The pressure cooker is a common kitchen item found in most homes. It is a uniquely designed cooker that works with the principles of physics to get foods cooked faster. Pressure cookers are made with secure rubber seals attached to a gasket and valves to trap moisture inside the pot. This moisture exerts pressure due to the heat from a burner, on the food inside the cooker making it tender and ready for consumption.
There are different types of pressure cookers; they basically work using the same principles- steam pressure. Pressure cookers have become very popular because they are versatile and can be used in many ways to cook food faster.
The steam pressure created inside the cooker when it is in use can rise as high as 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Pressure cookers can be used to cook tough meat, some vegetables, and other foods. It helps to know all about the functions to get the best cooking results.
Step by Step Guide For Using A Pressure Cooker
Now you know a thing or two about the pressure cooker, let’s get started with the guide on how to use them;
The user manual for pressure cookers
There are different brands of pressure cookers, but they all function similarly. It is, however, essential that you read the user manual carefully to understand the different features of your brand. Depending on your location, user manuals are printed in languages to make it easy for people in that region to understand the information. You can find the user manual for your pressure cooker in the packaging. It is also essential you keep this document for reference purposes, and in case someone else in your home wants to learn how to use the pressure cooker. However, if you lose your manufacturer’s product guide, you can contact the customer care unit for the brand. They may send you an email copy of the manual.
Another source of information for using pressure cookers is online forums. On these forums, you will find many users who have tried different brands and are willing to share their experiences. Also, the FAQ section in the user manual can provide much-needed information you should know before using the pressure cooker.
Some important reasons you should read the user manual is to know the different parts of the pressure cooker, they can vary for different brands, and the terms used to describe them. This information can be helpful if you ever need to contact the customer support unit for help.
There are generally two models of this cooker. You can find the regular/manual pressure cooker and the electric models in the market.
Usage instructions for the regular pressure cookers are generally basic. You can adjust the pressure valves, put your food in and place it on a burner. On the other hand, the electric pressure cookers feature different settings for cooking. For example, you can find these models with settings for brown cooking, high pressure, or slow cooking.
The recipe for foods you want to cook will also be considered before you start using the pressure cooker. For example, you may need to set a particular timer for particular foods.
The steam pressure generated inside pressure cookers must be allowed to ‘escape’ before you can open the cooker. There are special valves in the quick release mechanism to perform this action. The steam is going to be very hot and can spurt out uncontrollably if you do not use the pressure release mechanism properly. This is why you must read the user manual carefully.
To avoid injury, always use a kitchen glove when cooking with the pressure cooker. You should also ensure your face and body are not exposed to steam or placed near any of the release valves through which steam escapes.
Depending on your brand, you can find so many tips and information regarding your safety while using the pressure cooker in the manufacturers’ user manual.
Pre Inspection before using the pressure cooker
It is very important that you check the pressure cooker carefully before using it every time. These checks are done to ensure your food is cooked properly and there are no issues. You should look for loose seals, broken or damaged parts and ensure the release mechanisms are working perfectly. If you notice any damage on the gaskets or signs of wear, it is best you have the pressure cooker checked before the next use.
Your pressure cooker has vent pipes; they can become blocked and disrupt the normal functions of the cooker. So it is necessary to inspect the vent pipes to ensure they are not blocked. Also, movable parts should be free, and screws tightened. No worries, it is not so difficult, after a few times, you should be able to carry out these checks in a few minutes before using your pressure cooker
Determining the liquid level when cooking foods
Thankfully, many new pressure cooker brands have indications inside the cooker that help you know the water level in different situations. It should be noted that your pressure cooker works with steam pressure so you must put some liquids with your food into the cooker. However, if your pressure cooker does not have markers to show the expected water level, you can follow the basic principles.
For recipes that require you to cook the foods for twenty minutes, you should put at least one cup of water in the pressure cooker. There is another way; you can perform quick experiments. For instance, if you are not sure about the amount of water to use, start with half a cup, after cooking for the required time, check your food. If it is not ready, then add some more water. This way, you can determine whether you will be using a cup or less subsequently. However, most pressure cookers must never be filled with water more than two-thirds the volume to allow enough space for the steam pressure to build up and cook your food.
Does your pressure cooker have a metal rack? In case you are wondering what it is used for, you can use your rack to keep foods above water level. This way they will be cooked by steaming without immersion in the water. Sounds great right? That’s another option you get with the pressure cooker.
How to determine the pressure in your cooker
The regular pressure cookers can be set to generate different pressure levels while cooking. You can do this by adjusting the valve cover at the top. To reduce pressure, if you don’t want very high pressure, you can leave the valve open for a few minutes after placing your cooker on the burner. After some pressure has escaped, you will hear the whistling sounds; replace the valve cover to allow some pressure build according to your needs. Managing the pressure generated is easier with an electric pressure cooker. These models come with settings you can choose. For example, before placing your cooker on the burner, you can set the pressure to either 5PSI, 10PSI or higher according to the markings on your device. This is done using a knob specially designed for the purpose.
However, considering the size of most pressure cookers, you will not be able to achieve steam pressure higher than 15 PSI. No worries, any level between 10 PSI and 15 PSI can cook even the toughest foods. After confirming the pressure you want has been reached, you should lower the heat source to keep that pressure constant. Then wait till the cooking time elapses, and your food will be ready.
Cooking your food
At this point, you should already have a clear idea of how the pressure cooker works. Cooking is the easiest part of using the cooker, so focus on learning the different settings. To start cooking, prepare your food, by washing or peeling where necessary and place the food in your pressure cooker. Now all you need to do is set the time and wait, or hand around to set the pressure if you are using the regular/manual pressure cooker.
Fortunately, many manufacturers of pressure cookers make it easy for users to determine the time for cooking foods. You can find this information in the user manual. It is usually represented in a tabular form which shows different foods and the advised time for cooking them; this makes it easy.
However, if you realize your food is not ready after the suggested time, leave it for a few more minutes and check again, monitor the time and note how long it takes for the food to be ready as a reference.
When your timer alarm sounds, the food is probably ready. However, you will not be able to open the lid of your pressure cooker yet, because of the pressure. It has to be allowed to escape. You can do this by releasing the valve from a safe distance to avoid injury.
Please make sure you are familiar with the quick release function before using it to get rid of the pressure in your cooker when the food is ready. The quick release allows the pressure to escape quickly, you will hear a rushing sound, like a whistle, after this is done, and you can open the lid of your cooker and take out the food.
Another way to release the pressure from your cooker is by allowing the pressure to escape normally while the food continues to cook. While using a pressure cooker, you can hear a low whistle sound, that’s steam pressure escaping. Pressure cookers are designed that way to prevent an explosion; there has to be a small outlet for pressure to escape without disrupting your cooking. You can let this happen while cooking and wait it out until all the pressure escapes, and the lid can be opened.
You can also lower the pressure in the cooker by running some cold water over the cooker, but this should only be done with the regular pressure cookers because water will damage the panels in electric pressure cookers.
When you don’t hear the whistling sound of steam pressure escaping from the quick release valve, it is safe to open the cooker. However, it would be best if you never forced the lid of a pressure cooker open. If it refuses to come off, leave the cooker for a few minutes before trying again.
Other newer models of pressure cooker have small meters that show the pressure level. You can watch the meter gauge drop, indicating the pressure is reducing. When it gets to zero, it is safe to open your cooker.
That’s it; now you can enjoy faster cooking and more time to try your hands on different recipes. Pressure cookers are so convenient; we expect their functions to be enhanced by an innovative tech to increase their value.