If you want to join millions of cooks and chefs around the world, you’ll need to start with the basics. Most of the people who want to join this profession, initially think of only two basics; the ingredients and the cook. They jump straight to the menus, recipes and food platters without even thinking of the other important pieces of equipment used for cooking, and pressure cookers are one of them. So, let’s start with the pressure cookers.
Pressure Cookers- The FAQ
- Aren’t these pressure cookers sort of outdated tools for cooking?
The majority of people think a pressure cooker is an old technology. Ironic, because what else could be better in today’s fast-paced world than a cooking machine made to minimize cooking times drastically? Today, cooks are over-scheduled, but people always demand delicious meals cooked from the best ingredients. A pressure cooker can do just that, like nothing else in your kitchen can.
The modern pressure cooker has numerous parts that can be categorized into three section: the pan, the lid, and the accessories. The pan is the pressure cooker’s body, and it also has handles for easier carrying. The lid contains the handle, the gasket that keeps the cooker airtight, the steam vent for releasing pressure, the indicator pin for checking if the cooker has pressure and the safety devices on the lid. The accessories are the steam basket, the trivet for keeping the steamer above the liquids in the cooker, and the metal divider for separating different types of food in the steamer basket.
- How does the pressure cooker work?
A pressure cooker is an air-tight cooking pot that utilizes the steam of the sealed food for cooking. Since the vapors of the sealed liquid cannot escape, they help increase air pressure and the boiling temperature of the liquid. High pressure and temperature combine to speed up cooking.
- How do I know my pressure cooker is working correctly?
You can find out whether or not your pressure cooker is maintaining the internal pressure and working correctly, if:
- The cooker lid remains closed
- The pressure control is jiggling gently, and
- The handle is properly fixed on the pan handle
- Are pressure cookers safe for cooking? Don’t they explode?
If you’re referring to those YouTube videos of pressure cooker explosions, well, those doing it should really think twice. Isn’t it odd to put a camera in the kitchen, just to find out if something happens to that pressure cooker? Nevertheless, it can be a costly joke, because steam burns can be lethal.
If used properly, pressure cookers are the best piece of cooking equipment. Pick up any street-legal PC. It will surely have two to three safety features, at least. Pressure cookers are designed to cause less damage should they rupture. So, stick to these rules:
- Never force it open, because pressure cookers generate high-pressure steam that can cause steam burns
- If you’re dealing with an older pot, always make sure that valves on the lid are properly screwed
All in all, if you have good equipment and common sense, you’ll never burn yourself in the kitchen.
- While pressure cookers are often used for canning, can I use it for normal cooking?
People use pressure cookers in canning, especially when they’re cooking lower acid foods. These foods have a pH value above 4.6. Low acid foods often contain harmful bacteria that are difficult to eliminate at 100-degree Celsius. Here, pressure cookers can benefit you by raising the boiling point of water above its normal temperature, enabling it to kill those tough bacteria. But, this is just one benefit.
When food is cooked at a higher than normal boiling point, it cooks faster. A 10-degree rise in boiling point doubles the speed of cooking.
- Why is a pressure cooker different from a canner?
The problem with canned food is, you cannot say anything about the quality of aluminum coating the canner has. In fact, some canners have low-quality coatings which may be unsuitable for unpackaged foods. As a result, raw food reacts with acidic foods.
Canners need to maintain a specific pressure inside, and they have a weighted gauge to maintain that. On the other hand, pressure cookers have springs to maintain pressure by opening or closing valves. With the passage of time, the spring may soften which, in turn, makes it difficult to control the pressure.
- Why do chefs prefer Sous vide, slow cooking if pressure cookers can do the job quickly?
Chefs use this method to heat the food gently. The amount of heat in Sous vide cooking is just enough to cook juicy and consistent food. This helps cook medium-rare and tender meat. But, as said earlier, pressure cooker take less time and cook meat from tender to well-done. It is very helpful when you have no time to waste, and your kids are about to leave for their soccer game.
- Which one is better: a stovetop cooker or an electric cooker?
Cooking with an electric pressure cooker is easier and more convenient, compared to a stovetop cooker. However, the disadvantage is that they operate at less pressure (pressure is reduced in electric equipment because of the certification requirements).
Stovetop cookers can touch a gauge pressure limit of 15 psi. which is why cooking recipes are often prepared in compliance with stovetop pots.
- What is the formula to determine the amount of liquid to be added in a pressure cooker while cooking a recipe?
There is no general formula in this regard. However, professional chefs recommend reducing the amount of liquid (mainly water) by 15 to 20 percent.
- What foods should be cooked in a pressure cooker?
Foods, such as fish and vegetables can be cooked by alternative methods, in order to preserve their vibrancy. You can use a pressure cooker to cook robust food that takes longer with other cooking methods.