Buyer’s Guide to a Pressure Cooker

1. Why should I buy a pressure cooker?

There has never been a better time to upgrade your kitchen with a pressure cooker. While pressure cookers back in the old days were tied with memories of kitchen explosions (just ask baby boomers for any post-World War II pressure cooker they might have had in the kitchen), today’s generation of pressure cookers has been innovated enough to ensure safe use and more advanced options for your convenience.

This time and age sees the comeback of pressure cookers. Not only do pressure cookers allow you to cook quick, delicious dinners in a matter of minutes, these cookers are a perfect gift idea for every occasion and have many practical benefits:

Save time and money 

The most beneficial thing about having a pressure cooker is that it significantly cuts down on cooking time and is, in fact, the fastest method for cooking healthy and delicious meals.

How long should you cook a 2 kg chicken? In a pressure cooker, 15 minutes. What about a creamy dish of risotto? Around 10 minutes.

So how exactly does a pressure cook do this? Basically, a pressure cooker builds pressure from steam in the pot, thereby cooking food at above boiling temperature. This allows food to be cooked 70% faster than other methods of cooking, and consequently, less energy is used. Tests reveal that theenergy saved is 40% on an electric or gas stove and up to 75% in a conventional oven.

Less energy used, lower bill, more money saved. Not only that, a pressure cooker is also known for tenderising even inexpensive cuts of meat for tasty dishes. You can also cook dry beans rather than buying canned products. All this is good for your budget bill.

Healthier cooking 

Pressure cooking requires less water compared to other conventional types of cooking, which means that more vitamins and minerals are retained. Additionally, lack of exposure to air prevents oxidation of the nutrients in the food.

Bottom line: a pressure cooker is a great accompaniment to your healthy cooking efforts in the house.

Flavourful meals 

The key to tasty dishes prepared in a pressure cooker lies in the sealed environment. This prevents the loss of flavour and moisture in evaporation.

So food retains its natural flavour, which is why a potato will keep its natural potato and earthy taste. Also, since moisture is maintained, foods don’t dry out and meats are cooked juicy and tender.

Heat kills micro-organisms

Worried about safe food? The heat in a pressure cooker kills most harmful micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses.

Cooler and cleaner kitchen 

Unlike cooking on a stove top or in an oven, using a pressure cooker means that heat stays in the pot, so the kitchen remains cooler. Additionally, the covered lid prevents mess in the kitchen, saving you the trouble of cleaning up, plus minimum cooking smells.

Save space

Finally, you might be thinking, do I need another appliance sitting in the counter top? Thankfully, a pressure cooker is a versatile piece in the kitchen. It can double as a pot and a pan; you can use it to prepare a full three-course meal, ranging from appetizers to desserts. All these time, healthy, and financial benefits make a pressure cooker a true great investment in your kitchen.

2. How do I choose between an electric and a stove stop pressure cooker?

To put it simply, your choice depends on your needs. It’s definitely more convenient to use an electric pressure cooker, since you only need to press a few buttons and then walk away. It will automatically switch off and keep the dish warm until serving. It is mainly this “set-and-forget” setup that gives an electric pressure cooker its appeal.

A stove top pressure cooker, meanwhile, allows you to control heat manually for best optimal results. It also offers a large range of sizes to suit the family size (from 4 to 22 litre models) and type of cooking.

You can’t go wrong with either of the two, but in the end, it all boils down to what you consider is more important to you.

3. How much should I spend on a pressure cooker?

A pressure cooker should be considered an investment rather than just another pot you want to own, for the reasons given above as much as for your own cooking pleasure. There are many different companies manufacturing pressure cookers in a wide range of prices, so there’s something for everyone. Given below is a list of the pros and cons of each type of pressure cooker, according to price, to help you decide.

Budget Pressure Cookers
Pros 

  • made of aluminium, making them lighter
  • good conductors of heat, meaning even cooking
  • economic choice
  • good for beginners and for those who don’t use pressure cookers often
  • good for camping if you want to travel light

Cons 

  • parts (rubber/silicone seals, gaskets) are difficult to clean
  • may have a rough surface may discolour over time
  • prone to damage (warps, corrosion, dents, pits, scratches)
  • may lack convenient features such as a quick-release valve
  • may react to some food with high acidity may retain odours and flavours after use sometimes noisy as these use the “jiggle-top” regulator not dishwasher safe not induction suitable

Mid-Range Pressure Cookers

Pros 

  • the more preferred choice of pressure cooker users
  • made of stainless steel, making them more durable, meaning longer life-span than aluminium cookers
  • not easily damaged (warps, corrosion, dents, pits, scratches)
  • do not retain odours and flavours after use
  • parts (rubber/silicone seals, gaskets) are easier to clean
  • usually come with only two settings: high and low pressure plus a steam release function

Cons 

  • do not have as many features as premium pressure cookers
  • may not last as long as you would like, especially with frequent use, which will require higher maintenance costs

Considerations 
There are two types of pressure regulators: “jiggle-top” and a spring valve. “Jiggle tops” are more traditional, but can be easily lost/misplaced and spring valves are said to provide more accuracy in cooking

Premium Pressure Cookers

Pros

  • made of stainless steel, making them more durable, meaning longer life-spa
  • heavier, so they don’t easily get knocked over not easily damaged (warps, corrosion, dents, pits, scratches)
  • do not retain odours and flavours after use
  • parts (rubber/silicone seals, gaskets) are easier to clean smoother, shinier finish
  • come with more pressure settings, so there is more accuracy and control in cooking use less water as they don’t have vents to let the steam escape
  • come with accessories for more convenient cooking
  • simplest mechanisms, meaning lower maintenance costs
  • easier to use

Cons

  • pricier

4. What size pressure cooker should I buy?

The size of the pressure cooker you’ll need depends on who you’ll be cooking for, and how often. Always keep Vickie Smith’s recommendation in mind: “While even the largest pressure cooker is capable of cooking the smallest amounts of food, large amounts cannot be cooked in a small one.” All pressure cooker sizes indicate their full liquid capacity, but in reality, only half to two-thirds can be really used to cook. Never fill the pot more than two-thirds its capacity, as pressure cooking involves frothing and bubbling, which may block the steam valves when the pot is too full.

Under 5 litres 5-7 litres 7.5 – 10 litres Over 10 litres
This is good for singles or couples, as whole meals can be cooked for two here. It will also do for one course to serve a small family. The normal pressure cooker size for an average family with 3-5 members. It can accommodate a full meal recipe, but is not too bulky to store. The ideal pressure cooker size for large families with more than 6 members, or if you often cook for large groups of people, or like to freeze food. These larger ones are generally used for pressure cooking large amounts of food that you want to store in jars or pints, for catering purposes or any other semi-commercial venture that requires you to cook for more than 15 people at a time.
Pressure Cookers under 5L Pressure Cookers 5-7L Pressure Cookers 7.5-10L Pressure Cookers above 10L
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The Shear Value of Shear Bolts

What’s the Big Deal about Shear Bolts?

You may be wondering why shear bolts have any value. Sure, you’ve seen them around when you’re walking down the aisles of your supermarket. But when you look at them, maybe you just think they’re a scam. At a glance, they’re just, well… bolts. So what’s so special about them, you wonder. You’ve seen bolts, and you can buy them in bulk instead of packs of two or four as is typical of packages of shear bolts. Really it seems as though you may just as well buy a regular pack of bolts at a hardware store. 

You may have even heard stories of men and women doing just that, either because they can’t find a shear bolt to fit their product or because they’re hoping that cutting this corner will save them money. You probably haven’t heard of anyone having a problem for having done so. And since shear bolts aren’t *that* expensive, you may as well buy the alternative you can find in your hardware store. Right?

Wrong.

Shear bolts are found in a wide variety of household appliances. Whether you need a snow blower or a lawn mower, chances are you have at least one object that requires them. At times you may even be able to use the same type of shear bolt between two very different items, making it seem even stranger that you need to buy them. But whether you realize it or not, these shear bolts are specifically calibrated for their usage in your products. They are meant to allow only a certain amount of torque to be applied before they snap. This is a cautionary measure in order to save your products from long-lasting, expensive, and maybe even permanent damages.

Regular bolts that you can find at a hardware store have not been designed to break at the application of too much shock or pressure. They are designed slightly differently. If you compare the two, you may see grooves on a shear pin that a regular bolt of the same size will not have. This is the difference between no potential damage to your product and the possibility of hundreds of dollars worth of damages. 

Bite the Bullet, Buy the Bolt

If a bolt is the same size as the shear bolt you are using, it can have the same technical usage. That is to say, it will fit and it will not immediately break your product. But don’t be fooled by this. Even if you get a bolt to fit, it does not have the same advantages that a shear bolt does and it is not guaranteed to protect the inner workings of your tractor, lawn mower, or snow blower in the same way. A shear pin will break if too much torque is applied. A bolt may break, but it also may not. And if it doesn’t, you will be in for a world of hurt. Your property will be destroyed and you will be out hundreds of dollars as well as your valuable free time because you were trying to pay a few dollars less for a tiny bolt.

Five ways to reduce your household’s energy use

The increasing popularity of global energy-saving initiatives like Earth Hour shows us that, not only is there an overwhelming need for us all to conserve energy and start to preserve natural resources, there’s also a great deal of interest around the world in finding out the best ways to save power on an individual level.We’ve looked into the issue to help Australian households reduce their energy consumption, so you can save money and have a positive impact on the global environment.
1.Appliances 

Unplug your appliances when they’re not in use

Your TV, computer, microwave and even some  washing machines have a ‘standby’ mode, which means they’re still using energy even when they’re not in use.

Buy appliances with a good energy rating

The more stars, the better – but think about size first. Often it’s easier for a larger model to be more efficient (and therefore have more stars) than a smaller one. However, since it is bigger, its overall energy consumption is usually higher.

Pick the right washing machine

Although they usually cost more to buy, most front-loader washing machines save you money over time and are kinder to the environment because they use less power, water and detergent than top loaders.

Choose an energy-efficient fridge

Your fridge and freezer is working non-stop and the energy it consumes adds up quickly. All new fridges sold in Australia must meet Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS). Look for a model that uses a hydrocarbon, such as butane or pentane, as the refrigerant and/or blowing agent for the insulation foam. All fridges on the market are CFC-free, so don’t base you purchase decision on “CFC free” labels.

2. Heating and cooling

Insulate your roof or ceiling

This will help keep your home a pleasant temperature in summer and winter. It saves you money on energy bills and pays for itself over a relatively short time.

Draught-proof

You can draught-proof your home by making sure doors and windows are properly sealed – you can buy draught excluders or window seals very cheaply.

Seal your chimney with a damper

This will help to keep heat from escaping in winter – assuming the fireplace isn’t in use – and help stop hot air from coming in during the warmer months.

Avoid installing downlights

Besides using a lot of energy, they penetrate the ceiling and insulation, causing heat loss. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) are a good option for lighting.

Close all external windows and doors

This is especially important when your heater or air conditioner is running.

Shade your windows

During hot summer days this will help to keep the heat out, and on cold nights curtains or blinds help to keep the heat in.

Turn on the air conditioner early

If you have an air conditioner, try to use it only on really hot or humid days, and if you expect a hot day, pre-empt the heat rather than waiting until your home is already hot. (Similarly, start heating early when expecting a cold day.)Look for programmable timer and thermostat controls. Set your air conditioner at the highest temperature setting at which you still feel cool enough; 25ºC is usually adequate. Each 1°C increase of the thermostat setting will save about 10% on your energy usage.

Install ceiling fans

Ceiling fans are much cheaper than air conditioning and have less impact environmentally.

3. Transport

The government’s Green Vehicle Guide allows you to compare the environmental impact and fuel consumption of all new passenger and light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes.Even if you have a fuel-efficient car, whenever possible it’s a good idea to leave it at home and walk, cycle, catch public transport or car pool.

4. Water

Water-efficiency labels

The Water Efficiency Labeling and Standards (WELS) scheme allows you to compare the water efficiency of different products – the more stars the better. Ratings are compulsory for all new domestic washing machines, dishwashers, showers, toilets, urinals and most taps.

Rainwater

Collected rainwater is ideal for watering your garden. Contact your water authority and local council for advice on how to install and maintain a rainwater tank.

Greywater

Recycled greywater from showers, laundry tubs and washing machines can be stored for use on the garden (or even in toilets and washing machines), or it can be diverted to the garden with a plumbed-in diverter. Conditions may apply in the area where you live – contact your local council for advice.

Buy a water-efficient showerhead

These are great water-saving devices for daily use. However, if you have an instantaneous hot-water system, the flow rate of a low-flow shower head may not be enough to start it. Check with your installer. If you have a gravity-fed water system (the water flows from your tank to your taps without being pumped), make sure you buy a shower head that’s designed to cope with low pressure.

5. Green power

The average household emits around 14 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, half of which is from electricity generation. This contributes to climate change and global warming.One simple and relatively cheap way that we can all start to make a difference is by switching our electricity to “green” power. This means using power generated from clean renewable sources such as the sun, wind, water and waste power, rather than coal.Green power is available to all households and generally costs slightly more than standard electricity. What you’ll pay depends on the percentage of GreenPower and the retailer you choose. Use one that’s accredited by the GreenPower program, an initiative of the ACT, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia Governments.