Becoming Familiar with an Old Appliance – The Pressure Cooker
I co-taught a class recently on using a pressure cooker and had someone stop yesterday for a lesson on using this appliance. I hear more people talking about wanting to learn how to use a pressure cooker.
Pressure cookers heat food quickly because the internal steam pressure from the boiling liquid causes saturated steam ("wet steam") to bombard and permeate the food. Thus, higher temperature water vapor (i.e., increased energy), which transfers heat more rapidly compared to dry air, cooks food very quickly
Pressure cookers are a great time saving appliance. Here are some tips for using this appliance which may have been sitting on the shelf in the pantry for a long time.
• Read the instruction book to become familiar with this appliance if you have not used it for a while.
• When converting conventional recipes for use in a pressure cooker, experience is the best teacher. A rule of thumb is to decrease the length of cooking time for a conventional recipe by two-thirds. The amount of liquid used may also have to be adjusted because there is very little evaporation from the pressure cooker. Decrease the amount of liquid so there is only about ½ cup more than desired in the finished product.
• Quick cool is used for delicate foods such as custards, fruits and vegetables. To quick cool a pressure cooker, place the cooker under cold running water or place in a pan or sink full of cold water. For foods like roasts and stews, it is usually recommended to let the pressure cooker cool on its own by setting it aside until the pressure drops.
• If you have not used your pressure cooker for a period of time, check the gasket (if there is one) to make sure it is pliable. If you need a new gasket, take the entire pan with you as there is a number on the bottom of the pan that is helping in ensuring the correct size gasket is chosen.
• Grains can cause the vent pipe of the pressure cooker to become blocked. To prevent blockage from occurring, grains must be prepared in a bowl covered with aluminum foil in the pressure cooker. The bowl can be metal, like stainless steel, or oven-safe glass. The bowl should not extend above the two-thirds full mark on the cooker.