In the past pressure cookers were considered to be on the dangerous side. Some would explode and cause fire or some nasty burns. Pressure cookers today are relatively safe when you know how to use them correctly. Food is placed inside the pot with a small amount of liquid. The lid is clamped shut as per the manufacturer instructions and placed over heat. As the heat rises so does the pressure in the pot because the steam and heat have no where to go as it does in conventional pots. If pressure gets dangerously high there is a little valve that will open or a weight that opens to release the steam and stops pressure from getting any higher. This allows for the food to be cooked with a higher temperature and not burn. Food cooks 70% faster in a pressure cooker than in a conventional pot.
Once time is up for cooking the pressure cooker should be removed from the heat but allowed to sit for awhile until the steam inside dissipates. Pressure cookers have a regulator that looks like a little valve or a weight that you can jiggle to let the steam out. Once no more steam comes from it you can safely unclamp the lid and remove it.
You may see some people put the pressure cooker under cold water and let it run for awhile. When you remove the cooker from the heat it still keeps cooking because the steam is still in the pressure cooker. Running it under cold water does the same thing that releasing the steam does. It stops the food from cooking which is something you want to do so it will not be over cooked. Even if you run the cooker under cold water you still have to release the steam before you open the lid.
There are some other benefits from using a pressure cooker. Since high temperatures are used any bacteria or germs that might be on the food do not survive the cooking. Also, vegetables retain their bright and healthy looking color when cooked in a pressure cooker. Tough meats will always be nice and tender after being cooked in a pressure cooker. Once you have released all the steam the lid should release easily. If it does not release then there must be a bit more pressure in the pot. Just wait a minute or two, release steam again and try to open. Always open the lid away from you just in case there is still pressure in the pot. This will ensure that food will not come flying out and burn you.
T-Fal Wearever make several pressure cookers that a good for the home cook. They have a 4 quart, 6 quart, 8 quart and 12 quart pressure cooker with prices that range from USD $35 for the smaller one to around USD $65 for the large one. They are made of aluminum, polished inside and natural outside, and they have one long locking handle made of hard wearing plastic. The 12 quart cooker has two locking handles at each side. They have a safety pressure valve and the sealing cover gasket is tight and safe. These may also go by the name of Mirro Pressure Cookers as well and the 12 quart can be used as a pressure canner during harvest season. They are all dishwasher safe and will not rust. These cookers have a safety feature that will not allow you to open the lid unless all of the pressure is released so there is no danger of every being burned. The gauge is easy to read and you will know when the desired pressure has been reached. There is usually a 10 year warranty on these cookers.
Another great cooker is the Megafesa USA 8 quart Super Fast Pressure Cooker that runs about USD $90. Because of the special base of this pot it cooks up to 3 times faster than most cookers of the same kind. It has three cooking levels including the traditional slow cooking at 6 psi, fast cooking at 9 psi, and a super quick cooking at 15 psi. The lid easily locks into place and will not open until all steam has been expelled. Other safety mechanisms are a valve, over pressure valve and a lid window with a safety edge. It is made of stainless steel and aluminum. It is suggested that this cooker should be hand washed instead of going into the dishwasher.
Pressure cookers are a good alternative to fast and nutritious cooking. They are also environmentally friendly because you are using less energy in order to cook and less time. Models made today are relatively safe for anyone to use because they cannot be opened unless all the pressure has been released. They are a great way to prepare a delicious and nourishing meal.
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