The 10 Best Electric Pressure Cookers
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in July of 2015. Keep your cool in the kitchen with one of these energy-efficient electric pressure cookers that use the power of pressurized steam to simulate the effects of long-simmering, braising and other slow-cook methods in a fraction of the usual time. They're ideal for preparing rice, meats, chili, vegetables and soups, but with a little creativity, you can use them to prepare almost any meal. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best electric pressure cooker on Amazon.
May 10, 2019:
Top marks in this category go to devices with multiple safety features and a wide range of programmable automatic settings, so busy families and less-experienced cooks can enjoy the set-it-and-forget-it ease of use, while more adventurous home chefs can play around with the parameters to produce all sorts of culinary magic. Although the Instant Pot still dominates, rival products from Mueller, Mealthy and Cuisinart are competitively priced and offer appealing perks like included accessories and nonstick cooking surfaces.
The Advent Of The Pressure Cooker
The first US patent for a pressure cooker was issued in 1902, with the first models being huge industrial-sized versions.
It was the first pressure cooker ever developed for home use and its success led to intense competition from other manufacturers, most notably National Presto Industries.
Pressure cookers were first developed in the late 1600s by a French physicist named Denis Papin. He is most known for his studies on steam pressure, and is the one to have first suggested the concept of a cylinder and piston steam engine. He also created a paddle-wheel-driven steamship, but for the chefs of the world, none of his inventions are more important than the pressure cooker. In his attempts to make food cook faster, he devised a way to use steam pressure to raise the boiling point of water. He named his invention the Steam Digester.
The first US patent for a pressure cooker was issued in 1902, with the first models being huge industrial-sized versions. At the time they were called canner retorts. In 1915, the term pressure cooker made its first appearance in print, and in 1917, the United States Department of Agriculture decided that they were the only safe method for preserving low acid foods and meats.
Alfred Vischer started selling the Flex-Seal Speed Cooker in 1938, which he actually patented in 1919. It was the first pressure cooker ever developed for home use and its success led to intense competition from other manufacturers, most notably National Presto Industries. They produced their own pressure cooker and displayed it at the 1939 World's Fair in New York. They called it the Presto because of its ability to cook food so much quicker than traditional methods.
The Science Behind Pressure Cookers
If you have done much cooking, especially at different elevations, you may have noticed that sometimes cooking times are different at high elevations than when compared to sea level. Most of us know that water boils at 212°F, but this is an estimate and only applies to water being boiled at sea level. At 4,000 feet up, water boils at 204.3°F, and at 8,000 feet up it boils at just 196.9°F. This is due to the lower pressure at higher elevations, which allows water molecules to escape the surface more easily.
Most of us know that water boils at 212°F, but this is an estimate and only applies to water being boiled at sea level.
If you were to try and apply more heat to water boiling at 212°F when it is at sea level, it won't increase the temperature of the water, it only increases the rate at which it escapes the surface. Nothing can make the water hotter than 212°F, at normal atmospheric pressure as once it surpasses that, it evaporates into steam.
Now if you were to take that same water and bring it to a location where there is a higher atmospheric pressure, like the inside of a pressure cooker, it would be able to get hotter before boiling. This is the principal pressure cookers work on and because the water is hotter, they are able to cook food faster.
As heat is applied to the closed container of a pressure cooker, the water begins to boil and releases steam into the air. This, in conjunction with the external heat source, cause the molecules in the air to vibrate more rapidly, which causes more pressure on the surface of the liquid. The average pressure cooker increases the atmospheric pressure inside the container by 15 pounds over normal sea level pressure. This pressure difference makes it so that the boiling point of water increases from 212°F to 250°F.
Benefits Of Using A Pressure Cooker
The benefit of a pressure cooker comes down to one thing; speed. Considering that time is one of our most precious resources, this is invaluable. For most of us who barely get home from work in time to cook a healthy meal for ourselves or our family, the idea of cooking a pork belly, a brisket, or any other cut of meat on a weeknight is out of the question. By using a pressure cooker, one can cook a beautiful and perfectly tender pork belly in just 40 minutes, as opposed to three hours or more in the traditional method.
Being able to cook cuts of meat that we would not normally have time to is also a big money saver. Consider the average prices for different cuts of meat. If you wanted a nice, tender steak for dinner, you would most likely choose a tenderloin or a rib-eye. In bulk shopping store like Sam's Club, tenderloin steaks run about $14 a pound, and rib-eyes run $9 a pound. It's not uncommon to see double that at your standard neighborhood grocery store. In a pressure cooker, you can make a chuck steak that comes out just as tender as a tenderloin, but it will only cost you $5.50 a pound at Sam's Club as opposed to spending $14 for the tenderloin or $9 for the rib-eye. This makes feeding a family much more affordable. In addition to saving money on the cuts of meat you are buying, you will also use 50% to 75% less energy to cook your meal because of the shorter cooking times.
Electric pressure cookers are ideal as many of them allow for the user to adjust the pressure. This makes them better at cooking delicate foods like puddings or risottos than a traditional pressure cooker. They can also be used to quick soak beans at lower pressures, before increasing the pressure for cooking.
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