Pressure cookers have been around for decades. They’ve been associated with various Mythbusters type TV shows – usually involving explosions, but recently, they have had a bit of resurgence in popularity.
Pressure cookers are known for their speed of cooking, and their ability to tenderise even the toughest of meats saving money at the supermarket.
Pressure cooking cooks the food in a liquid-like broth. Because the unit is locked and airtight it doesn’t allow any moisture to escape. This allows you to cook the food in a shorter time but maintains the taste (and the texture) of something braised for much longer.
More recently they have gained popularity for cooking vegetarian and vegan meals like curries and pasta dishes.
There are some downsides to conventional stovetop pressure cookers. Knowing how long to cook something can be tricky. Microwave Pressure Cookers on the other hand, are not in this category.
Different parts of a pressure cooker.
- The base; traditional pressure cookers are made of stainless and/or alloy composites.
- The seal; usually rubber or silicone-based, creating a seal around the inside of the rim.
- The lid is usually made of the same material except for the base which contacts the surface of the stovetop.
- The valve! This is a critical part of the pressure cooker. It allows excess pressure to escape, so you don’t create an actual explosion rather than a delicious taste explosion for your tastebuds.
How to choose a pressure cooker.
Some points to consider when you want to buy one of these devices:
- Size – how many people do you need to feed?
- Material – does it need to work on an induction top, or do you want something that can be used in the microwave?
- Cost – how much do you want to spend? They range between $99 for a budget brand to $400 with the average being around $300 for a decent quality unit.
- Variety – how many other dishes do you want to cook in it?
- Time – how much time do you have to cook every day?
- Versatility – what types of dishes can you cook in your pressure cooker?
- Mess – how much cleaning up do you want to do? This includes splatters around your stove.
Options for pressure cookers in New Zealand
Best pressure cooker – most popular options:
- Electric pressure cooker (image 1) half an hour to two hours
- Quarter acre pot thermal cooker (image 2) heat and leave to cook for 12 hours
- Traditional stovetop (image 3) half an hour to two hours
- Microwave pressure cooker (image 4) 30 minutes cooking time
What’s the difference between these pressure cookers?
They all cut cook time and create less mess with one-pot cooking. The stovetop model needs to be checked regularly while cooking to avoid burning and is good for wet/moist dishes. The electric model is great but is also limited in what you can cook in it. The Quarter acre pot is great for camping, or mobile living where your cooking facilities are limited and you have plenty of time to start the initial cooking process on the stove, then allow the unit to cook your food overnight or while you are out for the day. The micro pressure cooker has been described as the most versatile as it is super quick, plus it can be used for a variety of cakes, steamed puddings, pasta dishes and more without fear of burning. This is because the heat is not concentrated on the base of the unit. Say goodbye to scrubbing burnt bits off the base.
When you arrive home late from work and realise that there’s nothing prepared for dinner, the pressure cooker becomes your handy kitchen assistant.
You can set your micro pressure cooker for up to 30 minutes cooking time (that’s all it needs) and go have a shower, read the news, do some washing or anything you like. Your Tupperware Pressure Cooker can cook the equivalent of a 7 hour slow cook in under 30 minutes. Set at 900 watts for the recipe time required, then walk away and hope the kids haven’t eaten all of the contents by the time you get back.
Just grab some veggies from your Vent Smarts, throw some boneless chicken breasts or tenders from the fridge or freezer in with some stock or sauce, and a tasty dinner can be ready in about 25 minutes.
Cooking puddings and cakes generally take around 12 minutes. Great for a last-minute hunger buster or, if your main meal was not quite enough and you really need a sweet fix!
Because moisture cannot escape, whatever you are cooking, foods like meats, which would typically be quite tough if cooked for a short time, become juicy and tender in half an hour or less. Cakes are desserts are soft and fluffy.
Whatever type of pressure cooker you opt for, it will allow you to make the most of whatever you have in your kitchen and freezer. The only question is which pressure cooker fits best into your lifestyle?
I hope that gives you some ideas – happy pressure cooking!