Pressure cookers are a fantastic kitchen essential. Not only do they cook food in a flash, but they also keep all those vital minerals and vitamins that are often lost during other cooking methods. Cooking with a pressure cooker for the first time can be a little daunting. This quick guide to cooking with a pressure cooking will have you cooking like a pro in no time.
How Does a Pressure Cooker Work?
When in use, the pressure cooker will boil the water to create steam. This trapped steam will then cook your food at a much quicker rate, resulting in healthier food for your plate.
It is wise to check your cooker for any cracks. The whole point of the pressure cooker is to trap the steam within. Any cracks will release the steam and can result in burning you when you handle the cooker. Check the locks and the rubber sealing ring for any damage before use.
Water is a Must
Whatever it is you plan on cooking in your pressure cooker, you must always add water. Most pressure cooker recipes will require a certain amount of water to be added. Fill the cooker with no more than 2/3 of water, or the cooker will have no room for the expanding steam. Always check your cooker’s manual before use as cookers will vary with their amount of water needs.
Dry beans, pearl barley, and wheat will need to be soaked for 4 hours before cooked in the pressure cooker. Rice and oats do not require any soaking. Meat can be seasoned and browned directly in the pressure cooker, without the lid, or in a frying pan if preferred. Seafood and fish must be cooked in the steamer basket. Add a little oil to the basket to avoid sticking. Wash all fresh vegetables and fruits before placing in the steamer basket, and let any frozen vegetables and fruits defrost before cooking.
How to Cook with the Pressure Cooker
Once all the food you wish to cook with the pressure cooker has been properly prepared, place the items inside the cooker, and add the correct amount of water. Place the lid on the cooker, and secure it properly. Use your largest burner to heat your pressure cooker on high. The pressure cooker has an indicator to let you know when the pressure reaches its desired limit. Lower the heat, and allow the pressure cooker to cook the food for the required time. The pressure cooker is equipped with a quick release button that will allow the pressure to release slowly. It is important to push this button and allow all the pressure to release before attempting to remove the lid. Carefully remove the lid away from you to avoid steam burning you.
Because there are a variety of pressure cookers, not all will be set up and used in the same way. It is important to familiarize yourself with the manual to understand exactly how your particular pressure cooker needs to be set up in order to properly cook. The manual will contain a water guide for the correct amount of water that is needed for each food item. It will also explain to you how to attach the lid to the pressure cooker properly, and how to remove it once you have finished cooking.