Pressure cooking is pleasure cooking – part 2

A pressure cooker is a great way to cook food quickly and with lots of flavor.

Pictured above is an electric pressure cooker. Electric cookers are well insulated so the exterior do not get as hot as a stove-top model.
Pictured above is an electric pressure cooker. Electric cookers are well insulated so the exterior do not get as hot as a stove-top model.

Both stove-top and electric programmable pressure cookers are valuable kitchen tools that save you energy, time and money. Pressure cookers are very safe when used as intended and will cook food quickly while maintaining flavor.

Michigan State University Extension offers the following pressure cooker tips for both stove-top and electric pressure cookers (unless stated otherwise in the manufacturer instructions):

  • It is crucial that the vent pipe is clean for stove-top models. You should be able to look through the vent pipe and see light. If you can’t, then you need to clean it thoroughly. The easiest way to do that is to soak the lid so that anything in the pipe is soft. Next, run a pipe cleaner (used for crafts) through the vent pipe.
  • Filling the pressure cooker: a rule of thumb is to fill a pressure cooker only two-thirds of the full, but when cooking foods that expand, like beans and rice fill it only half-way. Never overfill a pressure cooker.
  • Pressure cookers can cook almost anything but they are especially nice for foods or recipes that require long cooking times. For example, pressure cookers are capable of cooking tough cuts of meat to a tender state so that it falls off the bone in a matter of minutes, as opposed to taking several hours to cook to get the same tenderness. 
  • When water is dripping down the sides of a stove-top cooker and it is ''not coming up to pressure that tells you that you need to replace the sealing ring.
  • When you replace the sealing ring on a stove-top pressure cooker also replace the overpressure plug. Usually they are sold together in the same package. An electric pressure cooker does have a sealing ring but doesn’t have an overpressure plug.
  • When done using your pressure cooker wash the pot, lid and gasket in a sink with warm, soapy water and then rinse it. Make sure it is completely dry before putting it away.
  • The best way to store your pressure cooker is putting the lid upside down on top of the pot.
  • Use some sort of liquid like water, broth or juice when using your pressure cooker. You can brown meats in the pressure cooker first, but then add liquid before sealing the lid and building pressure. The liquid is needed to build up steam to cook the food. 
  • When you put hot liquids or foods in the pressure cooker it will come to pressure more quickly than when starting out with cold liquids and foods.
  • Don’t leave the pressure cooker unattended. On stove-top models you need to keep an eye on the pressure regulator so that when pressure has built up and the regulator starts rocking you can maintain a constant slow rock.
  • Never open the lid of any pressure cooker until the pressure has completely dropped.

Regardless of whether you prefer a stove-top or electric model, you now know that they can be a very quick and safe method to cook food.

Read the first part of this article, Pressure cooking is pleasure cooking – part 1.

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