A pressure cooker is a must-have kitchen tool for preparing quick meals for your family. It makes light work of labor-intensive processes while developing the characteristic flavors and textures of food. For beans, soups, risotto and other meals, a pressure cooker can cut the cooking time by more than 70 percent. Modern pressure cookers have come a long way from the screeching and exploding pressure cookers of the past. They're as silent as can be and include built-in safety features to prevent excess pressure buildup. Locking handles keep pressure in until you're ready to let it out. Today, there are more benefits than dangers of using a pressure cooker for food preparation.
You should own a pressure cooker if you live and cook at high altitudes. A pressure cooker helps a high-altitude cook achieve the otherwise impossible. At higher altitudes, the boiling temperature of water goes down but a pressure cooker raises the temperature at which water boils for quick and thorough cooking.
Beans are a staple in vegetarian diets. While you can leave your beans cooking all day in the slow cooker, the results are much better when you use a pressure cooker. Unlike the slow cooker, pressurized beans retain their distinctive flavor and won't fall apart. Chickpeas, red beans and lima beans require a few hours of cooking in a traditional pot but can cook in 15 to 30 minutes in a pressure cooker.
The pressure cooker first gained recognition for its vitamin-saving feature. In spite of the quick cook-time, or perhaps because of it, pressure cookers help foods retain their essential vitamins and minerals. Your vegetables will come out colorful, crisp and tasty. Meats remain juicy and tender. Pressure cookers intensify the foods' natural flavors so you'll use less salt and artificial flavors.
Make a one-pot dish in your pressure cooker for energy efficient cooking. Since foods cook 70 times faster than traditional cooking methods, you'll use less energy for preparing a meal. That's good news if you're looking for ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills. In terms of clean-up related energy efficiency, you'll have fewer pots and pans to wash, and you won't have to deal with the stains and splatters on your stovetop.
Cooler Kitchen during Summer
Summertime is usually a good time to turn down your pots and eat out. Pressure cookers hold heat and steam in, so they'll keep your kitchen cool when you're cooking during the hot summer months.
Some models are pressure cookers-canners in one. Use your dual-function pressure cooker to preserve low-acid foods like vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood at higher temperatures. While you can use a water bath, low-acid foods need higher temperatures for canning, so a pressure cooker/canner is a worthwhile investment if you do a lot of canning.
Pressure cooking helps families eat healthy, but it's not an end-all solution. Choose healthy ingredients and watch your portion sizes, and your pressure cooker will be an essential tool in your healthy living toolbox.
Karen Mullins is a self-confessed foodie. She's always looking for new ways to prepare meals, and when she finds it, she shares it online. You can read her informative articles on many entertaining, food and cooking websites.