What is a Pressure Cooker?
Pressure cookers have made it possible to cook delicious meals in a considerable less amount of time. It is a piece of kitchenware that helps you cook meals, fast and these days, there would hardly be any kitchen, where you will not be able to spot a Pressure Cooker. Basically a Pressure Cooker is an airtight pot, in which the food is cooked, under stream pressure. Not only does using a pressure cooker save you time, but it also provides you with food which tastes better, as it preserves most of the nutrients and minerals of the food.
How Does a Pressure Cooker Work?
The basic principle on which pressure cookers work is quite simple. These cookers are like airtight cooking pots which use the steam to cook food. Whatever liquid is inside the pressure cooker, for example, water, broth, stock etc, the vapors of this liquid are trapped inside the pressure cooker. Since the vapors are trapped, they raise the pressure and temperature inside the pressure cooker. The raised pressure and temperature are what makes these pressure cookers able to speed up the entire cooking process. The key point on which these Pressure Cookers operate is that the higher the pressure, inside the pressure cooker, the lesser will be the time taken by them to cook the food.
As compared to other kitchenware, like stoves/ovens etc, a pressure cooker is able to cook 10 times faster! Not only does it take less time to cook in a pressure cooker, you may even notice a difference in the taste of the food. The food cooked in a microwave oven, will not taste as great as the food cooked in a pressure cooker. Moreover, the food which is cooked in pressure cookers will retain most of its nutrients, as compared to food which is boiled.
How to Use a Pressure Cooker:
Most people are very apprehensive when they are using Pressure Cookers for the first time. If you are a beginner, then you might want to consider the following steps, to ensure that you use the pressure cooker, correctly and safely.
After you have put the food that needs to be cooked in the pressure cooker, pour some water in the cooker. Pouring water inside the pressure cooker will reduce the cooking time. Place the pressure cooker on the stove and close the lid. Remember to take off the safety valve. Once the cooker is heated enough, you will see the steam (because of the water) coming out from the nozzle, upon which you have to put the safety valve on it.
The pressure inside the cooker will eventually rise, till it has reached its safety limit. Reduce the heat so that the cooker can continue to simmer and does not end up whistling. If the heat is not reduced, the pressure will continue to rise till it pops the safety valve open. If the safety valve is opened, the pressure will not rise any further and you do not want this, you need to maintain the pressure throughout the entire cooking time.
The cooking time of course, depends on what food you are cooking in the pressure cooker. Lentils generally tend to take more time to cook, than chicken. Once the cooking time is finished, turn the stove off and allow the pressure cooker to cool. As a safety precaution, you can remove the safety valve to check if there is still any steam left inside the cooker. If there is no steam left inside the cooker, carefully take off the lid and put the cooked food in a serving dish or bowl and you’re done!
Electric Pressure Cooker:
As mentioned earlier, people tend to be a little hesitant in using pressure cookers because they are afraid that they might blow up in their face. However, the electric pressure cookers provide you with a much safer approach and you need not worry about explosions anymore. Their biggest feature is that since they are electric in nature, there is no role of open flame, in the entire cooking process, so you do not have to worry about being burned or anything.
There are various models of the electric pressure cooker in the market today. Each model comes with its own features, some may even serve as a slow cooker!
Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker:
Pressure cookers can be made of aluminum or stainless steel. However, if you want to get most out of your cooking experience, then using a stainless steel pressure cooker is the right choice. Its shiny finish makes it look very modern. It is also scratch resistant, which is another great thing about it. Plus, as compared to aluminum pressure cookers, stainless steel cookers are more durable and longer lasting.
Pressure Cooker Times:
The biggest advantage of using a pressure cooker is that it takes less time to cook food, as compare to other cooking methods. You can cook anything in it, from beans to rice to chicken and beef etc The end results will be tastier and healthier, as pressure cookers tend to retain the nutrients of the cooked food, while simultaneously, killing the bacteria which may be present in the food. However, it should be kept in mind that different pressure cookers will be cooking at different speed. A 15psi (lb) pressure cooker will be able to provide you with the fastest speed possible. A pressure cooker less than 15 lb pressure, will take more time to cook food. Cooking a whole chicken, through a regular cooking method will take you 60 minutes, where as cooking it in a pressure cooker will take you only 20 minutes! Imagine a juicy, succulent chicken in such less time! Soups can be cooked in 12 minutes, Black Beans can be cooked in 10 minutes etc. If you want to know more about how much time a specific food item takes to be cooked using a pressure cooker, you will be able to find a lot of information online. Many sites have proper tables which will give you a fair idea of how much time does it take to cook which food item.
Digital Pressure Cooker:
A digital pressure cooker has a lot of perks, out of which the biggest one is that it can reduce the cooking time to almost 70%! And since it is totally digital, it does not require monitoring, either. You do not have to go checking up on it, every now and then, just set the cooking type and time and you are done. It will start and stop automatically and will even release the pressure on its own.
Buying a digital pressure cooker is almost like to kill two birds with one stone! While the digital pressure cooker does its job on its own, you can do other things, without being bothered about cooking, you can clean the house or complete a pending task, or spend more time with your pets. These digital type pressure cookers are a great option for people who have a busy lifestyle and cannot afford to spend long hours in kitchen, preparing meals. They can simply buy these digital pressure cookers, which would do half of their work for them.
Microwave Pressure Cooker:
Microwave pressure cookers are ideal for people who have small kitchens, as these type of pressure cookers, are very small. Like all other pressure cookers, this one too, saves you time, whilst providing you with tasty, healthy food. Microwave pressure cookers have a simpler design as compared to other pressure cookers. They have a pot and lid which is used to secure the pot. The lid has a valve, which allows the pressure to pass. These pressure cookers also have a regulator which shows it there is still any pressure remaining inside the cooker.
Induction Pressure Cooker:
Induction Pressure Cookers have become very popular because they have so many advantages. As compared to electric and gas stoves, these induction pressure cookers are much safer to use as they are practically flameless. Also, these pressure cookers do not waste any heat, whatever energy is produced, is used for cooking food, thus, they are more efficient. These induction pressure cookers are light, hence can be carried around the kitchen, with ease. They also take less time to heat up and cool down.
Owning a pressure cooker definitely has its benefits. The most prominent advantage is that you can cook the same meal, in lesser time, using a pressure cooker, as compared to other methods. . Imagine a few guests suddenly dropping by at your place, for lunch or dinner! If you have a pressure cooker, you will not be in a fix, as you will be able to cook mouth watering meals in half the time!
However, pressure cookers can be pricey as compared to cooking pots. While you can cook a lot of things in the pressure cooker, there are a few limitations, too. For example, never consider cooking pasta in a pressure cooker because that will be just plain disastrous
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