooker in no time at all!
In the past pressure cookers have had somewhat of a bad reputation. Many of us are asking, are pressure cookers safe? A lot of us can remember them noisily rattling on the stove top, worrying they are going to explode. But today’s pressure cookers are much different, and there really is little need to worry about the safety of these essential kitchen appliances. We’ve put together our pressure cooker safety tips so that preferring a pressure cooker over a rice cooker gets easier for you.
Comparing Modern and Old Pressure Cookers
We can all remember the old pressure cooker whistling away on the hob, about to blow, and admittedly the whole method of cooking did seem quite unsafe. But there are lots of differences between pressure cookers of the past and the modern types you can find in the shop today.
Modern pressure cookers now have different and new safety features. These include a feature which stops you from opening the cooker until it is completely depressurized.
The original pressure cookers had only one pressure setting, but as they developed the next generation has two or more settings. They often had dials which you could change to increase the tension and adjust the pressure. The most modern electric pressure cookers have an automatic regulating pressure feature.
The original pressure cooker, the noisy ones we remember, had a valve which let the pressure out during cooking. It was this that created the noise and rattling on the stovetop. Nowadays, modern pressure cookers have spring-loaded valves, which stops these two issues.
The oldest type of pressure cooker had a mechanical timer, then it developed into a digital control setting with a countdown to show the pressure. The most modern and recent pressure cookers allow you to preset times and modes, with various settings to change temperature, time and pressure.
How Safe Are Today’s Pressure Cookers?
There is something decidedly unsafe about leaving a hot pot of food, covered at a really high pressure to cook away. It does seem unsafe and you could even be left with burned food. Not to mention the memories we have of old pressure cookings rattling and spewing all over the kitchen! In fact, all of your fears are unfounded. There really is very little to worry about with modern pressure cookers. In fact, as they have had such a bad reputation in the past, and many people still work on their safety, they now have more safety features than you could ever imagine!
You need to remember that pressure cookers have changed and improved over time, so the ones you will find today are completely safe. It is still really important, as with any kitchen equipment, that you know how to use your pressure cooker, so you keep 100% safe. If you are still a little worried about the safety of modern pressure cookers, then read on to learn more about their safety features.
The Safety Features of Modern Pressure Cookers
Modern pressure cookers have a lock on top of the lid which means you physically cannot open the cooker until the pressure is safe. The locking device knows the pressure level in the cooker and will only open when it should. As well as this the interlocking lid mechanisms are so strong that you can be sure it won’t open unexpectedly when you are moving the cooker around.
Pressure release valves
The types of valves in modern pressure cookers regulate and control the pressure in the cooker. These valves are mainly spring-loaded valves. For example, if the pressure gets too high, then it will regulate itself and reduce the pressure. If there isn’t enough pressure then the opposite will happen.
Spring loaded valves
Spring loaded valves make sure that pressure is realized from the pot, without compromising the temperature inside. This means pressure can be safely released, whilst still cooking your delicious dinner at the right temperature. They also make sure that steams released when the pressure is too high.
Jiggle top pressure valves
These are different to spring-loaded valves in their design. They tend to be seen more in the older types of pressure cookers, as they tend to create more rattling and relate a lot of steam when the pressure gets too high, but they are still equally as safe as spring-loaded valves.
Older pressure cookers were quite tricky to move around safely, but now modern cookers have useful handles. They are often made of rubber or plastic that stay cool even under high temperatures.
Pop up indicators
Pop up indicators are a brilliant safety feature of the modern pressure cookers. They show you, very accurately, the exact pressure inside the cooker. They work by a weight moving to show the pressure building up. This way you can know exactly how much pressure is in your cooker.
Gasket release aperture
You can find this feature under the lid of the cooker. It pushes up when pressure is high, releasing pressure through a gap. It acts as a second pressure release function in case the valves fail to work properly.
Modern cookers go through different stages to tell you what is going on with the pressure inside. First of all, the cooker will hiss to show that the lowest pressure limit is reached. Then, as the pressure goes up, steam will come out from the escape holes in the valve. If they fail to work, then steam will come out through the hole in the lid. Finally, the gasket release aperture will work if all other indicators fail.
Encapsulated even heat base design
Modern pressure cookers have a great 3-ply base design, which is made of steel and aluminum. The three-layered, encapsulated design makes sure heat spreads evenly across the base, so there are no really hot spots that are unsafe.
Safety Tips when Using a Pressure Cooker
Are you still thinking, are pressure cookers safe, or if you are still a little nervous about using a modern pressure cooker, then have a read through some of our safety tips, which will help you navigate pressure cooker’s safety.
Always check your equipment
If you keep your pressure cooker in good working order, then this will make sure it is super safe. Check the gasket, and replace it every year if you use the cooker frequently. Also, check the seal of the pot isn’t broken-often dried food can get stuck here.
Make sure you use enough liquid
The liquid you use in your pressure cooker is what creates the steam, which is an essential part of the cooking process. Most recipes will tell you to use the right amount of liquid, but always make sure you add at least half a cup of water. You can always add more if the steam doesn’t seem to be building up.
Do not overfill your pressure cooker
You should go by the rule of only filling your pressure cooker two thirds full, or maybe even a half full for rice or grain-based dishes like risotto since these ingredients expand a lot (learn how to cook rice with a pressure cooker). Watching how much you fill your pressure cooking will stop food or liquid blocking up any of the vents.
Clean your pressure cooking properly
Dry food can get stuck in valves and vents if you don’t clean your cooker properly. Make sure you clean all the different parts separately and thoroughly, to prevent this from happening.
Be aware of foods that froth
This may sound odd, but some foods do froth. Think of things like rhubarb when you boil it, or pasta. The froth can block the valve and the vents that release both steam and pressure. If you really want to use your pressure cooker to cook these types of foods, then make sure you only fill the cooker up a little.
Avoid pressure frying
Do not put any oil in your pressure oven! This is a really dangerous thing to do and pressure ovens should not be used for frying. Doing this can melt lots of the safety features in your pressure oven, making it unsafe for cooking.
Release the pressure safely
There are three main ways you can release the pressure of the cooker. Firstly, through quick release, which means you use the steam to release the valve and let more steam out. The second is natural release, which just means you take the oven off of the heat and leave it to sit. The final method is cold water release which is just running water over the lid. Always make sure you tilt the pan away from you when you let steam out, as it will be hot against your face if you leave it too close.
Follow your instruction manual
As with any new piece of kitchen equipment, you must read your instruction manual and know how to use it before getting started. This is really important for pressure cookers. If you understand how to use it and maintain it, then cooking with it will be really safe and easy.
Modern pressure cookers all work the same way, but you can try lots of different options which vary wildly in price. If you are looking to buy a pressure cooker, then buy it in the same way you would a normal saucepan. Factors like higher quality materials and thicker base are often better, but will see you spending a lot more! Make sure you buy a big pressure cooker, of five liters or more, as you’ll be cooking a lot of big stews and casseroles in there which need a lot of space.
Hopefully, you are now ready to go out and buy the best pressure cooker out there! They are marvelous inventions with lots of amazing features. You will find yourself cooking quicker, saving on gas or electricity bills, and saving money on ingredients, as they are great and cooking cheaper things like beans, pulses, and cheap cuts of meat.
Most importantly, you should no longer be worried about pressure cooker safety. They have come a long way since the days of older pressure cookers, and they have many safety features to keep you protected. And if you are still a little worried, make sure you follow all of our pressure cooker safety tips. Happy cooking!