Cooking with a pressure cooker comes with its risks, but modern pressure cookers have multiple built-in safety features that make it impossible for too much pressure to build up in the cooker, eliminating the old risk of the lid blowing off. While safety features have been added to the cookers, it is still important to pay attention to certain details.
- Before cooking, ensure that the appliance is clean and that all of the rims are clear of old deposits of Check that the gasket is flexible and not dried out, ensure you replace it if necessary.
- Be sure to read your pressure cooker manual carefully.
- Do not fill the cooker more than two-thirds full or half full for foods that may froth, e.g., beans and grains, or are mostly liquid..
- Once the cooker reaches high pressure, it is important to lower the heat immediately. If left over high heat, the food may become overcooked. If using an electric stove, use the two-burner system: While the cooker comes to high pressure over high heat, heat a second burner to medium-low or low heat. When the cooker reaches high pressure, move it to the second burner and keep it just hot enough to maintain high pressure.
- When removing the lid, tilt it away from you to protect yourself from the escaping steam. Scolding yourself with the steam can easily happen if you do not take care when removing the lid.
When you have finished cooking, you must release the pressure before you can open the lid to the cooker. There are three ways to do this. The appropriate method for releasing pressure depends on the type of food you are cooking. Follow recipe instructions.
Natural Release Method
This method is best when you are cooking with meat or poultry, foods that may froth and those that are mostly liquid.
Simply remove the cooker from the heat and let the pressure drop naturally. Allow 5 to 20 minutes for this process.
Always give a little more time than you think is required, you can never be too safe.
Cold-Water Release Method
This is the quickest way to release the pressure. It is perfect if you are cooking vegetables and you want to prevent overcooking.
Place the pressure cooker in the sink. Hold the cooker at a slight angle and run cold water over the outer edge of the lid so that it flows over the lid and down the sides. Do not let water run directly over the vent or valve.
Quick Release Method
Modern pressure cookers have a special valve that can be used to release pressure quickly. The best way to do this, while avoiding injury, is to use a cooking utensil to press the quick release valve.
This method is useful when you wish to stagger the addition of ingredients, a stew in which the vegetables are added toward the end of cooking, for example.
Do not use this method for foods that are mostly liquid or tend to froth—the froth might clog the valve. And avoid this method with meat, because the rapid release of pressure may cause the meat to toughen.
Cooking with a pressure cooker is quick and convenient. By following these simple steps, you can prevent unnecessary accidents. So what are you waiting for, treat yourself to a pressure cooker and make your meal times quick and easy.