Misconceptions about Electric Pressure Cookers
There are many misconceptions about electric pressure cookers. Pressure cookers became a popular kitchen appliance in the 1950’s and were commonly used to can home-grown produce. Unfortunately, early models of pressure cookers got a reputation for being “dangerous” due to their poorly constructed weighted valve that would easily get clogged while cooking. As the pressure would buildup in the cooker, gaskets would then blow causing water or steam to spew out, or the lid to fly off. Fortunately, today, pressure cooks now come with several fail-safe mechanisms to ensure safety such as multiple valves, dual pressure regulators, and spring-loaded locks. Now pressure cookers are making a comeback and are helping families cook amazing meals in a fraction of the time and we are here to clear up the misconceptions.
How does a pressure cooker work?
A pressure cooker is a tightly sealed pot with steam inside that builds up high pressure to cook food fast. As the pot heats up, the liquid inside becomes steam which increases the pressure in the pot. Since the steam’s pressure can reach around 250 degrees Fahrenheit (which exceeds the temperature of boiling water at 212 degrees Fahrenheit), food is able to cook faster. This high pressure also forces liquid and moisture into the food being cooked, which not only makes it cook faster, but it helps tough meat get very tender and become more flavorful as well.
The differences between a stovetop pressure cooker and an electric pressure cooker
Stovetop pressure cookers can reach higher temperatures and pressure than electric pressure cookers, so they are able to cook food faster. Electric pressure cookers cook food a little slower than their counterparts, however, they come with more functions and features, and you don’t have to watch them as carefully as stovetop pressure cookers. Instant pots are a brand of electric pressure cookers. Many models have more advanced features including Alexa integration and WiFi connectivity which gives you more control while cooking.
What can you cook in a pressure cooker?
Pressure cookers are versatile and are designed to cook things quickly. Pressure cookers are helpful for cooking roasts and tough cuts of meat that need to be tenderized. They can cook rice and pasta in as little as 5 minutes, beans in about 30 minutes and they make soups and stews cook quickly yet taste like they have been simmering all day. There are many recipes and cookbooks online on how to cook everything from hard boiled eggs to short ribs, and crème brulee to cinnamon roll steel-cut oats. You can find these recipes and more, here: 56 Easy Pressure Cooker Recipes, and 100 Pressure Cooker Recipes.
What are the benefits of a pressure cooker?
Pressure cooking reduces most cooking times by about 70%. Since pressure cooking requires less water, food can retain most of its nutrients which makes it healthier to eat and keep its natural flavors in the process. Cooking with a pressure cooker is more energy efficient than cooking with multiple pots on separate stovetop burners, and they won’t heat up your entire kitchen the same way your oven would.
Pressure cooker safety
Always read the manual before use. Check all components before cooking to make sure that the silicone gasket is intact and that the locking cover seals securely. Do not overfill the pressure cooker and be sure to add the required minimum amount of liquid per the appliance’s manual. Do not block the venting valve while cooking or releasing pressure. Using the proper pressure release method will keep the valve from clogging. Do not force the lid open. Tilt the lid away from you when opening to prevent getting burned by steam. Always use proper protective gear when handling the hot components of the pressure cooker.
Food safety and pressure cookers
Frozen food can be cooked in a pressure cooker. Check the appliance’s manual for guidelines, but cooking frozen food usually requires adding more liquid and increasing the cooking time. Use a cooking thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat, poultry, eggs, fish and shellfish when cooked in a pressure cooker to verify it has reached the required safe internal temperature as recommended by the USDA.
Cleaning a pressure cooker
Do not place the base and the heating element in water or in the dishwasher. Wipe these down with a damp cloth. The inner pot and the lid of most models are dishwasher safe (check your owner’s manual for specific cleaning recommendations). Handwash the sealing ring in soapy water, let it dry completely and then inspect it for cracks or other damage before putting it back in the lid. There is a guard or antiblock shield underneath the lid that prevents the pressure release valve from getting clogged. Wash this part in warm, soapy water and then wipe it dry. Check the steam release valve and the float valve to make sure nothing has clogged the pathways. If the unit has a condensation collector, handwash and dry it thoroughly before returning it. This needs to be checked regularly for moisture to prevent mold growth.
References – Misconceptions about Electric Pressure Cookers
Chin, Tim. (2020, March). How Pressure Cookers Actually Work. Retrieved from: https://www.seriouseats.com/how-pressure-cookers-work
Durand, Faith. (2021, January). What Is Pressure Cooking and How Does It Work? Retrieved from: https://www.thekitchn.com/a-primer-on-pressure-cooking-193715
Memken, Jean A., Ph.D. (2018). Electric Pressure Cookers: What Consumers Need to Know. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension. Retrieved from: https://grayson.ca.uky.edu/files/electric_pressure_cookers.pdf
Seaman, Greg. (2012, September). Top 6 Benefits of Pressure Cooking. Retrieved from: https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/top-6-benefits-of-pressure-cooking/
University of Idaho. (2021, March). PNW 747: Guide to Using and Caring for Your Electric Programmable Pressure Cooker. Retrieved from: https://www.extension.uidaho.edu/publishing/html/PNW747-Electric-Programmable-Pressure-Cooker
John. (2021, January). Differences Between an Electric Pressure Cooker and a Stove Top Pressure Cooker? Retrieved from: https://geekrobocook.com/electric-pressure-cooker-vs-stove-top-pressure-cooker/#:~:text=Stovetop%20pressure%20cookers%20take%20their,a%20number%20of%20different%20functions.