Pressure Cooker Buying Tips

Whether you realize it or not, a pressure cooker is one of the most important kitchen appliances to have around. This cooking gadget can shorten your cooking time as it can cook food up to 3 times faster than if you were to use an ordinary pot or pan.

You know how fast it is to cook delicate varieties of vegetables, right? Well, such types of crops cook even faster if you’re using a pressure cooker. As for those types of vegetables that are a bit tough, like beans and potatoes, these can be cooked in a pressure cooker faster too.

What about tough meats? Well, meat products that usually take about an hour to cook can be done in just about 15 minutes if you’re using a pressure cooker. As for the results, it is also guaranteed that the final outcome is tender and juicy.

There are other benefits of using a pressure cooker aside from its fast cooking capabilities. For one, the high temperature inside the cooking pot can kill even the deadliest microorganisms. Yes, nothing can stand the heat inside a pressure cooker.

If you’re thinking about buying a pressure cooker for the very first time, this guide will help you understand the principles of pressure cooking. And if you’re planning to upgrade your old pressure cooker, this short report will also help you understand which features are really important in this type of cooking device.

By understanding how a pressure cooker works and by finding out how you can maximize its use, you will surely benefit from this wonderful and amazing kitchen appliance.

Knowing how to choose the right unit for your particular needs and requirements will also ensure that you’ll end up with the best pressure cooker.

So, what are you waiting for? Get to know everything about a pressure cooker and make an informed decision before buying one.

How Does a Pressure Cooker Work?

The principle behind a pressure cooker is simple and easy to understand. The sealed system is responsible for cooking the food inside the pot through steam and pressure.

This type of cooking device requires the use of water and other liquid components in order to work. As the liquid element inside the cooking pot boils, steam is created in a sealed environment. This steam produces pressure that affects the food inside the pot directly.

A pressure of 15psi (Pounds per Square Inch) is typically required of recipes that are cooked in a pressure cooker. The amount of pressure produced in this setting enables the food to cook quickly. Note that the maximum temperature of water at its boiling point is only 212 degrees Fahrenheit; and even if the temperature from the heat source is increased, said temperature can’t get any higher in an unsealed environment.

By using a pressure cooker, the trapped steam can cause the temperature inside the cooking pot to increase up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The 38-degree difference can significantly speed up cooking time up to 3 times faster.

How to Use a Pressure Cooker

Familiarizing yourself with the operating procedures involved in using a pressure cooker will allow you to use this kitchen appliance efficiently. By employing basic pressure cooking techniques, you’ll get to enjoy more delicious and nutritious foods that are prepared quickly.

Pressure Cooker Must Be in Good Working Order

First of all, make sure that your pressure cooker is in good working condition before using it. This will ensure safety and proper cooking of food as well.

Check on the Valve and Vent Pipe

Check on the pressure cooker’s valve to see if it’s moving freely. The vent pipe shouldn’t be obstructed in any way too.

Check the Handles

It’s also important to check on the handle in order to make sure that it’s solidly attached to the pressure cooker. A defective handle on a cooking pot is an accident waiting to happen.

Inspect the Gasket

Inspect the pressure cooker’s gasket and look for signs of brittleness, cracks, or deterioration. If you see any of those things, don’t use the pressure cooker until you get that part replaced.

Use Timing Charts and Release Methods

When cooking with a pressure cooker, use the accompanying timing charts and release methods for the types of food that you are preparing. Different recipes require different amounts of fluids, cooking duration, and proportions, so be sure to follow those.

Know How to Use Liquid Elements

Note that liquid components are required in order to generate steam inside a pressure cooker. This will depend on the cooking time and cooking method required for a particular meal. In general, at least 1/2 cup of water is needed when cooking food in the usual manner. For meals that take more than 15 minutes to cook, higher amount of liquid is required.

Know the Right Level

Make it a point that the entire pressure cooker is not filled up to the rim of the pot, as it needs space to build up steam. The maximum amount of raw food inside the cooking pot should not exceed 2/3 of its total capacity. And if you’re cooking foods that foam and froth such as rice and beans, you can only fill the pressure cooker up to 1/2 full. These ingredients need more room for steam because they expand.

Understand the Method of Pressurizing

It’s important to understand the method of pressurizing when cooking in a pressure cooker. After putting in the ingredients for your recipe and locking the lid, you can start cooking. Put the pressure cooker on a stove burner that has the same size as the base of the cooking pot for efficient distribution of heat. Turn the heat setting on high until the cooking pot is pressurized.

Look at the pressure indicator to see if it has already reached 15psi. If so, you can turn the source of heat down as the pressure cooker can maintain the temperature inside the cooking pot from this point on.

Opening the Lid

Before opening the pressure cooker’s lid, make sure that it has completely depressurized. This can be done by looking at the pressure indicator as you will see in the reading that the pressure has already dropped. And additional test can be done just to be sure; so move the pressure regulator to see if steam is still escaping from the cooking pot.

If there’s no steam escaping from the pressure cooker, this means that it has completely depressurized. You can unlock and open the lid safely by tipping it away from you so as to avoid any remaining steam from the cookware.

Performing De-pressurizing Methods

When cooking time is up, you need to depressurize the pressure cooker; and this can be done by employing different methods. If your pressure cooker has a quick pressure release knob, you can use this to depressurize the cooking pot. Be aware, however, that this method should not be used on foods that have foam or froth.

For the types of food that quickly cook, you can use the cold water method so as to stop further cooking. Just bring the pressure cooker to the sink and put it under running water to accomplish this task. This procedure stops the cooking process immediately so that delicate ingredients such as fruits and vegetables are not overcooked.

If the recipe calls for it, natural depressurizing can also be employed. By removing the pressure cooker from the source of heat, the food inside the cooking pot will still continue to cook, but in a slow manner. This method is typically applied to recipes that have tough ingredients like meat, potatoes, and beans.

Cleaning Your Pressure Cooker

Soaking your pressure cooker in warm water after using it will make it easier to scrub and clean. Proper maintenance of the cookware will also preserve its good looks and prolong its life.

What Can I Cook in a Pressure Cooker?

Although pressure cookers are very useful for quickly tenderizing tough meats, it is a versatile cookware that can handle different types of recipes. You can cook delicate types of ingredients in a pressure cooker, such as fruits and vegetables; but tough vegetables like potatoes can be cooked in minutes in this type of cooking device too. Steamed or pouched fruits and vegetables can also be used as baby food or desserts.

Stews and curries, which are very easy to prepare, are also done much faster when cooked in a pressure cooker. Rice and risotto recipes also come out great when cooked in this type of pot.

You can also use a pressure cooker uncovered. This way, you can brown meat, vegetables, and other ingredients before putting in the required liquid component.

Types of Pressure Cooker

The main types of pressure cooker are electric and stove-top. You can also choose a pressure cooker that’s made of aluminum materials or stainless steel.

Stove Top Vs Electric Pressure Cooker

Stove top pressure cookers are more popular than the electric type. This is the typical type of pressure cooker and its efficiency has been proven again and again. If you purchase a good quality stove top pressure cooker, there’s a good chance that it will last for a very long time.

Electric pressure cookers are quite new on the market; and novice buyers are sometimes attracted to it because electrical appliances are generally easy to use. However, there are a lot of issues connected to the use of electric pressure cookers.

The control options in electric pressure cookers are not as effective as the old fashioned stove-top types. And because of this, cooking delicate ingredients can be a problem. Moreover, electric types of pressure cookers usually have small capacities; so your options are already limited in that aspect.

Here’s the real deal breaker when it comes to getting an electric pressure cooker. This type of cookware usually has short warranties; and that in itself, is indicative of a problem. Electric pressure cookers are not as durable and long lasting as stove top pressure cookers.

Aluminum Vs Stainless Steel

First time buyers of pressure cookers usually get an aluminum type because it’s lightweight and inexpensive. Actually, one of the main advantages of an aluminum pressure cooker is that it cooks food evenly because said material is a good conductor of heat. However, aluminum is generally weak, especially when exposed to high temperatures; so you can expect early wear and tear from this type of cooking appliance.

There are health issues tied up with the use of aluminum on food preparation too. Exposure to aluminum is linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease; and although there are no sufficient evidences to fully back this up, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Your other choice is a stainless steel pressure cooker. Although this is heavier than aluminum and is more expensive than an aluminum pressure cooker, it has a lot of benefits.

Stainless steel is very durable; and constant exposure to high temperatures will not affect it. In fact, stainless steel appliances are known to last a lifetime that it can be handed down to future generations.

The only downside to a stainless steel pressure cooker is that this is not a very good conductor of heat. And because of this, there can be hot spots that can lead to uneven cooking of food.

In order to avoid hot spot problems, choose a stainless steel pressure cooker that has a layered base. With a disc of aluminum situated at the bottom of the pressure cooker, heat is spread evenly while cooking food.

Size of Pressure Cooker

It’s important to choose the right size of pressure cooker when buying one. If you get the wrong size of cookware for your needs, it will not be as useful to you. On the other hand, getting the right size of pressure cooker will make the unit extremely useful in the kitchen, as it can help you in preparing different types of food conveniently and easily.

The size of a pressure cooker is indicative of the amount of liquid that it can hold. However, that doesn’t mean that you can use the entire space of the cooking pot. Keep in mind that food in a pressure cooker is cooked through steam and pressure; and it needs ample space to perform this function efficiently.

The content of your pressure cooker will also depend on the type of food that you are cooking. Ingredients that foam and expand need more space than other types of ingredients. That’s why raw food inside a pressure cooker should only occupy 1/2 up to a maximum of 2/3 of the pot’s total capacity.

In general, it is more advisable to get a big pressure cooker than a small one. The reason for this is that you can prepare small amounts of food in a big pot, but you can’t cook big portions of food in a small cooking device.

You can consider getting a 4-quart pressure cooker if you typically prepare a 1-course meal at a time. Singles and couples usually find this size of pressure cooker sufficient for their needs.

6-quart pressure cookers are the most popular of all sizes of pressure cookers because of its versatility. This is big enough to prepare meals for a large family; and recipes usually call for the use of this size of pressure cooker too.

Of course, you can also get an 8-quart pressure cooker if you have a really big family. With this size of pressure cooker, you can even prepare meals in advance and store them in the fridge for later consumption.

Although those with 4, 6, and 8-quart capacities are the most common sizes of pressure cookers, you can also opt for bigger models. For really large preparations of food, you can get 16, 18, and 23-quart pressure cookers.

Energy Efficiency

A pressure cooker is an energy efficient kitchen appliance mainly because it cooks food really fast. It therefore saves you time and energy when you constantly utilize this type of cookware when preparing meals for your family.

Good quality pressure cookers can also last for a long time even with minimal care, so investing on a model that has high quality is an intelligent decision. Even if you purchase an expensive model, it will pay for itself after a few uses.

Avoiding Non-Stick Pressure Cookers

There are non-stick models of pressure cookers; and while these are great for preparing some recipes, it is not that advisable for a pressure cooker. Keep in mind that non-stick surfaces don’t last for a long time; and the small particles from the non-stick coating can blend with your food too. There are health issues linked to the consumption these particles, so it’s best to just avoid exposure to said materials.

Important Features of a Pressure Cooker

Knowing the important features of pressure cookers will help you choose the perfect unit for your needs. This will also ensure that you’re getting a unit that’s safe to use in your kitchen.

Pressure Cooker Regulator

Your pressure cooker should have a regulator as this will control the pressure inside the pot while cooking food. It should at least be capable of an operating pressure of 15 psi as this is the standard requirement when cooking food in a pressure cooker. There are 3 types of valves that can regulate pressure; namely, weighted valve, modified weighted valve, and spring valve.

If a pressure cooker uses a weighted valve, you will see it standing on top of the cookware’s vent pipe. The valve releases steam through the vent pipe so as to maintain the cooking pressure inside the pot. During this time, the valve jiggles and rocks while releasing steam.

Pressure cookers with modified weighted valves release steam in a different manner. In order to maintain the pressure inside the pot, the unit will release bursts of steam at random intervals.

Those pressure cookers that are equipped with a spring valve have a different design. You will see a short valve that pops up to show you the current level of pressure inside the pot.

Cover Interlock

Having a cover interlock is another important feature in a pressure cooker. With this device, pressure can be released from the pot even if the vent pipe is blocked while in the process of cooking. It’s a safety mechanism that should be present in a pressure cooker so as to avoid burnt foods and other types of accidents.

Cooking Rack

A cooking rack or a basket situated at the top portion of the cooking pot is a helpful feature in a pressure cooker. If a unit has this, it will allow you to cook another type of food above the boiling liquid. Having separate areas for cooking food will also help to avoid intermingling of food while cooking several types in one setting.

Pressure Indicator

As a pressure cooker has to operate on at least 15psi, it needs an accurate pressure indicator so as to allow you to monitor the level of pressure inside the pot. You cannot effectively use a pressure cooker without this feature as it will be like operating the unit blindly.

Pressure Release

A quick pressure release knob is a useful feature to have in a pressure cooker. With this device, depressurizing is done by releasing sprays of hot steam from the pot. This is a good feature to have when recipes call for extra ingredients to be added in the middle of a cooking procedure.

There are other methods of depressurizing that won’t require this feature, however, such as the cool-at-once method. This procedure requires that the pressure cooker is placed in a pan of cold water or under cold running water to stop the cooking process inside the pot.

Natural pressure release can be adopted too, if required by the recipe. This simply involves removing the pressure cooker from the source of heat so that the pressure inside the pot can drop naturally. This method is used for the types of food that still need to be cooked inside in order to complete the process of cooking.

Handles

A pressure cooker’s handle is another one of its many important features. A secure and fitting handle makes for a safe cooking environment as it may be necessary to carry the pot from one place to another while it’s hot.

An ergonomically designed handle also makes it comfortable on the hands. This lessens hand fatigue while cooking.

For pressure cookers that have 6-quart capacities or higher, it is recommended that models with 2 handles are chosen over 1-handle models. Having 2 handles on opposite sides of the pot makes it easier to handle and carry around.

Base

The design of the base part of a pressure cooker is also an important factor to consider when looking out to buy this type of kitchen appliance. A stainless steel pressure cooker should have a bi-metal or tri-metal base in order for it to be efficient in cooking food. Getting one with an aluminum-clad base provides for better heat conduction so that scorching and hot spots can be avoided.

Safety Features

An overpressure can occur inside a pressure cooker unexpectedly, which can be dangerous. For this reason, getting models with additional safety measures such as an overpressure device can help save the day. This way, excess steam can be released when there is too much pressure inside the cooking pot.

Instruction Manual

A high quality pressure cooker also comes with a good instruction manual. You will be able to see a model’s features by carefully reading its accompanying brochure. Moreover, reading the proper steps of operating the unit will also ensure safe usage of the product.

Warranty

A unit’s warranty will indicate its manufacturer’s confidence in their product. As pressure cookers, particularly the stove-top types are typically long lasting, warranties of about 10 years can be expected. The longer the warranty, the more confident you will be of its overall quality.

Cost

The costs of pressure cookers vary as different brands carry different features and designs. As the price often determines a product’s quality, getting a unit that’s priced above $100 is recommended. Consider this as an investment; and save on getting the best pressure cooker that you can afford.

How to Choose the Best Brand of Pressure Cooker

When choosing a brand of pressure cooker, get one from a Company that’s reputable in the industry. Having a good track record for many years indicates that the manufacturer is already established in the business and that it won’t suddenly disappear or go bankrupt.

Products from respectable Companies are usually long lasting too. And in the case of a pressure cooker, it has been known that this type of cookware can literally last for a lifetime, especially the stainless steel models. However, some of the parts in a pressure cooker may not be as durable; so these may need to be replaced after every couple of years. You would therefore want to get a brand that has stocks of parts and accessories for your pressure cooker.

If possible, you can also get a brand and model that has been approved by an independent testing organization. In the USA, the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a recognized body. Products that carry the UL mark means that the product has been tested for quality and performance by the independent organization.

Things to Consider When Buying a Pressure Cooker

When buying a pressure cooker, consider the features that each model carries. Needless to say, a unit with a lot of features is more versatile and useful than a model with a simple design.

The size of your pressure cooker is of utmost importance too, as this allows you to make the most of this cooking device. If you are not sure about the size of pressure cooker that’s suitable for you, get a model that has a 6-quart capacity, since this is the standard requirement for basic recipes. It’s big enough to prepare meals for a medium size family and it’s not that hard to store too.

Of course, you also need to consider your budget when buying a pressure cooker; and this applies to any type of purchases. However, in the case of a pressure cooker, it would be good to save up for it so that you can afford to buy a high quality model.

Why Should You Buy a Pressure Cooker?

A pressure cooker is a versatile kitchen appliance as it can cook delicious food quickly. If you are always preparing meals for your family, it will really make your life easier if you have a pressure cooker. It actually makes for a great gift idea too. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of having a pressure cooker in your kitchen.

Saves Time and Money

Using a pressure cooker for cooking can save you time and money as this can reduce cooking time dramatically. A 2-kg chicken, for example, can be totally cooked in just about 15 minutes when you cook this in a pressure cooker. In traditional methods of cooking, it can take an hour or so to cook a whole chicken of that size.

Healthy Cooking

Conventional types of cooking pots usually require a lot of water to cook food; and this can diminish the amount of nutrients that are naturally contained in the ingredients. It is not the same with a pressure cooker, as it only requires a small amount of water during the process of cooking because it uses hot steam and pressure to cook food inside the pot.

More vitamins and minerals are therefore retained when you use this type of cooking device. Furthermore, being in a sealed environment minimizes the food’s exposure to air. Evaporation of nutrients through oxidation is therefore minimized as well.

Flavorful and Juicy Meals

Since oxidation and evaporation is minimized when using a pressure cooker, the final results will always be juicy. The sealed environment can lock in the food’s natural flavors too. In a conventional pot, your meals can dry out and lose its flavor.

Kills Harmful Microorganisms

The heat inside a pressure cooker can effectively kill harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. The temperature inside a pressure cooker can reach as high as 250 degrees Fahrenheit; and this can kill microbes in just a few minutes.

Cooler and Cleaner Kitchen

One of the many advantages of using a pressure cooker is that it can reduce the amount of heat in your kitchen while cooking. Since it uses an air-tight lid, the heat stays inside the pot instead of spreading in your kitchen. Moreover, having a well-sealed lid also traps the smell of food while keeping your kitchen mess-free as well.

Save on Space

Even if you decide on getting a high capacity pressure cooker, it won’t take any unnecessary spaces in your kitchen. Note that this type of cookware also functions as a pot or pan, so you don’t need to have as many cooking devices. Moreover, 3-course meals such as appetizers, desserts, and main meals can all be prepared in a pressure cooker.

How Much Should You Spend on a Pressure Cooker?

In order to end up with a quality pressure cooker, you should be ready to spend at least $100 for it. Those that are priced below that point may not be as durable and long lasting.

If you can afford it, you can spend up to $500 for a pressure cooker with a lot of features and a long warranty. It’s really a useful kitchen appliance, so it’s well worth it.

Where to Buy a Pressure Cooker

A pressure cooker is a popular kitchen appliance, so you can basically buy it anywhere. You can check out the cookware section of department stores which carry different brands and models of pressure cookers.

Here we have gathered reviews on various pressure cookers making it easier for you to search through different brands and models right in your living room. You can even compare features and prices without leaving your home.