The Principle of Pressure Cooking
Pressure cooking remains a lifetime discovery in the history of cooking. Rightly, cooking should never take too much of our time. I mean, how much time do we spend enjoying the meal anyway?. It was high time something had to be done to change the narrative. It is necessary that cooking takes a shorter time. Also, all nutritional benefits of our delicacies must be preserved and trapped. Hence, pressure cooking.
Ordinary open-pot cooking is done at the boiling point of water, which produces steam, hot at 100 degrees, translating to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Pressure cooking then works to ensure that this steam is trapped within the cooking chamber to increase cooking pressure and temperature to a controlled extent. The trapped steam, with no choice, saturates the food, infusing it with flavor and redistributing the nutrients that could have escaped through evaporation. And, of course, pressure cooking with pressure cookers cooks foods a lot faster than ordinary open-pot cooking.
A pressure cooker is a sealed chamber that traps the steam generated as its contents are heated. As steam builds up in the pot, pressure increases, driving the boiling point way up and softening your foods faster.
The differences between a Stovetop Pressure Cooker and an Electric Pressure Cooker
You should not have to learn from unpleasant experiences if you have not used a pressure cooker before. There is no doubt that the varying types of pressure cookers have been designed for special and specific suitabilities. The general difference between an Electric and Stovetop pressure cookers is that an electric pressure cooker does not need a lot of monitoring and supervision while working but a Stovetop, on the other hand, needs some more attention like setting timers, etc. while cooking is on.
An electric pressure cooker is a desirable choice for those uncomfortable about fiddling with heat settings while the cooker is working. An electric cooker just makes the automatic adjustments necessary, if necessary, after you may have set it before cooking begins. It is quite a contrary narrative when dealing with a stovetop pressure cooker. You may need to be a tinker and supervise the cooking process for noticeable changes while cooking is ongoing. Other differences between electric and stovetop pressure cookers are discussed below;
Maximum pressure and pressure settings
Most Stovetop pressure cookers have two or more pressure settings- High and Low pressure. The High-Pressure setting is regulated to about 13-15 Pound Per Square Inch, while the Low-Pressure setting is 6-8 Pound per Square Inch, the standard pressure range for any cooking. Most recipe cookbooks write to specify their recipe timing based on this pressure range. In a Stovetop pressure cooker, Pressure selection is achieved by either using a dial that points to 1 (low pressure) or 2 (high pressure) or a marked bar that slowly raises from the cooker while it is reaching pressure – the first mark indicates low pressure, the second mark indicates high pressure.
On the contrary, Electric pressure cookers have varying maximum pressure levels depending on the model. Some Electric pressure cooker models could reach 8,9,10, up to 13 Pressure per Square Inch, while others can not go beyond 6 Pressure per Square Inch. Some have only one pressure setting, while others have two. This means that the pressure cooking time will take longer in an electric vs. a stovetop pressure cooker to achieve the same results.
As mentioned earlier, A Stovetop pressure cooker needs some supervision while working. After some moments of trapping steam, heat level, and pressure significantly increase. This is why it is necessary to stay close to adjust the heat while the stovetop pressure cooker reaches pressure. If you are new to using pressure cookers, it may take a few tries to discover the exact heat setting to keep your cooker from adding too much or too little pressure.
On the other hand, the heat regulation for electric pressure cookers is completely automated. The supervision and constant regulation necessary to keep a Stovetop at an optimal heat and pressure level will not be needed here. You do not need to be around while your electric pressure cooker builds pressure. You only need to select the desired pressure or program, cooking time, and hit start.
Timer, Scheduling Features, and Cooking Programs
While a stovetop pressure cooker is at pressure, it is important to keep perfect timing and know when heat or pressure regulation is due. Unfortunately, most stovetop pressure cookers do not have cooking programs or integrated timing devices. These cookers require a separate timing device to keep track of cooking time. An example of such a timing device is an induction burner. If a Stovetop pressure cooker is used with an induction burner, the timer on the burner can semi-automate a stovetop cooker.
The most modern electric pressure cookers feature micro-computer-controlled smart cooking programs that interact with a pressure sensor and thermostat. Hence, this integrated timing system keeps track of cooking time while the cooker is under pressure. In addition to this feature, most electric pressure cookers allow for a delayed and scheduling start for up to 12 hours or less, depending on the cooker model.
Pressure Cooker Opening Methods
While stovetop pressure cookers take a little less time to release pressure, electric pressure cookers take relatively time. Normal release in a Stovetop pressure cooker takes about 2 minutes, while natural release takes 10 minutes. Electric pressure cookers, on the hand, take about 3 minutes and 25 minutes for normal and natural release, respectively.
Materials and Durability
Stovetop pressure cookers are very durable, they can last up to 20 years. They are so durable because a significant part of their body is made of Stainless steel and Alumininum. The materials make stovetops almost indestructible.
Most electric pressure cookers are made of thermal-resistant plastic on the exterior, however, the interior liner is most often made of aluminium and a non-stick coating. Hence, it is necessary for user to excecise some caution when using any pointy utensils in the pot. Pot scratching is highly discouraged as it could scrape off the interior coating. However today, many models are coming out with stainless steel, anodized aluminum and ceramic-coated interiors Largely becuase users report electronic failures within the first three years of use.
If you are a newbie to pressure cooking, wondering how to use pressure cooker step by step, this section below is for you. Below you will find detailed information on how to optimally use your Stovetop and electric pressure cookers. Note that the guidelines provided below are effective for both modern and some old fashioned pressure cooker
Inspect your cooker
Whether or not you are a first time user of a pressure cooker, the inspection of your pressure cooker before you commence cooking will not only save you ffrom consuming harmful substance like dirt, it also helps make sure that your cooking is effective. The specific places to check during your inspection are the silicon cover lids or the rubber gasket on the cooker. It is also important to run a check on the regulators too, to make sure that they are not broken.
Checking the cover lids and rubber gasket may help uncover some dirts or food particles that may be lurking in there. During your inspection, you may even be shocked to discover that the gasket has a tear. In these cases, the pressure cooker will not function optimally as it will not be able to apply enough pressure to its content, making the cooking process inefective.
Add Liquid with Ingridient
This is relatively most important step in using your pressure cooker. Pressure cooking is a wet cooking method and you should never try to cook anything in a pressure cooker without at least a 2cm layer of liquid in the bottom of it. You can add almost any liquid including, milk, wine, broth and of course water but not oil. Small amount of oil can be use in a pressure cooker with other liquid like water and milk but never alone.
Do not also forget to add your primary ingredients to your cooker, just make sure that the cooker is not more than 2/3 full.
Lock the Pot and set the Operating Valve
Once you have now inspected your cooker and added liquid and ingridients, you are ready to begin cooking. It is essential to correctly lock the top lid to the base of the pot to ensure it is sealed, if the cooker is not properly locked, it will not be able to build the steam required to generate enough pressure for cooking. Most Stovetop pressure cookers have interlocking covers that easily slides lock together. This mechanism helps the pot stay sealed.
For electric pressure cookers and some Stovetop pressure cookers, once the cooker is locked, select a cooking level. You may select level 2, which is high pressure – this is standard any time you are cooking meats or similar foods. Low level pressure is typically used for steaming delicate foods like vegetables or fish.
Temperature and Pressure Indicator Setting
Now turn your stovetop to high heat as soon as the locker is properly jammed. After a while of jamming the locker, the liquid inside the pot will start to boil. Keep watch over your cooker. Once forceful steam begins to escape and the pressure indicator pops-up or lights, your cooking time now begins. Now, reduce the temperature to a medium low setting. Slow, steady steam will now emit from the cooker, and the indicator will stay popped up or lit. If at any time the indicator goes off, or there is no steam escaping, you need to increase your heat. Conversely, if forceful steam is emitting from the cooker, reduce the heat.
Releasing Pressure and finishing up
Consult your recipe or Cookbook for accurate timing. As soon as it your cooking is complete, release preasure from the cooker!. You can release pressure from the cooker in the following ways;
Through natural release: This method is suitable for high-liquid foods, as well as meats and other foods that aren’t at risk of overcooking. You simply leave the cooker alone and let the pressure come down naturally. This process can take anywhere from 5 to 20 or more minutes depending on your cook time and how full your cooker is.
Through Quick release: This method is suitable for foods with shorter cook times like some vegetables and seafood. For both Stovetop cookers and electric cookers, press the steam release valve once cooking is complete, however, while doing this, you need to be quick enough to get your hand or any other parts of your body away from the pressurized steam that forcefully escapes from the pot. Also, make sure that there no obstruction of any sort in the pathway of the escaping steam.
Through Cold-Water Release: This is the fastest method for stovetop pressure cookers and a good option when you want to stop the cooking quickly. However, DO NOT use this method with electric pressure cookers or you stand the risk of eletrocution. For stovetop models, place the pressure cooker in the sink. Hold the cooker at a slight angle and run cold water over the outer edge of the lid so that it flows over the lid and down the sides.
What to consider when buying a Stovetop pressure cooker
Size is an important consideration when you are looking to buy a new Stovetop pressure cooker or any pressure cooker at all. To put into perspective, it is certainly ill-advised for a single young man to go for an extremely large sized pressure cooker when all he cooks for is himself. In the same vein, it can not be a wise decision for a large family to go for a pressure cooker that is small-sized.
Your Cooktop type
Your cooktop type is a crucial consideration to be made when you are buying a new Stovetop pressure cooker. First off, the knowledge of the difference between a stovetop and range top is crucial. Some pressure cookers cant be used on induction cooktops, they won’t just fit. Hence, it is necessary to Make sure you read the specs so you don’t waste time purchasing a stovetop pressure cooker than can’t be used with your stove.
Materials of your Pressure Cooker
Stovetop pressure cookers are made of various materials with varying qualities. If you want something that will last for a long time, make sure that it is made out of materials that withstand the type of use you plan on putting it through. Pressure cookers made of stainless steel and Aluminum are almost indestructible, hence you can choose any of those. Pressure cookers with non-stick coating on the inside will also afford some ease in cleaning. Watch out for this feature if you want to spend less time washing your pressure cookers.
The best Stovetop Pressure Cookers
The Presto 01781 Pressure Canner and Cooker comes with is an incredibly durable stovetop pressure cooker. It comes with a whooping 12 year extended warranty that will replace any parts that might break over the years. This pressure cooker also has very airtight seals. It has an extra-large capacity with the 23 quarts version that will allow you to pressure cook the largest of items. Perhaps, the prettiest feature of this pressure cooker is that it works on all cooktops. Now you don’t have to worry about fitting it on your inductuction burners.
The All-American Pressure Cooker/Canner is your best bet if you are are a cooker on budget. This pressure cooker is made with a vry unique style. It is the only model out there that dont use gasket. This pressure cooker also has an easy to read geared steam guage
What Can You Cook in a Pressure Cooker?
Almost any delicacy can be cooked in a pressure cooker but most people use it for foods that take longer time to cook, using conventional means. Hence, some of the foods usually cooked in a pressure cooker include the following; Beans, Tough cuts of meat – including beef, pork, Squash, Rice, Pasta etc.
Are pressure cookers safe?
Pressure cookers have had negative reputation in the past, with stories of them exploding across the kitchen. However, today’s models have built-in safety features to give you peace of mind while you’re cooking.
What are the benefits of a pressure cooker?
Pressure cookers as an alternative to traditional way of cooking help make food softer when cooked. They also take a shorter time to cook, while trapping the nutrients in the food.
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