Why You Should Use a Pressure Cooker
Learning to use a pressure cooker could save you time and
Do the words "pressure cooker" bring fear to your heart? Do
you have visions of grandma's double-decker aluminum
monolithic model needing a forklift to move it? Do you fear
permanent facial scaring from flying pressure cooker shrapnel
and scalding tomato bits? If so, please consider the time,
money, and energy savings a pressure cooker can bring to your
Food Network's Chef Alton Brown assures us that pressure
cookers today are safe, efficient, and friendly to use. They
come in a variety of sizes, from large canning models to
medium-sized stockpots to others hardly bigger than a frying
pan. Electric or stovetop varieties are available. They can be
used for cooking meats, rice, legumes, and vegetables as well
as for the traditional pressure canning.
French innovation first led to steam technology in 1679.
Napoleon later used this unique way to avoid food spoilage as
a military secret. Word eventually leaked out of France and
pressure cooking became widespread. Americans use of pressure
cooking has been rather fickle since WWII, but it is now
making a comeback. European and Asian cooks have continuously
used this method due to low energy usage. We would be wise to
follow their lead.
Chef Arlyn Hackett says, "We are in the new age of pressure
cookers." Our user friendly second generation pressure cookers
come in aluminum or stainless steel with a variety of features
like precision spring valves and safety locking devices, which
only allow opening when pressure level is safe.
Saving Time Saves Energy Costs - Pressure cooking reduces
cooking time, usually using only a third of the time of stove
top cooking and much less than that for slow cooking. This
cuts the energy costs for cooking. An electric pressure cooker
uses only 110 volts rather than 220 and both types keep a
summer kitchen cooler.
Broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, carrots, and
other root vegetables all cook in under five minutes. Even an
artichoke that might take an hour to cook in boiling water
will be done in twelve minutes. Rice takes eleven minutes.
Whole chickens and roasts are falling off of the bones in
flavorful tenderness in less than an hour.
Saving Time Saves Food Costs - And it encourages home cooked
meals. A wholesome soup can be made in 30 minutes, feeding a
family for a fraction of the price of buying hearty soups in a
can. Pressure cooking tenderizes less expensive cuts of meat
and cooks whole chickens rather than more expensive chicken
parts. Chicken, beef, pork and venison fall from the bones and
make perfectly shredded meat, which can be used in soups,
stews, sandwiches, salads and casseroles. (I add onion,
celery, garlic, and at times, I also bay leaf, green chilies,
Cajun, Mexican or Asian spices to the meat for mouthwatering
flavor and excellent broth.) Meats and broths/stocks can be
frozen in recipe-sized portions to be quickly pulled out for
easy future meal preparation, saving time and money on those
meals too! It's a wise, time-conscious investment.
Saving Time Promotes Healthy Choices - In our fast-paced
lifestyles, many families find themselves running for fast
foods or buying processed foods that have less preparation
time. These are often less healthy foods filled with
additives, salt, saturated fats, and high calorie counts.
Those foods contribute to health problems connected to
obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Eating healthy can save money in medical cost savings.
Pressure cooking uses minimal amounts of water so nutrients
remain in the food and are not poured down the drain. When
using a pressure cooker, you control what you eat. Consider
buying and eating fresh foods that can be pressure cooked (not
overcooked) and ready to eat in minutes. Fresher, tastier
meals can also be packed to reheat for healthier work lunches.
When choosing a pressure cooker, Alton Brown and Chef Hackett
stress that heavy is best. One adviser says, "If it feels
cheap, don't buy it." Choose double-handles for safe handling
and a three-ply bottom to avoid scorching food. A sense of
confidence can be gained by carefully reading all directions
and planning to stay nearby when using a pressure cooker. With
a little practice, this is well worth the payoffs of time and
money saved. Plus, you'll have delicious, healthy meals to
Many notable cooking personalities promote pressure cooking.
Wolfgang Puck sells his line of electric pressure cookers on
Home Shopping Network
, which also offers a
pressure cooking cookbook by Tori Ritchie. Several brands of
cookers are available on
. Emeril Lagasse is
another avid pressure cooking advocate. See his recipes and
. There are several interesting
and instructive videos on
. Check your local
library, bookstores and recipe websites for more ideas. Each
instruction manual has recipes also.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Little old me...
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