Pressure Cooker Tips and Tricks
Pressure cookers are miracle workers in the kitchen. Just throw the ingredients in the pot, and in practically no time at all, you have a delicious meal great for a family gathering or to keep as leftover lunches for the entire week. But just because they’re wonderful and relatively easy compared to other forms of cooking, that doesn’t mean pressure cooking is without its difficulties. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of 10 pressure cooker tips and tricks to help you maximize your pressure cooking prowess and get the perfect meal every time.
1. Read read read!
You may be a pressure cooking master, knowing all the various buttons and functions of your cooker and using them to great effect. If you are just starting out, either cooking with pressure or just with a new pressure cooker, reading the manual can give insight and knowledge that you won’t get anywhere else. Even if you’ve cooked with the same cooker for years but haven’t checked the manual, you might find something new in there that can level up your game.
Likewise, before you start cooking, you should make sure to read through the recipe. Checking the recipe before you begin gets your head in the game. You should understand the instruction and know which step follows another. Plus, you can prepare your ingredients and make sure you have enough, so you don’t have to stop for prep in the middle of cooking, which brings us to our next tip.
2. Preparing ingredients the night before cooking.
If you prep your ingredients beforehand, this is especially handy if you’re planning to use your pressure cooker to make a breakfast dish. When it comes time to cook, you just toss the ingredients into your electric pressure cooker and sit back with a cup of coffee until breakfast is ready.
3. Plan meals, so you can prepare common foods in one go.
If you plan your meals, you can, for example, cook enough rice for two meals and then be ahead of dinner tomorrow. Additionally, you can choose recipes with a few of the same vegetables. You can then get all your prep done on meal one and be ready just to throw the chopped veggies into the cooker next time.
4. Brown it!
Browning foods before you cook them with your pressure cooker can release additional flavors, making your meal much more delicious. This is especially true for meat but also works with things like garlic, onion, carrots, and peppers. You can even brown the foods in your cooker and then deglaze the pot for additional flavor. Many electric pressure cookers nowadays also have a browning setting, making this a cinch.
5. Don’t overstuff your pressure cooker.
Pressure cookers designed to have space remaining after you put in your ingredients. This gives the food room to expand and allows the cooker to maintain even pressure while cooking. Overstuffing a pressure cooker can prevent the cooker from operating as it should, resulting in a bad meal. It can also damage the cooker or at least make a mess inside your valves that you’ll have to clean out later.
6. Check your liquids.
Pressure cookers work by superheating liquids and using the resultant heat and pressure for cooking the ingredients all the way through. You want to be sure to use enough liquid that the food doesn’t undercook, usually at least 1 cup, but you should never fill the pot more than halfway, or you could have a pressure cooker explosion.
7. For stovetop pressure cookers, use two burners.
When using a stovetop burner, one of the difficult things is getting pressure up quickly, so your meal doesn’t get soggy while it’s warming. But you also want the pressure to level out once it’s right. To make this easy, use two burners on your stove, one set to high heat, and the other set to medium/low heat. Use the high heat burner to build pressure quickly at first, then switch your pressure cooker to medium/low burner to keep the pressure steady while you cook.
8. Cook pasta or rice separately from soup if you plan on having leftovers.
One of the most common frustrations with leftovers is that the noodles or rice have absorbed more water while the soup sat in your refrigerator, making the whole thing a soggy mess. By cooking them separately until it’s time to eat, you avoid this and can enjoy delicious leftovers for days.
9. Use evenly sized ingredients.
When you’re doing your prep, try to get all your ingredients as even as possible. This will enable them to cook similarly while in the pressure cooker and give you an evenly cooked meal without extra mushy or extra crisp pieces.
10. Be mindful of your altitude.
It’s easy to forget that boiling temperatures are slightly different at higher altitudes, affecting the pressure in your cooker and the time required to cook properly. Pressure cookers recipes are made to be cooked at sea level, meaning that you’ll have to adjust the higher you are. A general rule if you are more than 2,000 feet above sea level, you should increase the cooking time for your recipe by about 5% for every 1,000 feet.
There are many more tips and tricks out there for cooking the perfect meal with your pressure cooker. Whether you’re a pressure cooking veteran or brand new, there is always more to learn. Hopefully, these 10 pressure cooker tips and tricks help you avoid some common mistakes and get a perfect pressure cooked meal every time.