Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let's talk Pressure Cookers

Pressure Cookers are a busy, forgetful mom's best friend. Well, right up there with a phone and pizza coupon that is. ;) So exactly what is pressure cooking?

Taken from the great source of all trivial knowledge, Wikipedia,
Pressure cooking is a method of cooking in a sealed vessel that does not permit air or liquids to escape below a preset pressure. Because water's boiling point increases as the pressure increases, the pressure built up inside the cooker allows the liquid in the pot to rise to a higher temperature before boiling.
This build up of heat and pressure allows you to cook much faster. Plus, the moisture is retained so the contents stay moist. Sounds dangerous, doesn't it? Well, I love flirting with danger (not really). Today's modern pressure cooker is very safe.

Here are some things I like about my pressure cooker.

  • I don't worry about bacteria growing from putting in frozen food like I do with my other favorite cooking device, the slow cooker. Because you cook food so fast, there is little time for the food to be in the "danger" zone. Think of putting in a solid frozen roast in your slow cooker. It takes a long time to defrost and then cook that roast (like, hours!). It would be done from start to finish in a pressure cooker in an hour.
  • I can cook vegetables uber-quick (probably not a word). For instance, dilled baby carrots were on this weeks menu. I cooked them, on the stove in under 10 minutes, that includes the time to bring the vessel up to pressure. And they tasted like they had been in the slow cooker all day.
  • I save money and time. For instance, all beans I make are now from dried beans. Love that! Even "refried" beans are now made from scratch. Although, one might argue that my refried bean recipe is actually a pureed bean recipe...Whatever, it tastes as good as the restaurant's! (I'll share this recipe next week).
  • I use it for: meats (all kinds), vegetables (think fast mashed potatoes!), rice (brown rice and wild!) and I know I can also make desserts in it. Soon I will try the cheesecake recipe Lorna Sass has in her book. Mmmmmmm......
Lorna Sass is the queen of pressure cooking. If you invest in a pressure cooker, then I highly, HIGHLY suggest buying one of her books. I own Pressure Perfect. There are many great recipes in it along with what I feel is invaluable information - the timing charts. She also explains in great detail the ins and outs of pressure cooking. And for any vegetarians out there, she has vegetarian specific cookbooks as well.

Once you get the idea of how it works, you can transform almost any recipe to be suited for the pressure cooker. That's what I did with the black bean soup recipe I made last week. So I say, give it a try! Learn something new! Save yourself some time! Invest money now to save money later.


Jena9286 said...

Can you recommend a good pressure cooker?? You have me intriqued.

Garden Girl said...

Hey Jen!

I have a Fagor brand one. If you click the hyper-link in the body of this post then you can go to Amazon's listing for it. Mike got mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond with a 20 percent off coupon ;) I wouldn't suggest an old fashion "jiggle" top one - those don't have the same safety features.

Just Another SAHM said...

Thanks for the info!
This sounds like it would be a fantastic tool to have in addition to the OAMC I'm getting ready to try. To be able to make brown rice, steam veggies & put dried beans to use so quickly would be fabulous for sides alone!
I know what is going on my wish list! lol