Perfect Under Pressure-Electric Pressure Cooking
By Lisa Barker
As promised here are some of the highlights (besides all the yummy things we ate--Yum!) and tips she taught about:
- Pressure cooking is just what the name says--cooking foods under pressure. You cook foods at a lower temperature, but under much higher pressure than in conventional cooking.
- You can cook virtually anything in a pressure cooker--from meats and main courses to rice and potatoes to vegetables of every description up to and including dessert. We had some bread pudding that was DIVINE!
- You preserve more nutrients by cooking under pressure than letting vitamins escape in air or water.
- Read the owner's manual before cooking.
- Even pieces mean evenly cooked food. Food should be cut into uniform-sized pieces so that they cook in the same amount of time.
- Don't fill the pressure cooker with too much food. Never fill the pressure cooker more than two-thirds full with food. Never pack the food tightly into the pressure cooker.
- Don't overdo the liquid. Because food cooks in a closed, sealed pot when cooking under pressure, you'll have less evaporation and should therefore use less cooking liquid than when cooking in a conventional pot. Regardless of what you're cooking, always use enough liquid. A good rule of thumb is at least 1 cup of liquid, however, read the owner's manual or recipe booklet to see exactly what the pressure cooker manufacturer recommends.
- It's also important to remember that the pot never be filled more than halfway with liquid.
- Brown meats, poultry, and even some veggies (like chopped onions, peppers, or carrots) first and then deglaze the pot for more intense flavor. Add a small amount of oil, like olive or canola oil, to the pressure cooker and heat, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Add the food in small batches and brown the food on all sides. Remove and deglaze the pan with a small amount of broth, wine, or even water. Add the remaining ingredients and cook under pressure.
- High altitude means longer cooking times. You may have to increase the cooking times if you live at an elevation of 3,000 feet above sea level or higher.
- Use stop-and-go batch cooking for perfect results. When making a recipe that contains ingredients that cook at different times, begin by partially cooking slow-to-cook foods such as meat first. Then use a quick-release method to stop the pressure cooker. Next, add the faster-cooking ingredients (like green beans or peas) to the meat. Bring the pot back up to pressure again and finish everything up together at the same time.
- Set a timer! Once the pressure cooker reaches and maintains pressure, have a kitchen timer handy and set it for the cooking time specified in the recipe or in the recommended cooking time chart.
- Release that pressure. When the food is done cooking under pressure, use an appropriate pressure release method, according to the recipe you're making.
- To convert recipes into Electric Pressure Cookers reduce the liquid in the original recipe by half. Stove top and conventional oven recipes use more liquid to accommodate for evaporation during cooking; this does not occur in a pressure cooker. If halving the liquid reduces it to less than 1/2 cup, add 1/2 cup of water to produce that steam necessary during pressure cooking.
- To convert recipes into Electric Pressure Cookers reduce cooking time to a third of the cooking time in the original recipe. Start timing the recipe in the pressure cooker after it has reached 15 PSI, or pounds per square inch. Your electric pressure cooker will have an LED display to indicate the level of pressure.
- Eliminate the following foods from your pressure cooker recipes: cranberries, applesauce, pearled barley, cereals including oatmeal, split peas, pasta, and rhubarb. These foods can foam during pressure cooking and could clog the cooker, causing damage. Cook these items separately if desired and add them to the meal after pressure cooking is complete.
- Pressure cooking does require some adjustments from conventional cooking but following the recommendations from the owner's manuals and the tips listed here for best pressure cooking results.
There are several classes this month. Come learn something new or share your knowledge with us :)