Pressure cookers are efficient gadgets that allow you to prepare your food with many advantages. Food can be cooked 70 percent faster in pressure cookers than with other methods and they are also energy efficient. Yet, when people think of these kitchen tools, they think of the rattling, torrid image of old pressure cookers, and are hesitant to use them.
Nowadays, however, pressure cookers are quieter, cleaner and easier to use. Since they all function on the same basic principles, there are minute differences among them. Pressure cookers are sealed appliances in which steam is produced by heat. The pressure increases the boiling point, allowing the food to cook at higher temperatures. Because the process does not involve boiling, foods do not have to be submerged in water.
Although pressure cookers may seem intimidating, with their numerous parts, they are generally easy to use when steps are followed. Here are steps on how to use a pressure cooker:
1. Check the recipe for the appropriate cooking time and appropriate amount of liquid needed. In most situations, the liquid will usually be water. [It is important to note to never fill the cooker more than 2/3 full] Food is then added. An optional cooking rack can be used. In that case, the rack should be placed in the cooker, before the water is added. After water is added, the food is placed on top of the metal rack.
2. Be certain the vent pipe, which allows excess pressure to be released, is unclogged. Place the lid of the pressure cooker on and secure it tightly in place. The handles should be directly on of top of the other.
3. Place the pressure regulator, which controls the pressure in the container, on top of the vent pipe. The pressure regulator is important because it indicates when the appropriate cooking pressure is reached.
4. Heat the pressure cooker. The pressure regulator will indicate when the cooking pressure is reached when it begins to rock, or jiggle. The heat should be controlled to maintain the rocking movement.
5. Timing should begin when the heat is lowered. Cook for the recommended time, being sure to use a timer.
6. When the food has finished cooking, set the pressure cooker of the stove, but DO NOT open it the lid until all the pressure from inside the container has been released. Pressure can be released by: running the cooker under cold water (the fastest method), or setting the pressure cooker aside and allowing the pressure to be released naturally.
7. On some cookers, the air vent, or cover lock, is an indicator of the pressure within the cooker. When it drops, the pressure had been completely released from the appliance. On pressure cookers with weighted pressure regulators, the pressure has been released when the sound of escaping steam stops.
8. Carefully remove the pressure regulator and lid. The food inside is now ready to serve.
Because pressure cookers involve very high temperatures, it is important to use caution.