Those who lead a busy life and often cook in a hurry will appreciate any time-saving kitchen appliance.
The pressure cooker is the number one gadget for people who want to slice huge chunks off the cooking time of Meat, Pulses and Sauces.
From Ribs that fall off the bone, to stew, casserole or braised Meat, a pressure cooker can achieve great results in under an hour. A Risotto can be on the table in half the usual time, with very little stirring.
How does a pressure cooker work?A pressure cooker looks like a regular pot but has a modified lid that locks on over a rubber gasket to create a seal.
The cooker works by raising the temperature of boiling water, thereby speeding up the time it takes to boil, braise, or steam.
To use a pressure cooker, you put the food in the pot with some liquid-usually a minimum of 2 cups to build up sufficient steam pressure.
Once the lid is locked in place and the cooker is set on high heat, steam develops in the pot and can’t escape.
The trapped steam increases the atmospheric pressure inside the cooker by 15 pounds per square inch (psi), or 15 pounds above normal sea-level pressure.
At that pressure, the boiling point of water is increased from 212°F to 250°F. This higher temperature is what cooks food faster.
Once the cooker has reached full pressure, usually indicated by a gauge or pop-up rod on the lid, a release valve opens, letting out steam in a regulated flow to maintain a constant temperature inside the pot.
Speed isn't the only advantage of pressure cookers - they also preserve nutrients and vitamins, as well as being a more economical way to cook.
How to use a pressure cooker
While they are invaluable when it comes to braising, stewing and transforming tough Cuts of Meat, and cooking ingredients like dried pulses from scratch, pressure cookers are less successful with delicate foods like fish or green veg, as they use such a high heat.
How pressure cooking saves money
• Food cooks in around a third of the usual time, so you use less fuel.
• If you favour Thriftier Cuts of Meat over more quick-to-cook (and pricier) Cuts, this is where your pressure cooker will help, by stewing or braising in about the same time it takes to roast or pan-fry.
What are the best foods to cook in a pressure cooker and why? Pressure cooking is a moist-heat cooking method, so foods that taste good boiled, braised, or simmered work best.
Good options include soups, stews, and stocks; dried beans, whole grains, risotto, and polenta; dense Vegetables like Beets and Carrots; and Meats you might otherwise consider for braising, like Beef Chuck, Pork Shoulder, or Chicken Cuts.
Pressure cooking these foods causes their proteins to denature, their starches to gelatinize, and their fibres to soften in about one-third the time they would under normal atmospheric pressure.
Pressure Cookers are now Fail-Safe. In the 1950s, pressure cookers were commonplace in, but stories of cookers exploding because of improper sealing scared people off.
All pressure cookers are now fail-safe.