Scared Of Pressure Cookers? Here's All You Need To Become A Pro

Pressure cookers are versatile and efficient kitchen tools that can make cooking easier and faster. They work by trapping steam inside a sealed pot, which creates high pressure that helps food cook faster. If you're new to pressure cooking, it can be intimidating, but once you learn the basics, it can become your go-to appliance for everyday meals. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about using a pressure cooker.

Types of Pressure Cookers

There are two types of pressure cookers: stovetop and electric. Stovetop pressure cookers are placed on a stovetop and heated using a gas or electric burner. Electric pressure cookers are standalone appliances that plug into an electrical outlet. Both types work the same way, but electric pressure cookers offer additional features such as programmable timers and multiple cooking modes.

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How They Work

Pressure cookers work by creating a sealed environment that traps steam and increases the pressure inside the pot. This pressure helps to cook food faster, as it raises the boiling point of water. At sea level, water boils at 100°C (212°F), but in a pressure cooker, it can reach up to 121°C (250°F). This higher temperature cooks food faster and helps to retain more nutrients than other cooking methods.

Parts of a Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers have several parts that work together to create a sealed cooking environment. 

  • Lid: The lid is the most critical part of a pressure cooker as it seals the pot and holds in the steam. Most pressure cooker lids have a locking mechanism that prevents them from opening until the pressure has been released.
  • Gasket: The gasket is a rubber or silicone ring that sits inside the lid and creates a tight seal when the lid is closed.
  • Pressure release valve: The pressure release valve is a small knob or button on the lid that allows you to release the steam and pressure inside the pot.
  • Pressure indicator: The pressure indicator is a small metal or plastic rod that pops up when the pressure inside the pot has reached the desired level.
  • Cooking pot: The cooking pot is where you place the food you want to cook. Most pressure cookers have a non-stick or stainless steel cooking pot.

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Steps To Use A Pressure Cooker

Using a pressure cooker can be intimidating at first, but it's relatively easy once you understand the basics. Here's how to use a pressure cooker:

  • Add the ingredients: Start by adding the ingredients you want to cook into the cooking pot. Be sure not to fill the pot more than two-thirds full, as this can cause the food to expand and block the steam release valve.
  • Add liquid: Add enough liquid to the pot to create steam. Most recipes call for at least one cup of liquid.
  • Close the lid: Close the lid and make sure it's locked in place. If your pressure cooker has a gasket, make sure it's properly seated.
  • Set the pressure: Set the pressure on your pressure cooker according to the recipe. Most pressure cookers have two pressure settings: high and low.
  • Start cooking: Turn on the heat or press the cook button on your electric pressure cooker to start cooking. It will take a few minutes for the pressure to build inside the pot.
  • Release the pressure: Once the cooking time is up, release the pressure by either using the quick-release method or the natural release method. Quick-release involves turning the pressure release valve to release the steam, while the natural release method involves letting the pressure release on its own.
  • Open the lid: Once the pressure has been released, open the lid and remove the food from the pot. Be careful as the steam can still be hot and can burn you.

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Tips for Using a Pressure Cooker

  • Always read the manual: Before using your pressure cooker for the first time, read the manual carefully. It will provide you with important safety instructions and specific details on how to use your pressure cooker.
  • Don't overfill the pot: It's essential not to fill the pot more than two-thirds full to prevent food from expanding and blocking the steam release valve.
  • Use enough liquid: Always add enough liquid to create steam. Most recipes call for at least one cup of liquid.
  • Cut food into even pieces: Cutting food into even pieces will ensure that they cook evenly.
  • Use the right pressure setting: Different foods require different pressure settings. High pressure is best for meats and dense vegetables, while low pressure is best for delicate vegetables and seafood.
  • Always use the pressure release valve: Never attempt to open the lid until the pressure has been fully released. Always use the pressure release valve to release the steam.
  • Don't leave your pressure cooker unattended: When cooking with a pressure cooker, it's essential not to leave it unattended. Always keep an eye on the cooking process.
  • Clean your pressure cooker regularly: Clean your pressure cooker regularly to prevent the build-up of food particles, which can affect the performance of your pressure cooker.