Pressure Cooker Comparison
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Pressure Cooker Buying Guide
What is a Pressure Cooker?
When it comes to finding the perfect pressure cooker for your home, there are a number of key qualities to look for which are the hallmarks of a good device. First of all, you need a cooker that features high-quality and heavy-gauge steel. No matter how many features, accessories, and bells and whistles the cooker has, it’s no good to you if it isn’t made from the highest quality materials. The metal makeup of the pressure cooker should be written clearly on the box before you purchase it.
Efficiency: Not only does a high quality pressure cooker retain your food’s nutrients, but it also saves energy. This method of cooking is far more efficient than using various pots and pans on several burners, and this results in sizable energy savings. A pressure cooker is basically a one-pot cooking process, saving not only energy in your home, but also saving you valuable time when it comes to preparing a meal.
Timer Saver:Unlike a crock pot that takes several hours to cook your one pot meal, the pressure cooker functions in a similar way but in half the time. In fact, you can whip-up delicious and healthy meals in a matter of minutes with one of these remarkable machines. Creating fantastic meals for the whole family will be easier than you ever imagined.
Cool Kitchen: Another benefit of owning a pressure cooker is that it keeps the environment cooler. We all know how much an oven and several pots on the stove can heat up a kitchen. This can be pleasant if you’re in your New England cottage on a winter day, but most people don’t like the overabundance of heat that’s created when cooking a meal. A pressure cooker eliminates this heat, by absorbing its own steam and not emitting it into your environment, therefore creating a much more pleasant atmosphere. Cooking one pot meals during the summertime has never been more possible.
Easy Cleanup: Just when you were beginning to think that pressure cooking was too good to be true, you can marvel at the amazing benefit of having less cleanup time. We all know how much effort it takes to clean various pots and pans. When steam and oil escape from your cookware you not only have to clean the pans but also the surrounding environment which collects the detritus of your meal. With a pressure cooker, the secured lid prevents any kind of splashing or spatters that you get from other kitchen pieces. What this means is that there’s never a need to clean something that has boiled over, and when the meal is complete, there’s only one pot to wash.
Canning: So as not to overwhelm you with the benefits of owning a pressure cooker, we’ll only add one more. Did you know that you can preserve food with a pressure cooker? These remarkable devices are designed for canning foods to be stored for future consumption. Larger models are actually called ‘canners’, and these can develop up to 15psi, which is the highest pressure needed to cook and can various foods, including meat and fish. Smaller models of pressure cookers can also be used for this purpose, but they hold fewer jars.
What to Look For?
- Stainless Steel & Three-Ply Bottom: Not all stainless steel is the same, so be sure to look for 18/10 Stainless Steel. This provides stain and corrosion resistance, shine, and durability.
- Accurate Pressure Indicator: Be sure your pressure cooker is able to reach 15psi, and look for an accurate indicator that lets you know when this level has been reached.
- Quick Release: This should be built into the pressure regulator. The mechanism is meant to quickly lower pressure within the pot without releasing heat. With this feature you can throw new ingredients into the pot and the device will quickly resume cooking.
- Safety Features: There are many new and modern safety features that were not available on pressure cookers of the past. These features protect you from overpressure, so be sure to look for a cooker with safety venting and valve stem.
- Warranty: When you purchase a good pressure cooker it should last for several decades, but do be sure to look for a model that has a warranty attached just in case.
Most pressure cookers on the market today come in 4, 6, or 8 quart size. When looking to purchase one for your home, take into consideration the number of portions you’ll be preparing in the pot, how much storage space you have, and your budget. It is widely believed that a 6 quart cooker is probably the smallest that you want to go, and if you can afford it, it’s suggested that you invest in an 8 quart size. The reason that this is suggested is because a pressure cooker can really only be filled to two-thirds of its capacity, and then only half full for foods that froth or foam during the cooking process. Keep this handy advice in mind:
“While even the largest pressure cooker is capable of cooking the smallest amounts of food, large amounts cannot be cooked in a smaller one.”
Where to Buy
Any department store that has a large selection of cookware will also sell pressure cookers, but you’re definitely going to find a better selection when you search online. There are literally countless models to choose from, and many companies will allow for free shipping. Also, any kitchen specialty store will carry a couple of different models to choose from.
How to Use it?
Knowing how to use your pressure cooker properly ensures that you’ll get the very best out of it with each use. There’s a bit of a learning curve involved, but once you get the hang of it you’re going to be amazed by how easy it really is.
- Know How it Works: The first step to successfully using a pressure cooker is simply to know how it functions. Heated steam within cooks food faster because it raises the boiling point.
- Check for Dents: Before using your pressure cooker, be sure to always check for dents or cracks inside. Also make sure that the cooker is free of any leftover food. Pressure cookers that have cracks can be very dangerous.
- Fill the Cooker Properly:There must always be some form of liquid in the pressure cooker for it to cook anything. Many recipes simply call for water to be used. Be advised that the cooker should never be more than 2/3 full of liquid as this does not leave enough room for steam.
- Prepare Food for the Cooker: Various foods will need to be prepared in different ways before going into the pressure cooker, so be sure to follow all instructions thoroughly.
- Meat and Poultry: Be sure to season the meat before putting it into the cooker. You will also want to brown the meat first for maximum flavor. This is done by placing the meat in the cooker with a bit of oil. Or you can choose to brown meat in a pan before putting it into the cooker.
- Seafood: Be sure to first wash the seafood and then place on the pressure cooker steamer basket on the support trivet. Always put vegetable oil on the basket when you are cooking fish to keep it from sticking.
- Dry Beans and Chickpeas: Soak beans for at least 4-6 hours, and do not add salt to the water. Drain the beans and place them in the pressure cooker, with 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- Rice and Grains: Be sure to soak wheat grain berries and pearl barley in water for 4 hours. There’s no need to soak rice or oats.
- Vegetables: If vegetables are frozen then they will need to be defrosted. Wash fresh vegetables and place into the steamer basket. Most vegetables will need to be cooked with a 1/2 cup of water at the bottom of the cooker if they take 5 minutes to cook.
- Fruit: Wash all fresh fruit before placing it into the cooker. Use the steamer basket for cooking, and add about 1/2 cup of water.
- Determine the Amount of Liquid Needed: The manual should be able to inform you how much water is needed for various food items. There are also handy guides found online. Be sure that you put in an accurate amount.
- Place Food Inside the Cooker: Once the food is in the cooker, add the appropriate amount of water that was determined.
- Remove Safety Valve and Secure the Lid Shut: Make sure that the lid locks properly, and place the cooker on a large burner. You’ll want to set the heat to high to begin with. The cooker will automatically begin to convert the water into steam. If you have an electric cooker, there will be no need to place it on a burner.
- Watch for the Pressure to Reach Desired Amount: The amount of pressure will steadily build, and this level should be clearly displayed on the screen.
- Begin Timing: Once the desired pressure is reached it’s time to begin timing the food that is cooking per the recipes instructions. If there are any other ingredients that need to be added during the cooking process, be sure to time when you will have to add those ingredients and use an alarm to remind you.
- Remove the Food: Once the cooking is complete, it’s time to safely remove your food from the pressure cooker. Begin by turning the device off, and do not open the lid until the pressure has been released. The manual will instruct you about the proper time to open the lid, and how long it takes for your device to safely release pressure.
- Double Check That the Pressure Has Been Released: Make sure the screen clearly indicates that the pressure has been released before ever attempting to remove your food. Once you know for sure that there is no more pressure, you’re free to lift the lid and take a look, and a sniff, of your meal.
- Remove Lid: Remove the lid of the pressure cooker and take out the food. Be careful as the meal is certainly going to be hot, so it’s best to use a ladle or long spoon to get it out.
- Enjoy! Once your food is complete, you’re going to be amazed at how well-cooked and flavorful it is. There’s nothing like using a pressure cooker the proper way to make some of the most amazing one-pot dishes in no time. After cleaning, store your pressure cooker in a cool, secure place, and be sure to leave the lid off of it to prevent odors from accumulating inside.
- Timing is Everything: Foods like fresh vegetables and fruits can very quickly be overcooked in a pressure cooker. Be sure to always use an accurate, reliable timer.
- Be Accurate with an Interrupted Cooking Method: Different foods cook at different speeds, so if you need to open the pot to add new ingredients at various intervals, make sure you note what time you need to put that new ingredient in, especially if it’s quite fragile. Use a timer to remind you.
- Follow the Recipe: It’s important that you use the exact amount of any ingredient that is called for in the recipe. This is particularly true with liquid ingredients, because they are instrumental in creating steam.
- No Frying: Do not use your pressure cooker as a deep fryer, unless it is marketed as such.
- Proper Storage: Do not store your cooker closed with the lid on, as this locks aromas into the cooker, as well as molds. Store the lid and base separately, and do not store the rubber gasket in the base. It’s also a good idea to sprinkle a bit of baking soda inside the cooker to prevent any problems.
- Keep an Eye on it: You do not want to leave your pressure cooker alone for too long while it’s working. And you certainly don’t want to leave children and pets around the appliance while it’s on.
- Always Read the Instructions: Even if you’re sure that you know how to use a new pressure cooker, do be sure to read all of the instructions thoroughly before operating it. There may be some elements that you weren’t aware of that are important for your safety.
Beginners Recipe: Pressure Cooker Potato Salad
- Serves, 6
- Prep: 20 minutes
- Cook: 10 minutes
- Ready in: 1 hr 30 minutes
- 6 medium red potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- Begin by placing the potatoes in the pressure cooker with water. Cook at a high pressure for 3 minutes. If the potatoes are larger, cook for 4 minutes. Then let the steam release for 3 minutes.
- Quickly release pressure and open the cooker. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel and dice the potatoes.
- Alternate layers of potato, onion, and celery in a large bowl. Season each layer with salt and pepper to taste.
- Next, top with the chopped egg and sprinkle with the dill.
- Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, and cider vinegar in a small bowl.
- Gently fold mayo mixture into the potatoes.
- Chill at least one hour before serving.
Owning a pressure cooker is an amazing way to speed up your cooking time and prepare some seriously nutritious and delicious meals. Finding the right cooker for you is simply about asking yourself how big a cooker you need, and how much you’re willing to spend. There are countless models on the market these days, but not all of these are the same. Be sure to look for a cooker that is made of the highest quality materials, and has a number of safety features that are built-in.
Also, be sure to look for a cooker that is easy to use, if it’s your first time owning one. Almost every cooker will come with a handy manual that will take you through all the necessary steps, while also informing you how to clean and maintain your pressure cooker. There are also some that come with recipe books that get you well on your way to making the most delicious home cooker meals imaginable.
Once you find the right device, it’s time to master it. Do some experimentation, and don’t be afraid to fail. There are so many functions that a pressure cooker can perform, so there’s no reason to just use it to make your favorite soup. Experiment with cooking, sautéing, steaming and browning, and even learn how to make fun and delicious desserts that the whole family will enjoy. It’s a good idea to explore the world of canning and preserving fruits and vegetables with the use of your handy kitchen tool. When you own a quality pressure cooker, there’s no limit to the culinary tricks you can perform.
- Instant Pot: http://instantpot.com
- Cuisinart: http://www.cuisinart.com/
- Power Pressure Cooker: http://www.powerpressurecooker.com