Pressure Cooker has been around for a long time. They let food cook at a higher temperature as a result cutting down overall cooking time. However, there are some fear in regards to pressure cooker. The older models can explode causing significant damage to you and your kitchen. Thankfully, modern technology has implemented safeguards to prevent this. The Best Pressure Cooker prevents steam from escaping and have the ability to reach a overall higher pressure.
What is a Pressure Cooker?
A pressure cooker is a pot designed to trap steam. As the amount of steam increase, the pressure also increase. As a result temperature can reach a higher range. Without a latch that traps the steam, the maximum temperature that it can reach is 212 degree Fahrenheit. This will vary based on your location relative to sea level. At higher altitude, the maximum temperature will be significantly less than 212 degree. In this situation, pressure cooker is really beneficial.
How do Pressure Cooker Work?
Most pressure cooker has a latching mechanism that lock the lid into place. Between it, there will be a gasket to prevent steam from escaping. Depending on the pressure setting, there will be different temperature setting. Higher pressure will result in higher temperature.
Older pressure cooker use a rocker type design. At the top, there will be a heavy metal knob that rocks back and forth. It traps steam in and move around when it cooks. If you lift it up, a jet of steam will escape.
Because of all the pressure that is stored in the pot, there is a inherent danger. Go on youtube and you will find results of destroyed kitchen. There is even a movie with Audrey Hepburn of that happening.
Modern pressure cooker will have various point of pressure relief. These valve will detect when the pressure reaches a dangerous rate and release the steam. You can usually find these valves on the lid at different section. The lids usually latch on to prevent it from exploding.
With that being said, every time I use it, I am a bit more cautious than usual.
Benefits of a Pressure Cooker
Why use one if it is potentially dangerous? The Cooking Time. Tough cuts of food like beef shank takes hours to cook. With a pressure cooker, that can be cut down to half an hour. Bean and stocks can be also be done in under an hour.
Since a pressure cooker is a close loop system, flavors gets trapped in. Most people dont realize that aroma in the air is actually lost flavor. Because of this, making stock in a pressure cooker can actually result in better stock.
Finally, pressure cooker uses less energy. After the pot reaches the appropriate pressure, all you need to do is let it simmer at a low temperature. You waste less gas and it doesn’t heat up your room.
Stove Top vs Electric Pressure Cooker
With the rise of Instant Pot, electric pressure cooker is all the craze. Every Tom Dick and Harry have them in the house. However, there is a strong argument for stove top pressure cooker. With a Stove Top model, you can sear and develop more flavor. The key thing to get is the maillard reaction which is a carmelization of sugar compound. With a Electric Pressure Cooker, the heat is simply too low. You cant develop that same flavor.
There are ways around this. You can sear food in a separate pot and just let the pressure cooker do the cooking. But if you’re going to do that, why not just get a stove top model?
I will say this, electric pressure cooker has a lot of convenience built in. They are essentially a soup up slow cooker. Once you set it, you can just come back with food ready to eat. If you want, you can leave in the morning and have food ready when you come home. They also have many preset function so that you can cook stuff like rice or oatmeal. It truly is a convenience appliance.
How to Use
To use a Pressure Cooker, begin by searing food. This lets you develop an extra depth of flavor. Add other ingredients as necessary and put the lid on. Be sure that the safety valve can be moved freely. This ensures that steam can escape if necessary. During the initial phase, turn the temperature up high. When the pot reaches the right pressure, a indicator will pop up.
Most Instruction will have you lower the temperature. I find that if I do that, the pressure/temperature will drop right away. I usually let it sit for a minute or two before lowering the temperature. And even then, it will be at a medium low setting so that it wont cool down that much.
If for some reason it still drops, check to see that the gasket is still good. Often time the gasket will crack and steam will escape.
How much water to use?
Since food contains a lot of water, you use less water than you would with a regular recipe. Most pressure cooker recipe will have it set for you, so I recommend you follow those. However, be sure to not overfill the pot with water. Usually the maximum line is around 3/4 of the total capacity. Because of this, its best to get as large of a pressure cooker as possible. Generally, I recommend models that are 8 qt and above.
Canning is another thing that is often done in a pressure cooker. Perhaps one of the most popular is the All American Pressure Cooker. It has knobs that locks the lid into place. It looks industrial and the size is big enough to fit multiple jars at once. Because of the higher temperature, it can be sure to kill off any bacteria that can cause food to go bad.
Best Pressure Cooker List
Below, you will find a list of some of the Best Pressure Cooker. There are a few different option to choose from. Get one that best suits you.
Fissler vitaquick Pressure Cooker Set of 4 with Insert and Tripod Induction (Best Overall)
Fissler is a German Manufacturer of kitchen Utensils. Through our test, this model has consistently tested to be the best. They trap steam better and reaches a higher temperature. The base is reinforced with a thicker base so that it can store more heat. Handles are also built to a higher standard. This 10 qt model is the way to go. Its pricey and the difference between the 8 qt and 10 qt isn’t that much.
Zavor ZPot 10 Quart 15-PSI Pressure Cooker and Canner (Best Buy)
For a more affordable pressure cooker, Zavor is a good alternative. They provided similar result to fissler. You have two temperature setting and a latch to ensure safety. Pressure release valve will prevent it from accidentally exploding. Like the Fisser, the base is reinforced for heft and performance.
Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Energy Efficient Pressure Cooker (Best Small Pressure Cooker)
Kuhn Rikon is one of the most iconic pressure cooker on the market. Its sleek designed and its high grade steel gives it excellent performance. This model is just big enough for a light braise. While you cant create stews, its good for lighter item like a plate of beans or some osso buco.
Pressure Cooker are excellent tools to have. They quickly reduce the rate at which food cooks. While there are inherent danger, the pros outweigh the cons. Our test have found that the fissler model to be the Best. However, more affordable option like those from Zavor will work just as well. But if you want a smaller one, than go for Kuhn Rikon.
Looking for a Rice Cooker, check out our article on the Best Rice Cooker.