Anything that gets food on the table and me out of the kitchen faster gets a two thumbs-up from me. A pressure cooker does just that. What a slow cooker takes all day to do, a pressure cooker can do in under an hour. Each cooker earns its space in the kitchen, but if fast is what you want, invest in a quality pressure cooker and you’ll never go back to slow cooking.
A pressure cooker traps the steam that is escaping from the boiling water inside the pot. The trapped steam increases the internal pressure and speeds up cooking time by raising the boiling point. The typical boiling point is 212 degrees, inside a pressure cooker the boiling point is raised to 250 degrees.
By adjusting the stove temperature, you control the pressure and cooking times. The temperature adjusts to low, medium and high with a weighted gauge geared to 5 pounds of pressure which is 220 degrees and low heat. 10 pounds of pressure which is 235 degrees and medium heat or 15 pounds of pressure which is 250 degrees and high heat.
Low pressure is rarely used in a pressure cooker, since it is barely above the boiling point. Medium pressure is occasionally used and high pressure is almost always used. A few typical cooking times are: 45 minutes for large beef or pork roasts, 25 minutes for dry beans, 15 minutes for stew meat or brown rice and whole potatoes or winter squash will cook in 5 minutes.
Since using a pressure cooker requires less time and energy, it is a perfect kitchen tool to be used for green cooking. You can save up to 70 percent of gas or electricity using a pressure cooker instead of a roasting pan, stock pot or slow cooker. Less cooking fuel used, more money saved.
The All Important Taste
Certainly taste is the bottom line of any cooking tool and a pressure cooker passes the taste test. The French culture put haute cuisine on the culinary map and they are ones who invented the pressure cooker in the 1600s. Great tasting food comes out of a pressure cooker. The pressure seals in and intensifies the flavor, allowing for the use of less salt and other seasoning.
Types of Pressure Cookers
A standard pressure cooker for every day meals is about 6-8 quarts and holds enough food to feed a family of four with leftovers. Larger pressure cookers are available, but are typically used for canning, though mine does serve double duty by sometime cooking large cuts of meat.
Heavy gauge stainless steel is the best material as it will not discolor or change the flavor of food like aluminum does.
Pressure cookers have locking lids and safety values to prevent accidents, so there is no fear in using one when all the directions are followed.