How To Use A Pressure Cooker
What’s not to like about the humble pressure cooker? It uses less power than an oven, helps make a cheaper cut of meat deliciously tender, halves the cooking time of most dishes, and retains more nutrients. Here are 8 tips on how to use one, if you’ve never given in a try.
1. Safety First
The instructions to your newly purchased the best pressure cooker will show you a number of safety features that have been put into place. This is due mainly to the excessive amount of steam that pressure cookers & slow cookers generate. Steam can scold if you’re not careful, so bear this in mind.
2. Brown First
Pressure cooking leads to great tasting food, but it doesn’t give it that browned final appearance. Best to do this before you engage with the pressurizing process. A quick sear, a few spices, garlic (best garlic press), and onions can be applied, before putting it in and let things get seriously pressurized!
3. Liquid First
In order to produce the relevant steam, a certain amount of liquid is required. Your machine’s instructions will guide you as to how much liquid is needed, ie. for casserole this much, smoky beef brisket that much, and so on. The machine can’t function without some liquid, though, although it will certainly use far less than in conventional cooking.
4. Measure First
Two-thirds is the maximum to which a pressure cooker can be filled. With liquids like soup, half is the max. Overfilling your pressure cooker can lead to some pretty nasty consequences; explosive – which will take a long time to clean it all up. The steam needs to be allowed to do its job, after all, and won’t take kindly to being crowded out.
5. Heat First
Rather than a gradual crescendo, pressure cooking requires a fast start if the food is not to become overdone. Crank up the heat at the start because your food starts to cook as soon as the relevant pressure has been reached. At that point, turn it down to the minimum in order to allow the pressure to do its thing.
6. Release First
The steam in your pressure cooker can be released in three ways:
- Switch Off The Heat – Leave the pressure to subside in its own time (handy for casseroles due to the length of cooking time).
- Switch A Pressure Release Valve – Get oven gloves at the ready due to steam rushing out (fine for hardy foods than won’t get damaged).
- Switch On A Cold Tap – Immerse the pressure cooker under it (great for veggies or fish, which you won’t want to be overcooked).
The first option will allow you to be environmentally friendly because you can actually turn off your machine before it is due to be finished; the remaining heat will still continue to cook your food.
7. Thicken First
Unlike with the evaporating process that occurs on your stove-top, the moisture is hermetically sealed by your pressure cooker; so, you’d be advised to add a little cornflour once the lid is up, and this should help thicken up your dish.
8. Clean First
Pressure cookers are designed to cook, not store food. Empty your delicious food into containers, if you don’t intend for it all to be eaten right away. If not, you’ll run the risk of marks and erosion forming, since the material used to make pressure cookers can’t handle foods being kept therein indefinitely.
Pressure cooker lids ought to be washed soon as possible, using warm water and washing-up liquid. They are not generally dishwasher friendly, although if yours is you will still need to remove the rubber gasket in order to protect it from damp and deterioration. Make sure you dry thoroughly, before returning it to the cupboard.
There are two further advantages of pressure cookers; first, you’re saving the hassle of having to have multiple pots and pans assembled; just one pressure cooker will do. Second, the heat in your kitchen is dramatically reduced compared to regular cooking due to all that heat and steam being locked into just one fantastic, self-contained unit. This could be of real benefit in those hot, sticky summer months when the last thing you’ll want to do is have a hot kitchen adding to the heat.
Overall, pressure cookers are efficient, easy to use, easy to clean, and will leave you with less clean-up. What’s not to like!