Sunday, 14 July 2013 17:02

How to buy the best pressure cooker?

Pressure cookers have a bad reputation. There are countless stories out there about exploding cookers. The truth is that only old pressure cookers are prone to blow up, newly bought models are extremely safe and easy to use. Pressure cooking is worth getting into as it produces tasty and healthy food in a lot less time than ordinary cooking. Risotto takes only five minutes to prepare, a stew takes less than sixty minutes. These devices work based on the principle that under
pressure, the boiling point of water is higher. When the cooker is sealed, the pressure inside the pot begins to build. The pressure raises the boiling point of water from 212 to 250 degrees, and produces steam. The hot steam 'bombards' the food, making it cook faster. This process uses a lot less energy than ordinary cooking, and produces a richer flavour as nothing can escape from the pot.

Aluminum or stainless steel?

Pressure cookers can be made of two materials. Aluminum and stainless steel. It is best to stay away from cookers that are made of aluminum. They are less durable than those made of stainless steel. Heavy usage will result in deformation and stains. Aluminum devices are less expensive, but if you plan on using your cooker for a long time, I would advise you to save up some money, and buy a cooker made of stainless steel. However, stainless steel is a bad conductor of heat. A pot made of nothing else, but stainless steel would contain hot spots. These are areas significantly hotter than others. These mean longer cooking time. To find the best cooker, select one that has an aluminium disc attached to the bottom of it. This way, you get the best of two materials.

Does size matter?

The most popular pressure cookers are the 6 quart models. However, I advise you to purchase a bigger one, unless you have a small kitchen. There are two reasons for this. First, it is impossible to fill a pot more than up to 2/3 of the way. All the juices from the ingredients will stay in the cooker, which will require space. Second, some recipes require larger models. I recommend an 8 quart model. This allows you to prepare bigger pieces of meat like whole chiken or ribs.

Wide or tall?

When presented with the choice, buy a wide model. A wide bottom provides bigger cooking surface. This is more efficient, and you have to spend less time browning meat before closing the pot. A wide cooker's inside is easier to reach when cooking, the food easier to keep an eye on. The useful models are the ones ranging from 7.5 to 9 inches in diameter. The best ones are 9 inches wide.

How much pressure?

A pressure cooker is essentially a sealed pot that does not allow air or liquid to escape below a pre-set pressure level. The more pressure, the shorter the cooking time. Cooking under 15 pounds of pressure would take away the speed advantage of pressure cooking. Longer cooking defeats the purpose of pressure cooking, as you do not save any energy by doing so. Also, you will need to adjust your recipes. Most pressure cooker recipes are written for 15 pounds pressure.

Your great new pressure cooker will serve you and your loved ones for a lifetime. It is vital to find the best pressure cooker out there. Save up some money and buy a pricy, but better model. This investment will pay for itself in a short time by reducing your energy bill and saving you time.

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