What Exactly Is A Pressure Cooker And How To Use One
The first pressure cooker was constructed in 1679 by a French physicist named Denis Papin. The first pressure cookers lacked adequate pressure controls and were very dangerous to use. In 1680 the first pressure safety valve was invented, and pressure cookers began to gain acceptance. Today’s pressure cookers are a result of over 300 years of technological progress.
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How do Pressure Cookers Work?
Water boils at 212⁰ F (100⁰ C) at sea level. In a pressure cooker water is heated under pressure, and the boiling point is raised. A pressure cooker allows food to be cooked at a higher temperature, reducing cooking time. For the home canner, the increased heat and pressure in a pressure cooker ensures that any bacteria in the food they have prepared are destroyed. After canning jars are removed from the pressure canner and cool, the lid seals and safe and fresh food if preserved for their family’s enjoyment.
Modern Pressure Cooker Technology
Pressure cookers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The traditional pressure cooker shape that most people remember from their grandmother’s kitchen is a large pot that she used as a pressure canner. The latest models come in sizes from 2-quarts up to 22-quarts and more. The newer digital pressure cookers can be used as either a slow cookers or a rice cooker. Creative homemakers can preset the start time on their electric pressure cooker, and have supper finished at exactly the right time.
The most significant advance in pressure cooker technology is all the safety features that have been developed for your family’s safety. Many modern pressure cookers have locking handles that cannot be released as long as there is pressure in the cooking pot. Newer pressure cookers have automatic pressure regulators that will relieve excessive pressure. Pressure cookers lids either have lid gaskets to protect against leakage, or may have machined surfaces that seal tight when the lid locks are engaged. Pressure cookers have up to five safety devices that ensure your safety in the kitchen.
For consumers who are concerned about home energy costs, pressure cookers present a very economical way to prepare nutritious meals. Stove top pressure cookers significantly reduce cooking time decreasing your energy costs, and electric pressure cookers eliminate the need to even turn on your kitchen range. An entire meal can be economically prepared in one very efficient kitchen appliance.
The most well known way that homemakers have used pressure cookers over the years is canning. Many years ago, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that the only way to safely can low-acid foods is with a pressure canner. But there are also many other foods you can prepare with your pressure cooker. There are wonderful recipes for soups, stews, beans, potatoes, beef and pork roasts and whole poultry. There are even great recipes available for deserts.
Pressure Cooker Tips
Always follow the instructions that came with your pressure cooker. Never try to circumvent the safety features that have been built into your pressure cooker. In the past, pressure cookers bursting under pressure caused serious injuries. The safety features incorporated in modern pressure cookers have eliminated those dangers.
Always follow the pressure, heat and timing requirements of the recipe you are following. Since foods cook at a quicker pace in a pressure cooker, it is possible to overcook and burn the food that has been placed in your pressure cooker. Vegetables and fruits are particularly susceptible to overcooking. Pressure cooker recipes are designed so each type of food you are preparing will be finished at exactly the right time.
Always ensure you have included the correct amount of liquid required by the recipe. The primary key to a pressure cooker working correctly is the steam that is produced as the water in the pot is heated. Too much or too little water in the cooking pot will adversely affect the quality of the meal you are counting on eating. Never use a pressure cooker as a deep fat fryer unless specifically allowed by the instructions.