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If you enjoy cooking but only have little time to dedicate to it, we’re ready to bet you’ve thought about buying a pressure cooker, also known as an express cooker. As you probably know, this modern appliance greatly reduces cooking times. But wait, there’s more: you will be able to make delicious dishes without losing vitamins.
The use of pressure cookers began to spread in the second half of the 20th century. Technological advances lead to the creation of flexible seals, which are designed to maintain pressure and prevent accidents. As you will discover in our article, pressure cookers now offer enhanced speed and improved safety through continuous research.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Our recommendation: The best pressure cookers
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about pressure cookers
- 3.1 What is a pressure cooker exactly?
- 3.2 How do pressure cookers work?
- 3.3 What are the advantages and disadvantages of pressure cookers?
- 3.4 How was the pressure cooker invented?
- 3.5 What is the difference between a pressure cooker and an instant pot?
- 3.6 What measures should be taken to avoid accidents?
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Pressure cookers are sealed cookers with a valve to control the internal steam pressure. They are also called “express cookers” and can cook food 50 to 70 percent faster than traditional pots.
- This cookware product will help you save time, money and energy. Foods cooked in pressure cookers also retain their full flavour and essential nutrients.
- Analysing the materials of an express cooker is key to choose the product that’s just right for you, while safety is another aspect you can’t overlook.
Our recommendation: The best pressure cookers
Here are the very best pressure cookers you will find on the market. You will notice that, while all offer great quality, each one model presents its own characteristics and is unique.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about pressure cookers
Many types of pressure cookers are available on the market, so make sure you analyse their different features: size, energy efficiency during cooking, materials are critical. Here are the most frequently asked questions from users to help you make the right shopping decision.
What is a pressure cooker exactly?
The combination of these three aspects is what leads to cooking times that are shorter than with standard pots.
How do pressure cookers work?
This high-pressure steam does two things:
- It increases the water’s boiling point in the pot.
- It extracts the food’s moisture as the pressure rises.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of pressure cookers?
|It cooks food 50 to 70 percent faster than traditional pots.||You will need to learn a new way of cooking. Recipes need to be adapted as cooking times are different.|
|It retains more nutrients due to the high cooking speed of the food.||The cooking state of the food cannot be checked, as pressure will be released and you’ll have to start over again if you even lift the lid.|
|You can save 75 percent more energy than with a standard pot.||You’ll need to release the cooker’s pressure, extract the food and build up the pressure again to finish cooking if you’re working with ingredients with different cooking times.|
|Nutrients are concentrated, which leads to better tasting food.||Following cooking times is essential to avoid overcooking ingredients. Nowadays, most pressure cooker include a guide for recommended cooking times.|
|Pressure cookers are now safer than ever before. Most models are built with various safety features designed to prevent accidents.||Read the instruction manual carefully to keep your pressure cooker in top condition and avoid unwanted surprises.|
How was the pressure cooker invented?
- In 1938, German inventor Alfred Vischler introduces the “Flex-Seal Speed Cooker” in New York City. However, the product that most attracts the attention of housewives is the “Presto” pressure cooker, presented a year later at the very same NYC fair.
- Filed in 1919, the Spanish patent of Saragossa-born José Alix Martínez isn’t as successful as originally planned and the “olla express” (express cooker) doesn’t quite catch on in the Iberian country.
- In 1939, the New York World’s Fair greatly contributes to the rise of the use of pressure cookers, thanks to the introduction of the “Presto” model. This event marks the start of production of this cookware by manufacturers from all around the globe.
What is the difference between a pressure cooker and an instant pot?
- Instant pots usually close by turning a lid over the body of the cooker, aligning the latter with the handles of the lid.
- Two cooking levels based on a pressure indicator are usually integrated.
- As mentioned above, instant pots are the same as traditional pressure cookers or express cookers and only differ in that they are more advanced technologically.
What measures should be taken to avoid accidents?
- Keep the steam outlet valve clean. If you want to prevent food from obstructing the outlet, it is recommended to check its condition before every use.
- Avoid overfilling. Never completely fill the cooker with food. In fact, experts advise against filling up more than two thirds. It is even recommended not to exceed half the capacity of the pressure cooker for certain foods. Note that it should never be empty of liquid and there must be at least 200 ml (millilitres) of water.
- Be careful when opening it. Be patient and don’t open the pressure cooker as soon as the cooking time is over. You should wait for the appliance to cool down as the pressure inside is tremendous. Don’t open it until the valve is fully lowered. You should avoid abrupt temperature changes: no matter what, don’t put your pressure cooker under the tape.
- Reduce the temperature. It is necessary to lower the heat intensity when the valve has already risen. Otherwise, the pressure will rise too much and could actually cause a small explosion.
- Frequently change the sealing rubber. Constant use of your pressure cooker will wear out parts such as its sealing rubber. You will need to change it frequently to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Always keep an eye on your express cooker. The pressure cooker must always be under control while cooking. Under no circumstances should you leave it on and leave the room.
- Take good care of it. This is a key aspect for safety, and you should not use your pressure cooker in case of leak or if the lid doesn’t fit correctly anymore.
There are certain criteria to follow of you want to choose the most suitable pressure cooker: they will make your purchase easier. We designed this section to show you what aspects you should take into account before making your final decision. We hope our mini guide will help you obtain both quality and value for money. The following elements are key:
- Materials and thickness
- Base of the pressure cooker
- Pressure gauge
- Warranty and accessories
Materials and thickness
Your material of choice should be a high quality, heavy gauge steel. The characteristics and components of your pressure cooker won’t matter if your model isn’t made from quality materials. Luckily for you, the majority of manufacturers of kitchen products now use quality materials by default.
The pressure generated inside the express cooker is very high and we strongly recommend you don’t save money on materials as their resistance is reduced. This is why stainless steel cookers are the go-to choice. They will remain in great condition without being deformed over time.
Base of the pressure cooker
Your pressure cooker’s base should be made from three-layered stainless steel, but you have to know that not all stainless steels are the same. Look on the label or bottom seal for “18/10 stainless steel” (a composition of 18% chromium and 10% nickel); this indicates the metal’s composition. Here are the advantages of chromium and nickel:
- Corrosion resistance. Steel must include at least 10.5% chromium to be considered stainless. More chromium means greater durability.
- Shine. Nickel helps to increase the protective layer formed by chromium and also adds shine to cookware.
The cooker’s valve is the essential element that allows the steam to escape, but it also indicates the current pressure of the appliance. Look for a product that can reach 15 psi (15 pounds of steam per inch), the most common standard for pressure cookers. Make sure the model you choose meets that standard.
- Look for an accurate indicator that can clearly show when this level is reached (pop-up indicator, colour marker, etc.).
- Your pressure cooker should also incorporate a quick-release option in the pressure regulator. This modern mechanism allows to quickly lower the pressure inside the cooker without losing heat.
Nowadays, pressure cookers offer many safety features that older generations simply didn’t include. The audible whistling present in today’s appliances can quickly evacuate excess steam in case of overpressure.
- If the pressure continues to rise despite the whistling, modern pressure cookers provide other solutions. The sealing gasket is pushed out through a safety opening designed in the lid, airing out the pressure safely.
Size does matter: you won’t need the same pressure cooker to serve meals for you alone or for a whole family. Remember that you won’t be able to fill more than two-thirds of your appliance.
The following table shows the relationship between the volume of the cooker and the number of people at your table:
|Volume of the pressure cooker||Guests|
|3 to 4 litres||For two people or side dishes for four people. Ideal for people who live alone or for couples.|
|5 to 6 litres||They are the most suitable for a family. Perfect for four to six people.|
|7 to 8 litres||Recommended for large families or for many guests. Also recommended for preserves or for foods that are then frozen.|
Warranty and accessories
A good pressure cooker can easily last you for decades, but a smart shopper will always consider a brand’s quality, as well as their commitment to backing up their products.
- Spare parts, such as gaskets or rubber caps, are not covered by warranties. This is why we recommend choosing a major brand company where pressure cooker parts and accessories are available.
You can never go wrong if you buy your very own pressure cooker. In addition to lowering your energy consumption and saving money, you will cook food much faster. This appliance will help you create delicious homemade meals for your guests, without spending hours in the kitchen. Remember that time is everything when using a pressure cooker, so never neglect that.
We hope this last section has introduced you to all the criteria you need to know to make the right decision when searching for your very own express cooker. Elements such as materials, spare parts or safety are key, just like capabilities and value for money. Make sure to take all factors into account!
(Source of featured image: Baloon111: 472000145/ 123rf.com)