10 Best Pressure Cookers | March 2017
- easy-to-clean regulator valve
- no cheap rubber gaskets
- not as easy as electric models
- includes a steaming rack
- delayed start for up to 24 hours
- vent does not get blocked by food
- includes a glass lid
- comes with a steamer basket
- perfect for electric stoves
- over-pressure gasket release window
- variable control operating valve
- dishwasher-safe pot
- pressure ranges of 5 to 15 psi
- broad grip for easy handling
- made in the usa
- steams vegetables in under 3 minutes
- doubles as a yogurt maker
- 14 built-in smart programs
- fast and even heating
- 12-year warranty
- high-end quality at a low price
High Pressure With Less Stress
Most people who enjoy cooking have an arsenal of utensils at their disposal to get the job done. Both home and professional chefs have a passion for creating delicious meals for themselves, their families, their guests, and friends. While there's nothing wrong with using an oven or soup pot on top of a burner to make a hot meal, those aren't the only ways to cook these days. Perhaps you'd like the benefit of rapidly cooking a wide variety of foods in other ways besides using a conventional burner or the heat of an oven. The pressure cooker can be quite a useful alternative for this purpose.
As its name implies, a pressure cooker is a semi-sealed cooking pot that operates through the buildup of internal steam pressure to prepare foods faster than they would ordinarily be prepared from inside an oven or on a stovetop. The majority of pressure cookers are ideal for preparing meals with liquids such as water, wine, broth, or stock. The act of sealing these liquids inside the pot traps the vapor they release as the internal temperature of the vessel rises.
This rise in temperature also increases the degree of internal pressure that is infused into whatever food is being prepared while the maximum possible temperature is also increased, thereby cooking a meal faster than more conventional methods. This may explain why that delicious beef stew you've prepared is so flavorful, moist, and ready to serve ahead of schedule. The amount of internal pressure inside the vessel is inversely proportional to the amount of time it takes to prepare a meal. The higher the pressure, the less time it takes to get dinner on the table.
Pressure cookers are usually constructed from either aluminum or stainless steel. Stainless steel cookers are typically more durable and less reactive to acidic foods than aluminum cookers. These vessels have several parts and accessories, including a steamer basket for holding food, a trivet for keeping the steamer basket above the liquid inside, a spring-loaded valve for controlling the release of excess steam and regulating pressure, and a sealing ring (or rubber gasket) for retaining heat. The lid on a pressure cooker locks into place against the side of the pot, while its handle also locks to prevent the lid from opening when food is under pressure. The vessel has a standard operating pressure up to fifteen pounds per square inch (PSI). Under this level of pressure, water boils at two hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit.
So what types of things can actually go into a pressure cooker? The short answer is a lot. For example, rice and beans can be quickly prepared, meats can be tenderized, and the infusion of both heat and moisture makes the flavors of one's food more intense. Foods prepared in this fashion also retain a greater percentage of their nutrients and vitamins than they would when boiled or commercially processed, adding an important health benefit to the pot. Finally, the vessel has an impressive degree of versatility. It can be used as a dutch oven, steamer, sauce pan, and even a baking pan.
Some of the best pressure cookers available feature automatic pressure release functionality, which makes preparing meals easier and safer than ever before. If you're a busy parent, finding a vessel with the most cutting-edge technology and a large capacity for liquids and food are both important considerations.
The ability to monitor and adjust the pot's settings is also beneficial. For that reason, pots with programmable and intuitive push-button displays will come in quite handy. One must also be sure that the pot's sealing system is durable and reliable as well.
Consider the size of your kitchen and other appliances you have available to you when making your decision, as some pots are even compatible with induction cooktops.
If cooking quickly isn't your only source of motivation for investing in a pressure cooker, then you can also find available models with multiple operating modes for slow cooking and making thick sauces.
Finally, one must be sure that the handles make the vessel comfortable and easy to carry without any chance of overheating.
A Brief History Of Pressure Cookers
The earliest known attempt at pressure cooking was made by French physicist Denis Papin who was most well known for his work on steam engines. Papin invented what he referred to as a steam digester in 1679. This airtight cooking device used steam pressure to increase the boiling point of water. In 1809, French confectioner Nicolas Appert invented a canning process for packing food in clean jars with a cork and cooking them in boiling water for food preservation. Although not an actual pressure cooker, Appert's preservation method helped to develop the overall science of pressure cooking itself.
By 1864, pressure cookers made from tin cast iron were manufactured by Georg Gutbrod of Stuttgart. In 1917, the United States Department of Agriculture determined that pressure canning was the only safe method of preserving low-acid foods without causing food poisoning. With this information, homeowners began to recognize the benefits of using their pressure canners to cook foods more quickly.
By 1918, Jose Alix Martínez was granted a patent for the pressure cooker, which he named olla exprés, meaning express cooking pot. Martínez later published the very first pressure cooking pot recipe book in 1924 that included 360 unique ideas for preparing food in the vessel.
In 1938, Alfred Vischler introduced the first saucepan-style pressure cooker for home use in New York City, which he called the Flex-Seal Speed Cooker. Popularity of the vessel took off with even greater success in 1939 when National Presto Industries released its first pressure cooker at the New York World's Fair. By 1941, eleven companies were manufacturing pressure cookers for the home consumer market.
Following World War Two, stamped aluminum cookers became more common for those on tight budgets during the 1950s. Both contemporary styling and the addition of extra safety features were introduced in the 1970s, such as an interlocking cover that prevented the user from opening the vessel without first reducing the amount of pressure inside it. Today, the United States standard for pressure cookers continues to be the type equipped with a weighted valve regulator.