Pressure cooker 101 |  Lifestyles

Pressure cooker 101 | Lifestyles

The pace of the holiday season seems to pick up speed with each passing year. Often a Christmas meal is the hardest thing to do. Save time on vacation by using a pressure cooker to prepare meals.

Before you take out the pressure cooker, take some time to go over the dos and don’ts of pressure cooking. Janice Hall, coordinator for the Macon County Alabama Cooperative Extension System, says the most important part of cooking with a pressure cooker is following the directions.

  • Pressure Cooker XL, Ninja Foodi, and Instant Pots are some of the big pressure cooker brands. Regardless of the brand name, it is essential to read the manual to learn how to use it correctly. For any make or model, Hall shares these basic precautions:
  • Make sure all vents and valves are clean before and after use.
  • Never use less than the recommended amount of liquid that the recipe calls for.
  • Do not exceed the two-thirds level. The inner pot will have a maximum fill line.
  • Always use a recipe and double check cook times.
  • Make sure the rubber gasket is in place before cooking.
  • Use the natural release and / or quick release method as directed in the recipe.
  • Always make sure the pressure has dropped before opening the lid.

As with any cookware, Hall recommends making sure the pot is completely clean before using it. Be sure to remove the inner pans from the pressure cooker before cleaning.

“Most inner pots can be safely cleaned in a dishwasher,” Hall said. “However, some must be hand washed with soap and water.”

A pressure cooker can often be intimidating for first-time users. Do not worry; there are few things the pressure cooker cannot cook. Unlike a slow cooker, it’s okay to cook frozen meat with a pressure cooker.

Hall said she often cooks frozen when there’s no time to plan ahead. However, he recommends adding an additional five minutes per pound of meat when cooking frozen.

“Pressure cookers cut traditional cooking time by a third,” Hall said. “It really is a quick cook.”

Due to its rapid cooking, the pressure cooker retains the nutrients and colors of the vegetables. This is another reason why pressure cookers are often preferred over slow cookers. There is practically nothing that the pressure cooker cannot cook. However, Hall recommends looking at the size or thickness of foods before cooking.

“Foods of thicker consistency, such as animal feed soups, tend to burn in a pressure cooker. That’s why it’s important to use a tried and true recipe for that pressure cooker, ”Hall said.

The following are some of Hall’s favorite dishes to make in a pressure cooker:

  • Tender ribs (25 minutes)
  • Cheesecake (five minutes)
  • Lima beans (four minutes)
  • Peas (four minutes)
  • Greens (three minutes)
  • Chicken and rice (times vary between 15-20 minutes)
  • Rice (four minutes)
  • Hard boiled eggs (four minutes)
  • Buffalo wings frozen (10 minutes), then air-fried 30 minutes or until crisp and sauteed.
  • Beef and rice (times that vary between 15-20 minutes)
  • Italian soup and Italian venison soup (eight minutes)
  • Venison BBQ (50 minutes for a 3-pound marinated roast)
  • Boiled peanuts (one hour)
  • Last but not least … Thanksgiving Turkey (50 minutes)

Note. These times do not include the time required to build pressure and may vary depending on the cooker model.

“Sometimes it can take up to seven minutes to build pressure and then the dish will cook for the recommended time,” Hall said.

Depending on the recipe, it may require a quick pressure release or a natural release. For quick release, release pressure immediately to prevent overcooking. For a natural release, let the pressure cool and release naturally. The pot will default to the warm setting during this natural release process.

A common misconception is that pressure cookers can be turned on and left unattended throughout the day.

Hall strongly believes in monitoring all electronic devices while in use for the possibility of unforeseen circumstances. As always, follow the manufacturer’s pressure cooker instructions while in use. However, if a pressure cooker is left on and all settings are working properly, most appliances are programmed to default to a warm setting once cooking is complete. This allows the pot to release pressure and keep the food warm until it is time to eat.

Mary Leigh Oliver writes for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

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