Congratulations for having bought a new pressure cooker with an impressive look. It may be a bit scary initially, but getting familiar with it and the associated terminology helps and encourages its use.
Be sure to read the booklet that comes along with the cooker. Though there are some specific instructions for using an electric cooker and high BTU stoves, the following directions remain unchanged, irrespective of it being a gas stove or an electric one.
Pressure Cooker Basics
– Do not stir
Some food items get burnt easily if not stirred or if kept on high flame for a long time, tomatoes being one of those. So, you are directed to add them at the end, thus eliminating stirring. Pressure cookers reach the correct pressure over high flame.
– Lock the lid in place
It may sound frivolous, but surprisingly many users simply put in the food, turn the heat on and just leave the lid on the top, without realizing that the lid has not been locked. As a consequence, there is no buildup of pressure and your fuel is wasted. Check the instructions provided in the manual for proper locking.
– Bring to high pressure
Having put the ingredients in the pan with the requisite amount of water, put it on the flame. Take care that the flame just covers the pan and is not bigger than the bottom of the pan.
– Turn the heat to high
Depending on the type of food and its quantity, it may take five to twenty minutes for the pressure to get built up. It’s important not to fill the pan beyond the recommended level. This is particularly important if you are using the cooker to home can food. The recipes do not include the time needed for raising the pressure.
– Reduce heat
Once the needed pressure is achieved, you can lower the flame and still maintain the pressure. Initially, you may find it a bit difficult, but after a couple of attempts you will know when to lower the heat and to what extent. It varies with the design and make of the cooker.
– Quick release the pressure
This is simple to understand. As you release the pressure quickly, the process of cooking in the container comes to a halt. The safest and quickest way to do this is to keep the pressure cooker under running water. However, you can’t apply this same trick with electric pressure cookers. The steam can be released by slightly tilting the pressure regulator by use of a fork or pair of tongs. Be extra careful though, so that the steam doesn’t hit your face and cause a burn. As the pressure inside comes back to normal, you can open the pressure cooker. This is a perfect way of cooking vegetables, as it prevents them from being overcooked.
– Natural pressure release
If a recipe demands natural release of steam, you simply turn off the flame and let the pressure take its own time to come down naturally. Usually, this method is recommended for cooking meats. The natural cooling may take ten to twenty-five minutes. A large canner may take almost an hour or even more, but you won’t normally use such a size for cooking dinner.
These are the most often used terms encountered when using a pressure cooker. Before winding up, once again, please do go through the instruction manual before you start using the new cooker. Soon you will be cooking healthier foods for you or your family and at a lower cost.
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