Important Lessons in Pressure Cooking for Women

After the stove-top pressure cookers, in 1991 came the electric pressure cookers, called the "third generation" pressure cookers.

These include an electric heat source that is automatically regulated to maintain the operating pressure. They also include a spring-loaded valve. This pressure cooker type cannot be opened with a cold water quick-release method and should be operated with caution when releasing vapour through the valve, especially while cooking foamy foods and liquids (lentils, beans, grains, milk, gravy, etc.)

An electric pressure cookers integrates a timer. Depending on cooking control capability, there are three generations of electric pressure cookers:

• 1st Generation with mechanical timer. There is no delayed cooking capability.

• 2nd Generation with digital controller. Delayed cooking becomes possible and the controller shows a count-down timer when working pressure is reached.

• 3rd Generation with smart programming. Smart Programming includes pre-set cook times and settings, based on heating intensity, temperature, pressure and duration. Programmable electric pressure cookers have become as intuitive to use as the microwave.

• Electric pressure cookers offer one big advantage over stovetop models: You don’t have to watch the pot—you can set it and walk away. And many models will produce great food in your absence, too. But we’ve found electric models to have several disadvantages.

1. Convenience at What Cost:

First, they usually hold only 6 quarts—probably because their surrounding housing makes them quite large—whereas the more practical capacity of an 8-quart cooker is more preferred. Inside electric pressure cookers, food actually cooks in a small liner pot, like that of a rice cooker. These pots have a non-stick coating, which is far less durable than stainless steel stovetop modelsand the pots are light, slippery, and unanchored, so they spun around as we stirred food. Because they lack handles, they also felt dangerous when we needed to pour off hot liquid. Their heating elements are weaker than those of a stove, so browning food in them can be challenging. And all switch to “keep warm” mode after cooking. While this seems good, the downside is that many recipes call for a quick release of pressure to stop cooking.

So, you have to return just when cooking is done to vent steam and manually shut off the pot, or food will overcook. We also discovered that they can switch to “keep warm” mode during cooking when there’s not enough liquid in the pot—a problem when cooking large pieces of meat such as a whole chicken or meatloaf. And storage is an issue: Electric cookers take up a lot of space compared with stovetop models, which can also be used as regular stockpots or saucepans.

2. The Best Electric Pressure Cookers:

Given these factors, stovetop models are much preferred, but if you want an electric cooker, albeit with caveats, our winner, which was easiest to use, cooked best, and lost the least amount of liquid through evaporation is recommended.

Electric pressure cookers have been around for years, but have yet to go mainstream in the world. That’s really unfortunate as these little fellas do more than just make pot roast in under an hour. Most of these will take the place of other appliances as well, with functions that turn them into slow cookers, rice cookers, and even yogurt makers! This top-of-the-line model even comes with built in Bluetooth, so you can program the appliance directly from your iPhone, and monitor it as it cooks!

3. Important Lessons in Pressure Cooking

1. Timing how long something will take to cook

This is where your cooking intuition generally goes out the window. Don't let that freak you out. Cooking time will vary depending on the PSI of your low and high pressure setting of your electric pressure cooker. You should refer to your electric pressure cooker manual for the general cooking times of whatever you want to make.

If something is underdone, it's easy to fix: just add a couple more minutes and bring your cooker back to pressure.

2. The minimum and maximum liquid or food required

Your electric pressure cooker will require a minimum amount of liquid to work, as well as a maximum amount of food and liquid that it can hold. This should be clearly marked in your manual. Generally, you shouldn't fill your electric pressure cooker more than 2/3 full.

3. Don't try to open the pressure cooker while cooking!

Most modern electric pressure cookers make it impossible for someone to open the cooker while internal pressure exceeds outside pressure. But regardless – just don't attempt to open it while in use. Turn off your pressure cooker if you need to, and release pressure before opening.

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