Pressure cookers adapt best to recipes that normally use a moist cooking method such as soups, stews, tough cuts of meats, artichokes, steamed puddings, etc. Add vegetables at the end to avoid a mushy result. Generally, cooks in high altitudes over 3,500 feet should increase cooking times by about ten percent. Liquid is an important part of pressure-cooking. The amount of liquid necessary will vary depending on the manufacturer. Some will require as little as one-half cup of liquid and others up to two cups.
When storing your pressure cooker, be sure to store it with the lid completely detached and to the side of the pot. If you store it closed, you will trap smells and odors inside the pot to greet you on your next usage. Thoroughly wash the rubber seal and rub it with mineral oil after each use to preserve it. The rubber seal should last through about 150 meals. Store the valve and rubber seal (if not attached) inside the cooker.
Pressure Cooker Tips and Hints
Pressure-cooking is really fairly simple, but here are a few important tips to remember:
- Most importantly, be familiar with the owner's manual for your particular cooker. Read it thoroughly and follow all manufacturer's recommendations.
- You can use more liquid than recommended but never use less.
- Read and understand the recipe before you begin.
- Be sure the lid is properly closed and locked into position before developing pressure.
- Use that timer! Timing as important as developing pressure.
- Once you have reduced pressure according to directions, shake the pot before opening the seal to readjust the inner temperature.
- Cut the same foods into pieces of uniform size to promote even cooking. When mixing foods, cut those that cook more quickly into larger pieces and those that cook more slowly into smaller pieces.
- If your recipe calls for browning or searing as a preliminary step, be sure to scrape up the brown bits clinging to the bottom so they are loose when you add the liquid. This will discourage scorching.
- Since flavors are more concentrated with this cooking method, you may want to reduce herbs and seasonings when converting conventional recipes. Choose fresh herbs over dried herbs.
- If you end up with too much liquid, simply cook in the uncovered pot until the liquids are reduced to your satisfaction.
- If you desire the flavors of foods to mix, let them come into contact with the liquid which transmits flavors. If you do not wish flavors to mix, place individual foods on a rack above the liquid. Steam does not transmit or mix flavors.
- When cooking dried beans, cereal grains, lentils, split peas, rice or other foods that absorb liquid and expand, do not fill the cooker more than half full to avoid the potential of clogging the vent during the cooking process. The normal fill line is two-thirds.
- Bring the recipe to the boil before closing the lid to facilitate quicker pressurization and reduce the chances of burning the food.