Spending time in the kitchen to cook meat and lentils is quite a task. You have to spend hours waiting for them to cook thoroughly. But now, a powerful appliance is here to make those dishes in minutes. Yes, we are talking about the pressure cooker.
A pressure cooker is a source of great ease when it comes to cooking time-consuming dishes. They are widely used for cooking meat, stews, cakes, lentils, and many other dishes. If you have been thinking about how to use your pressure cooker and what dishes you can make with it, our article is going to guide you. Let’s proceed to find out.
- 1 What Is a Pressure Cooker?
- 2 Different Types of Pressure Cookers:
- 3 How a Pressure Cooker Works
- 4 Cooking At Different Temperatures and Pressure:
- 5 How You Can Cook With a Pressure Cooker
- 6 What Can Be Cooked in a Pressure Cooker?
- 6.1 How to Prepare Meat and Chicken in a Pressure Cooker?
- 6.2 How to Make Cheesecake?
- 6.3 How to Prepare Rice for a Pressure Cooker?
- 6.4 How to Prepare Beans and Lentils for Cooking in a Pressure Cooker?
- 6.5 How to Prepare Vegetables in a Pressure Cooker?
- 6.6 How to Prepare Soup with a Pressure Cooking?
- 6.7 How to Prepare Seafood for Pressure Cooking?
- 7 Precautionary Steps While Using a Cooker
What Is a Pressure Cooker?
A pressure cooker is an airtight container like a closed vessel that is usually bigger in size than ordinary cooking kettles. It is usually made of washable and durable stainless steel or sometimes aluminum. A large amount of food can be prepared in one go due to the steam building inside which makes the food tender earlier than ordinary cases.
Different Types of Pressure Cookers:
If we consider the different types of the pressure cooker, we can categorize them into three types:
- First type
- Second type
- Electric ones
The First Type of Pressure Cookers:
This is the kind of pressure cooker uses a weight-modified valve which has been in use for ages. This valve releases pressure and you have to note the cooking time afterward. Such type of a pressure cooker has only a single level of pressure, while some later pressure cookers offer variability in the pressure levels.
The Second Type of Pressure Cookers:
This is the second type of second generation pressure cookers which uses spring-loaded valves. These pressure cookers have a built-in mechanism in them which lets you choose the levels of pressure. This is for choosing the pressure level according to the requirement of the cooking item. Instead, they have an indicator showing the level of the pressure reached.
This type of pressure cooker as the name indicates relies on electric power and does not use natural gas as a source. Like the second type, it also has a spring loaded valve and a dial to indicate pressure levels. Moreover, many of them have timers. It helps in keeping the food warm and tender inside the cooker. But, they need a little more precaution while using.
How a Pressure Cooker Works
A pressure cooker works by developing steam pressure inside its pot. The water used in the cooking is converted into steam which raises the temperature of the pressure cooker from the inside. In this way, the steam goes into the food which starts to make it tender.
If you increase the temperature or pressure level, the cooking time will be short and you will have your dish ready in minutes. The high steam can have two major effects:
With the steam, the boiling point increases to a level of 250°F that helps in a faster cooking of food as compared to an ordinary process. High steam raises the pressure, this pressure, steam, and moisture go into your food making it tender much faster.
Cooking At Different Temperatures and Pressure:
As we stated earlier, the pressure inside the cooker raises the boiling temperature of the liquid due to the sealed lid of the pressure cooker. As the pressure increases, the temperature and steam also rise. Our table below will guide you through the pressure inside a cooker and their corresponding temperatures:
|The pressure inside the cooker||Corresponding cooking temperature|
|0 pounds (psi)||100°C (212°F)|
|5 pounds (psi)||104°C (220°F)|
|10 pounds (psi)||113°C (235°F)|
|15 pounds (*psi)||121°C (250°F)|
*psi: pounds per square inch
How You Can Cook With a Pressure Cooker
Cooking in a pressure cooker is not rocket science. A blend of special care and timing ideas can help you cook your desired dishes easily. But before you start to cook in it, make sure that your pressure cooker is clean, not cracked and ready to use.
There should always be a small amount of water with the food. You just can’t put all your food in a pressure cooker and let it cook. You should be specific about how much water you need to use for a particular item. Also, having an idea of the time required to cook is also necessary. You should never fill more than 2/3 of pressure cooker with water because steam will need space, otherwise, it will explode.
Before placing the lid on, remove the safety valve or regulator and then place the lid. Always check that the lid of the cooker is tightly closed and there is no air escaping. Now place the valve and let the pressure cooker cook. After some time, the cooker will gain pressure and the internal process of cooking will begin. The pressure will rise and it will start to simmer the food item inside.
When the pressure is built-up, the valve will jiggle and whistle. Some drops of steam can be seen coming out of the valve. Check the time in this process and turn off the heat if it isn’t up yet. The valve will stop whistling and you can remove it to let the excessive steam come out of the pressure cooker. In the end, remove the lid with care and then you will have your cooked food.
What Can Be Cooked in a Pressure Cooker?
Almost anything! Yes, you can cook almost anything in your pressure cooker. Because the pressure cooker is intended to be a fast cook, it can cook harder items in minutes. If you are worried about your guests coming over, you can always use the help of a pressure cooker. It helps to cook meat items much faster whereas the items like chickpea and beans are ready in less than an hour.
Not only that, but it can also cook meat items in a short time, the pressure cooker is also used for making cakes. If you are an expert in using the pressure cooker or don’t have an oven in the home, you can always use your pressure cooker for cakes. They make exactly the same soft cakes as what would happen in an oven. Later, you can decorate it with any icing that you want.
To prepare some form of seafood, you can also use your pressure cooker. Just place the item in the cooker along with the water required. Add oil if needed to avoid sticking to the base then close the lid, note the time and have tendered prawns, fish, tuna, salmon, and shrimps.
For beans and chickpea, it is advised to soak them in water for 2-4 hours before placing them in the cooker. Later, you can use the cooker to make them tender and cook different types of curries.
You won’t be needing to spend your entire day on tendering stews. Your pressure cooker will help you in making them completely tender.
How to Prepare Meat and Chicken in a Pressure Cooker?
Meat items like beef, stew beef, and lamb require more time cooking compared to chicken. But, before anything you do, it is good to wash them and marinate. You can then put it into the pressure cooker with the desired amount of water and oil if necessary. Another way is tendering the meat at a low level and frying it afterward and this will make it crispy and tender from the inside.
How to Make Cheesecake?
If you don’t have an oven in your home and you want to have cheesecake, you can always use your pressure cooker. You can place it in the cooker with the sponge material in a mold. The batter needs to be in some sort of mold before going into the cooker. Set the timer and take out at the end of the timer, top up with cream, chocolate and cherry on top.
How to Prepare Rice for a Pressure Cooker?
Cooking rice and grains in a pressure cooker requires preparation beforehand. You don’t need to soak rice as it can be cooked in a certain amount of water. But, you should always wash them before placing them in the pressure cooker. Some grains need to be soaked in water before going into the pressure cooker. Grain soaking requires at least 4 hours in warm water.
How to Prepare Beans and Lentils for Cooking in a Pressure Cooker?
You should always soak beans and chickpeas in warm water for about 4-6 hours, otherwise, they will not become tender. After draining, add them in the pressure cooker with the required amount of water and spices. There are different timings for different lentils. Red beans can take up to 1-1.5 hour and others can take only 45 minutes.
How to Prepare Vegetables in a Pressure Cooker?
Fresh vegetables should first be washed thoroughly. You can then place them in the steamer basket or whatever comes with your pressure cooker. Add water to let them cook in the steam of the cooker. If you are using frozen vegetables, defrost them first and then carry out the same method as that of fresh ones.
How to Prepare Soup with a Pressure Cooking?
For make soup in a pressure cooker, you need to have washed and cut vegetables along with small chicken pieces. After this, you can place all the ingredients in the cooker with enough amount of water and spices for the soup. Set the timer and wait for the whistle, your soup is ready.
How to Prepare Seafood for Pressure Cooking?
It is similar to vegetables. You need to wash the seafood items first, then place them in the steamer basket or in the cooker pot with a little amount of oil. This will avoid them from sticking to the pot.
Precautionary Steps While Using a Cooker
- Safety is always important since many users are scared of using pressure cookers. But, with proper precautionary steps, you can have your dishes ready in the best way.
- Understand the pressure level that your pressure cooker supports. Understanding about your cooker is very important especially if you are cooking with it for the first time. As soon as you understand it, it will become easier and faster for you to cook.
- Check your cooker from all sides and make sure that there are no dents and cracks.
- Always pour the water inside no more than 3/4th of the cooker, because the steam will be needing space to cook the food.
- The gasket is the ring of the rubber on the lid. It should have no cracks. It should be the exact size as that of the lid.
- Take special care while cooking frothy foods. They can block the valves of steam.
- Be careful when opening the pressure cooker because steam will try to escape at once and can burn the face or hand if encountered directly. Keep your face away from the cooker as you open the lid.
- Clean your pressure cooker thoroughly after every use. Don’t forget to clean the valves and let them dry before storing it.
Pressure cooking is a great idea when you want a quicker and healthier recipe. Apart from traditional pressure cookers with valves, there are many different types of the cooker with different technical features. They have different qualities, sizes, and features. Using a pressure cooker does not require rocket science. Once you learn how to handle it, it will be a lot easier for you to cook in it as compared to stoves and pans.
There are many companies in the market selling top quality pressure cookers. A six-quart or eight-quart cooker is good size for a family. Apart from traditional ones, there are electric cookers as well, they are safe and work like ordinary cookers.