A pressure cooker is a tightly sealed cooking pot that cooks food with high pressure.
Pressure cookers have been around for over 300 years, but it was only after World War II that they became super popular.
But what happened? Is it because people don’t know how to use a pressure cooker? Why isn’t everyone using them now?
One word: Greed.
Many businesses started manufacturing faulty pressure cookers fulfilling the soaring demand. Eventually, exploding incidents happened over and over again until homemakers were too scared to use them.
However, it’s starting to have a big comeback because the new generation of pressure cookers are so much safer to use.
How does a Pressure Cooker Work?
Before we learn how to use a pressure cooker, let’s take a look at how does pressure cooker works.
Pressure cooking is using steam pressure in a tightly sealed pot to cook food.
Okay, here goes a little Physics 101. Please bear with me, but I won’t blame you if you REALLY need to rest your eyes 😛
How does the steam pressure build-up in the pot?
When you heat up a pot, the liquid inside boils and turns into steam. When this steam is trapped in a tightly sealed pot, pressure begins to build.
How does the steam pressure cooks the food?
The pressure cooks the food by transferring heat energy from the steam pressure and the water to the food.
Why does pressure cooking cooks faster than most other methods?
Pressure cooking cooks faster because of high pressure:
Increases the liquid’s boiling point – At standard pressure, when the liquid boils and turns into steam, the liquid will stay at the same temperature no matter how long you continue to boil it. However, you can increase the temperature past the boiling point by adding pressure. So, food cooks faster under pressure using the extra hot steam.
Forces the extra hot liquid into the food – Imagine putting your hand over the boiling water compare to putting your hand in the oven. The steam is the one that immediately burns because steam is very efficient in transferring heat. With pressure cooking, it’s like there’s an extra force pushing this extra high and fast heat energy into the food. That’s why the food cooks faster than usual.
Since you need a cooking liquid to create steam and pressure, this explains why cooking with a pressure cooker always requires some form of liquid.
How to Cook with a Pressure Cooker?
Pressure cooking is a whole new way of cooking. No doubt there’s a bit of a learning curve. But fear not! Once you get the gist of it, it’s very easy.
Cooking with a pressure cooker in 6 easy steps:
Add food & liquid in the pot
Close lid, ensure valve is at the correct position
Select pressure setting
Electric pressure cookers: select cooking program and time
Stovetop pressure cookers: put on stovetop, select pressure setting, turn heat to high
Wait for the pressure to build up inside the pot
Starts cooking under pressure
Electric pressure cookers: the screen will display the cook time countdown
Stovetop pressure cookers: turn heat to low and start timer using the required cook time
One disadvantage of cooking with a pressure cooker is you can’t inspect, taste, or adjust the food along the way.
That’s why it’s essential to follow a recipe with accurate timings as you learn how to use a pressure cooker.
However, you may halt the cooking by quickly reducing pressure and open the lid if necessary.