Many people ask, “Can I use plastic in my pressure cooker?” Because most storage containers are made of plastic, this may seem like the easiest thing to use.
After all, many people use them in the microwave. To help you answer this question, we have compiled a list of safe materials and materials that are not safe to use when preparing food in your pressure cooker.
Remember that pressure cookers work by generating large amounts of heat with steam under pressure. Basically, it’s a sealed container that, when the contents inside are heated and produce steam, traps the steam inside.
Because the steam cannot escape, it builds up pressure, thereby pushing the boiling point of the water inside to beyond 212°F. Generally, this higher temperature shortens the cooking time and, because of a lack of evaporation, extracts flavor very well.
So, when using a pressure cooker, we need to bear in mind that whatever container is in there needs to withstand these high temperatures.
After all, you don’t want to end up melting something in your pressure cooker or even starting a fire. Instead, it is better to be safe and informed to know what to do and what you can use.
Safe Containers for Pressure Cooker
Below are the materials that you can use in a pressure cooker without fearing that they will melt or catch fire.
1. Oven-Safe Materials
A good rule of thumb is that any container you can use in your oven will also be okay in the pressure cooker. Any dish labeled as “oven-safe” means that it can handle a large amount of heat.
2. Food-Grade Materials
Food-grade materials are not made with dangerous chemicals that can leach into your food. For example, you don’t want to use a nonfood-grade glass container in your pressure cooker because it is not meant to hold food.
Did you know that some dishes can transfer toxins like lead and cadmium onto your food? Lead and cadmium were used in the paint that decorates many antique brightly colored dishes.
So please don’t use your grandmother’s bowls in the pressure cooker. Cadmium is found especially in bright orange and yellow dishes such as Mexican terracotta. So, keep these as décor only.
3. Non-Hermetic Containers
Hermetic containers are those that are completely sealed from any liquids or vapors getting in or out. The most common hermetic containers are made of metal and glass, such as a sealed glass bottle.
You don’t want to be cooking food inside these in a pressure cooker because the pressure will build up inside them, too, with no way of getting out. This will eventually lead to the container exploding inside the pressure cooker.
Non-hermetic materials are containers that cannot be fully sealed; thus, no pressure will build up in these. They are safe to use. This includes bowls with no lids, cake pans, and casserole dishes with loose-fitting lids.
Can You Use Plastic in a Pressure Cooker?
Now that you know what materials are safe to use in a pressure cooker, the real question is, can you use plastic such as Tupperware or other containers?
You may fear that they will melt, so we researched to ensure that you are safe and cautious with your containers. While plastic containers are made for microwaves, are they made for pressure cookers too?
No! The plastic of Tupperware and plastic containers are designed to withstand the heat of boiling water. However, in a pressure cooker, the temperature is much higher than that of boiling water.
Because of this, you are risking melting your plastic container and risking the contaminants getting into your food, so it is definitely not worth it.
In fact, you shouldn’t even heat foods in the microwave in plastic containers. The heat releases toxic chemicals. Rather transfer the food to a glass dish to cook or warm-up.
Rather than risking your health and your safety for a plastic container, find a container labeled as one of the safe ones listed above so that you have no worries when you are using your pressure cooker.
Bottom Line – Which Containers Work Best in a Pressure Cooker?
Now that you know which materials are safe, you may want to know which ones are best. Every material has its own specific heat transfer rate depending on how conductive it is.
This means how long it takes for the steam to heat the container and, in turn, to heat the food inside it. Silicone takes a long time to heat up, so it is not the best. It insulates the food from the heat.
Overall, when you are using a pressure cooker, you may wonder what containers are safe to put in it for both your health and your safety.
We’ve shown that the safest and best containers to use are made of stainless steel, glass, and ceramic and also that they are non-sealing and ovenproof.
The worst and most unsafe are made of plastic or anything that seals. Be safe with your pressure cooker and avoid using plastic!