I enjoy cooking, but along with everyone I find fitting it in to the busy schedule of our family can often be a challenge. That is why I am always looking for ways to simplify – to continue to eat well and feed my family well in a way that fits into our lives.
One way to make life easier when cooking is to have the right tools available to speed the process. And the fun of having a new tool to experiment with makes it a win-win for me.
There are many tools that can simplify your life when cooking including some of the following:
- Food processor
- Mini chopper
- Immersion blender
- Slow cooker
- Indoor “grill”
- Pressure cooker
I want to focus today on some basics of the pressure cooker. I admit it was something I was a bit nervous about as you hear about their dangers. It is a tool I have recently purchased and now understand the multitude of uses and the many safety features built into models today.
Benefits of a pressure cooker
The main benefit of a pressure cooker is it will reduce your cooking time significantly. This can get dinner on the table quickly, even when you start dinner after work. With pressure cooking you also save energy because of this time saving as well as allowing for one pot cooking preventing multiple pots cooking at the same time. And an added bonus is with fewer pots – less clean up too! In addition, pressure cooking allows food to retain its nutrient value, so it is a highly nutritious way to cook. Pressure cooking can also save you money by allowing for less expensive cuts of meat to be tender and delicious.
The size of the pressure cooker is important because food will cook best when the appropriate size of pressure cooker is used for the food being prepared. Most recipes are written for using a 6-quart pressure cooker which tends to be a good size for a family. A 4-quart pressure cooker will be useful for smaller dishes for two people and an 8-quart cooker for cooking for guests, a large family or when making a big batch for freezing. I have a tendency to err on the side of getting a larger cooker, but with pressure cooking that really isn’t the best way to go. Choose a size that will fit your needs the majority of the time. If mostly you are cooking dinner for your family – a 6 quart is probably your best bet.
Stove Top or Electric Models
You can purchase pressure cookers both to use on your stove top or electric models. Some of the electric models I have found may have other uses for one piece of equipment, so that may be appealing to you. I purchased the Instant Pot which can be used as a pressure cooker as well as a slow cooker and has functions for sautéing and keeping the food warm. I find the ability to brown before pressure cooking or slow cooking makes my life easier as many recipes call for browning the food first – this allows me to do that all in one pot. A component I also like about this electric model is it has Function keys for certain foods, making it easier for a beginner to cook the food for the appropriate amount of time.
I enjoy cooking, but don’t consider myself to be a highly skilled chef. I am creative when putting together a meal. But when it comes to learning something new, like pressure cooking, getting a good cookbook helps to walk you through the steps. If you start out feeling successful, it will be a tool you will find useful for many years to come.
When purchasing your pressure cooker, basic use instructions as well as recipes will be included to get you started. To expand your pressure cooking repertoire, there are many cookbooks that you will find useful as you increase your knowledge and skill.
Lorna Sass, known as the “queen of pressure cooking” has written many books on pressure cooking, her most recent being “Pressure Perfect.” Not only will it give you recipes to follow but it is full of tips and tricks to have the greatest success.
What can you make in your pressure cooker?
- Meat, poultry and fish
- Rice, risotto, pasta and whole grains
- Beans and vegetables
- Even desserts!
It can be used for any food, could cut cooking time in half and make delicious meals all in one pot!