Why do you need a pressure cooker in your kitchen? Remember when you always prayed for a miracle of time? When you wanted the meat you were cooking to be tender in 10 minutes instead of 20 or for the beans to just take 30 minutes instead of the whole day. Well, the pressure cooker or pressure pot is the miracle you have been praying for.
How does a pressure cooker work?
A pressure cooker is a sealed pot with a valve that controls the steam pressure inside. As the pot heats up, the liquid inside forms steam, which raises the pressure in the pot. This high-pressure steam has two major effects:
- Raises the boiling point of the water in the pot. When cooking something wet, like a stew or steamed vegetables, the heat of your cooking is limited to the boiling point of water (212°F). But with the steam’s pressure now the boiling point can get as high as 250°F. This higher heat helps the food to cook faster.
- Raises the pressure, forcing liquid into the food. The high pressure also helps force liquid and moisture into the food quickly, which helps it cook faster and also helps certain foods, like tough meat, get very tender very quickly.
The extra-high heat of the pressure cooker also promotes caramelization and browning in a surprising way — we’re not used to food caramelizing when it is cooking in liquid. But the flavors created in a pressure cooker can be really deep and complex — unlike regular steamed foods.
The pressure pot is good for cooking meat, stews but not so good for vegetables and fish. There are ways around it though. You can add fish to your dish at the end of the cooking time (simmer it gently without pressure) after the other ingredients are done.
You should note that
• With pressure cooker recipes, all cooking times should be taken only from when the level of pressure is reached, at which point you should lower the heat but try to maintain the same level of pressure for the time stated. This can involve turning the heat up and down during the cooking process or moving the pan to different sized gas rings.
• Remember that pressure cooking is a wet cooking method and you should never try to cook anything in a pressure cooker without at least a 2cm layer of liquid in the bottom of it.
• Pressure cookers are great for stews and making tough cuts tender but the liquid used doesn’t reduce while cooking, so be prepared to simmer things down to intensify the flavor once the lid comes off.
• For a pressure cooker to work there needs to be space for steam to build into pressure, so never fill it up any more than half way.
• With stovetop pressure cookers there are two ways of releasing the pressure. Firstly you can let the pressure drop naturally which will mean that the food continues to cook as the pressure drops. When you want the pressure to drop quickly, place the pan under the cold tap.
The pressure pot helps you save money since you use less fuel and cooks your food in quick time. Pressure cookers are ideal for every home and should be invested in.