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Tips for cooking with a pressure cooker

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Pressure cooker tips

Pressure cookers are a low-energy, high-flavor, healthy way of cooking that will save you both time and money. Popular during the Depression and with past generations, pressure cookers are regaining their place in the kitchen. Even better, modern pressure cookers are far easier and safer to use than their older counterparts. Cooking foods under pressure can certainly be daunting if you’re new to the cooking technique. However, if you follow these pressure cooking tips, you’ll quickly master the art and great taste of pressure cooking.


Follow the manufacturer's instructions to release pressure

When adding foods into an already cooking pot, or when your cook time is complete, follow the manual instructions to release the pressure. A natural release is accomplished by simply removing the pot from the heat. A quick release requires you to run cold water over the lid until the pressure is decreased. Some pressure cooker models have an automatic release feature.


Watch your pressure

Until you learn how your pressure cooker and stovetop interact, watch your pressure and make sure it doesn't rise too high. If it does, reduce your stovetop heat.


Start your cook time countdown

Since pressure cookers rapidly cook food, you may not have a lot of time from start to finish. Start counting your cook time as soon as your pressure cooker reaches full pressure, or the PSI stated in a recipe. You may need to underestimate cook times initially to ensure you don't overcook your food. Once you master your pressure cooker, you'll have a better idea of how closely its cook times follow a recipe. If you live at altitudes above 2,000 feet, you may need to increase cook times.


Check your pressure cooker

Before every use, inspect your pressure cooker to make sure all working parts are in order and that the gasket ring isn't cracked. Do not use a pressure cooker that isn't in perfect condition.


Wash and store properly

Follow the manufacturer's directions to wash your pressure cooker. Be sure it is fully dried before storing it and do not seal the lid before storing.

You can cook just about anything in a pressure cooker, from vegetable and grain side dishes to hearty meats and stews. Once you see how efficiently a pressure cooker gets food onto your table, you'll wonder why you waited so long to start using one.

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