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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
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
||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