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Pressure cooking explained

Pressure Cooker

Cooking with a pressure cooker is a way of cooking food in a sealed pot which does not let air or liquids to escape. This allows pressure to build-up inside the cooker. Most pressure cookers sold today have an internal pressure setting of approximately 15 psi

When the cooking liquid boils, some of it turns into steam. A relief valve or regulator is opened at the cooking pressure which releases steam and prevents the pressure from rising any further. The heat is then turned down to a level where the pressure is maintained.

At this pressure water boils at 125°C (257°F) which makes food cook rapidly and cooking times are 3 to 10 times faster than conventional methods. For example a whole chicken can be cooked in 20 minutes and pressure cookery is often used to simulate the effect of long braising in a shorter period of time.

Pressure cookers

There is a large variety of pressure cookware on the market today. They are usually made from aluminium or stainless steel. High quality pressure cookware is made from stainless steel with a heavy copper bottom which allows consistent and regular heating. A rubber gasket or sealing ring is used to form an airtight seal between the pan and the lid, so that the only way for steam to escape is through a regulator on the lid. Modern pressure cookers have a back-up pressure release safety valve, which operates if the regulator becomes blocked by food to prevent the pan from exploding.

Healthy foods

Cooking under pressure enables you to prepare healthy fast food. Pressure cookery uses little liquids which means more of the valuable vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are retained compared to other cooking methods. Less salt and sugar are needed because cooking under pressure intensifies natural flavours. Also less fat is used and if you use the cooking rack, any fat contained in the food can be drained away

Benefits of pressure cooking

  • It retains vitamins, minerals and other valuable nutrients in your food
  • Energy Efficient — less cooking time, less pans and the low heat required all add up to less energy
  • It saves time — food cooks up to 70% faster
  • Less cleaning — everything is cooked in one covered pan. No food splashes to clean and it will never boil over
  • Several foods can be cooked together, saving on washing up
  • Versatile — can be used to prepare a wide variety of pressure cooking recipes

Imporant safety information

  • Read and follow the manufacturers manual carefully
  • The recipe will state the correct quantity of liquid. Ensure that the correct quantity of liquid is in the pan. Never fill the pressure cooker over two thirds full. Overfilling affects the operation of both the regulator and the safety valve because they can become blocked
  • Keep a close eye on the pressure regulator. When it has reached the operating pressure (as per your manufacturers instructions), rapidly turn down the heat
  • Always use a timer to let yourself know when the food is cooked
  • Always look through the vent pipe before closing the cooker to make sure it is clear. Make sure that the brim of the pot and the lid are clean and that the rubber ring is correctly fitted to the lid. Replace the gasket if it becomes hard or soft and sticky. Make sure that you clean the valve and the rubber ring thoroughly after every time you use it.
  • Never fill the pressure cooker more than half full for rice, dried vegetables, and soups because they expand so much during cooking. Dried vegetables must be pre-soaked, and rice must be cooked in a bowl. There are some foods that expand so much as a result of foaming, frothing, and sputtering that you should never pressure cook them. Never pressure cook apple sauce, cranberries, rhubarb, split peas, pearl barley, oatmeal, or other cereals, noodles, macaroni, or spaghetti.
  • Never try to open the lid while the pot is still under pressure
  • Make sure your hands, body or face are nowhere near the steam release
  • Read and follow the manufacturers manual carefully