Why are pressure cookers making a comeback in the modern kitchen? Here are some of the reasons why you might want to get one:
- Dramatic reduction in cooking time. Pressure cookers work by sealing the pot so that steam cannot escape. As a result, water boils at 122 degrees C rather than 100 degrees C – and the higher temperature cooks food much faster. Generally, pressure cooking takes just a third of the time compared to cooking normally. An entire chicken can be cooked in just twenty minutes, and potatoes can be boiled in about eight minutes. It’s as fast as a microwave, with the additional benefit that foods that can’t be cooked in a microwave can be cooked in a pressure cooker (for example you can bake in a pressure cooker).
- Because the pot is sealed, flavors and nutrients are retained. It’s healthier to cook vegetables in a pressure cooker than on top of a normal stove because you use less water and nutrients do not get drained away.
- A side effect of the quick cooking is that less energy is used, which can save on your electric bills.
- You can do a range of different types of cooking in a pressure cooker – you can use it for simmering, steaming, braising, boiling, poaching and baking. As you get more used to your pressure cooker, you will find more ways to cook with it. For example, pressure cookers can be used to make delicious winter soups in minutes.
- Cooking under pressure helps to kill more bacteria and viruses (because of the higher temperatures reached), so your food will be safer to eat.
- If you have an infant, you can also use your pressure cooker to sterilize baby bottles and other items without needing to spend on a separate sterilizer.
Some people may worry about the safety of pressure cookers, but they have changed beyond recognition in the last thirty years. They come with safety locks and heat resistant handles. Electric programmable pressure cookers come with precise thermometers and push-button controls making it as easy to operate as a standard microwave.
Best Pressure Cookers for 2017
1. All American Pressure Canner
All American pressure canners are made from hand cast aluminum in a sand mold which means each canner is slightly different. It has a unique metal-to-metal seal, which means this pressure canner doesn’t need a gasket. The cover goes on easily (it’s designed to fit exactly) and you clamp it in place with wing nuts.
The handle is made from bake-lite, which stays cool to touch. It has a geared steam gauge with automatic over-pressure release. You get a pressure regulator weight with settings of 5 psi, 10 psi, and 15 psi (which means you can also use this as a pressure cooker at the lower psi).
It comes with two racks so you can stack your canning jars within the canner.
The only caveat is that you cannot use this pressure canner on glass top or flat top ranges. Please note that these canners are heavy – don’t leave them on the stove when not in use as the weight will impact the cooker, and get someone to help you when lifting it (and definitely don’t try to lift when it’s full of water, put the canner on the stove first and then use a pan/jug to add the water). All American pressure canners are made in the USA (that’s how they got their “All American” name). They’ve been making them in Wisconsin since the 1930′s.
The All American canner comes in a number of different sizes – the one pictured is the 30-quart canner which can hold 14 pint jars – but you can also get smaller sizes
Before you do any home canning, read these food safety tips on home canning, to ensure you are doing it right. All canning needs to be done at 15psi.
You can use your All American pressure canner for standard pressure cooking as well.
2. Cuisinart 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
It is made of brushed steel and has handles on either side that are cool to touch. It has variable temperature and pressure settings, plus allows to set it to saute, brown, simmer or warm.
Cooking times are reduced by up to seventy percent compared to traditional cooking. It’s comparable to the speed of a microwave, except you can cook so much more in a pressure cooker, for an example, roasts and cheesecakes.
The cooking pot is non-stick and dishwasher safe. The pressure cooker itself has a number of safety features – it won’t build pressure until it registers that the cooker is locked tight, and it won’t release the lock till the pressure has been safely lowered.
The best part is that you get a three-year warranty – which means Cuisinart are confident about the performance of their pressure cooker.
Can you do canning in a Cuisinart Pressure Cooker ?
The cuisinart electric pressure cooker goes up to 10 psi – according to the USDA, foods should be sterilized at 240° to 250°F, attainable with pressure canners operated at 10 to 15 PSI. Their other stipulation is that the pot holds at least 4 quarts jars, which this pressure cooker does. As always, read the information in the USDA link before doing any canning as they provide useful safety tips.
3. Presto 6 Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker
The Presto 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker pictured left (model number 01362) is the saucepan version.
This is a sturdy pot with a heavy duty lid that locks in place during cooking. There is the familiar overpressure vent at the top, and the handle is made of cool-to-touch plastic.
This pressure cooker is a handy size for families and comes with a rack for steaming food or canning. They include a recipe book along with the instruction booklet so you never run out of ideas for meals to cook in your pressure cooker. This pressure cooker comes with an impressive 12 year warranty.
Many people will be wondering whether to opt for the slightly cheaper aluminum version of this pressure cooker – what’s the difference between a stainless steel pressure cooker and an aluminum one? As the name implies, stainless steel does not get stained by food cooked within it, aluminum does. More seriously, stainless steel does not react in any way with food. By contrast, aluminum reacts with acidic foods – such as tomatoes – and you end up with pock marks in the metal – and yes this is down to the aluminum dissolving and leaching out into the food. The only time it’s safe to use aluminum in cooking pots is when it is in a tri-ply pot, sandwiched in-between layers of stainless steel (or other metals).
Amazon is selling this stainless steel pressure cooker with free shipping – see below. I’ve included the price of the aluminum pot (which also comes with free shipping) just so you can see that the stainless steel version is not that much more expensive:
4. Fagor 5 Piece Pressure Cooker Set
Also known as a “duo-combo” set, here’s what you get in the box:
- two stainless steel cooking pots with an aluminum base for heat conductivity – one 8 quart and one 4 quart
- an inter-changeable pressure cooker lid that fits both pans (so both pots can be used as pressure cookers)
- a tempered glass lid that fits both pans (so both can be used as normal saucepans or stockpots).
- a stainless steel steamer basket with a support trivet
- a full-color recipe book and an instruction manual
This is a stove top pressure cooker and it works on all types of cooking surfaces – electric cookers, gas cookers, cookers with ceramic tops and so on. When pressure-cooking, the handle locks in place so that you cannot open it while it is hot and the pressure is high, and there is a visual pressure indicator and an automatic release valve.
The stainless steel interior makes it easy to clean (they recommend hand washing), and you get a ten year warranty with this set. Note these are sturdy pans with a bit of weight.
If you do a lot of normal cooking in addition to pressure cooking, then this is the perfect all in one set for you, as the size of the pots are adequate for most families, and when pressure-cooking, you can pick the size that suits what you are cooking best. It also makes a nice house warming gift.
Fagor is a Spanish based company with branches across the world, including in the USA. They have some free pressure cooker recipes on their website – see here