Pressure cookers are amazing appliances that are designed to help you make slow-cooked meals in a shorter period of time. Forms stews to soups, pressure cookers can be used to make a variety of tasty, nutrient-filled meals.
We understand that these appliances can be daunting to work with at first, but once you have a good understanding of how to use them, you won’t look back. So let’s jump right in!
How Do Pressure Cookers Work?
Pressure cookers have been around for centuries – since the late 1600s, in fact! Over time, pressure cookers’ functionality hasn’t changed essentially; however, they have become much safer to use.
Pressure cookers essentially use steam and pressure to tenderise and cook food. Once the lid has been tightly sealed, the liquid within the pot begins to boil, creating steam. Because the steam is trapped inside the pot, it begins to build pressure.
Now, here comes a little physics, so stay with us – the added pressure allows the liquid in the pot to continue heating up past its boiling point. All of this – the pressure, steam, and increased boiling point – is what helps the food to cook more quickly.
What Can You Cook In A Pressure Cooker?
Now, apart from understanding how a pressure cooker works, it’s also worth knowing what you can and can’t cook in this kitchen appliance. Traditionally, people use pressure cookers for cooking meals that would usually take several hours to prepare.
However, you can actually cook most foods in it, such as:
- Mashed potatoes
- Tough cuts of meat like beef and pork
While it’s safe to say that you can cook almost any food in a pressure cooker, there are a couple of things that you should avoid making in this appliance, such as creamy sauces, fried chicken (or any other items that you want to get nice and crispy), cookies, burger patties, pies and steaks.
How To Use A Pressure Cooker
If you’re a pressure cooker novice, it’ll take a little bit of trial and error to perfect your skills. It’s always recommended that you read the instructions that come with your specific appliance, as each model is different.
However, there are some general tips that can help you learn how to use a pressure cooker.
- Brown Your Meat
Browning your meat is a great way to add flavour and colour to your dish. Most electric and digital pressure cookers will have a sauté function for this. In stove-top pressure cookers, simply leave the lid off while you brown the meat.
- Add Liquid
Pressure cookers need liquid to create steam and effectively cook your food. Now that you’ve browned your meat, you’ll want to add any additional ingredients to the cooker as well as liquid (e.g., stock). Follow your pressure cooker’s instructions to ensure you add enough but not too much liquid.
- Turn The Pressure Cooker On
Now you’ll need to secure the lid and start cooking your food. With a stove-top cooker, you’ll simply need to turn up the heat to the maximum setting. On an electric cooker, you’ll simply need to select your settings and time and leave it to do its thing.
- Once You’ve Hit The Pressure Mark, Turn The Heat Down
Electric pressure cookers are easy because they’ll do this on their own. With a stove-top cooker, you’ll have to keep an eye on the cooking time and turn the heat down to a minimum once it’s reached the set time.
- Release The Pressure
Most pressure cookers have a valve that allows you to slowly release the built-up pressure. However, with a stove-top pressure cooker, you’ll need to leave the pot to cool down. Alternatively, you can place it in a sink of cold water, and once the pressure has been released, you can open the lid and serve the food.