I love my pressure cooker. I’ve owned one for many years and would never be without one. When people ask me, are pressure cookers worth buying, I always answer with an emphatic yes!
Pressure cookers are worth buying because using one will help you to save money on your grocery bill, reduce energy bills and produce tastier food in less time.
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How do pressure cookers work?
Pressure cookers work by creating pressure inside a sealed pot to twice that of our normal atmosphere. Due to the pressure change, the food inside the pot can rise above the normal boiling point which makes it cook faster. The heat stays within the pot and is maintained with minimal energy use.
The reduced cooking times makes for a more tasty meal because the flavour doesn’t escape along with the steam. Meat becomes quickly very tender because the connective tissue is broken down by the higher cooking temperature which just isn’t possible normally.
Generally, food cooks in a pressure cooker in about a third of the time or less than for conventional cooking methods. This saves you time and energy whilst at the same time achieving tastier dishes. It’s a win-win on all fronts.
Will a pressure cooker save you money?
Yes, you can save money using a pressure cooker because you will waste less food and you can use cheaper cuts of meat. Pressure cookers cook food more quickly so you need less energy to run them.
Need to save on your electric bill? This post has a ton of tips for you – How To Save Money On An Electric Bill.
I believe you can also save money by buying a mechanical pressure cooker rather than an electric one because there is less to go wrong. I’ve owned the same pressure cooker for over ten years now and it still works perfectly.
Are pressure cookers worth buying?
Now for the big question, are pressure cookers worth it? I know I am biased because I have always owned one. My mum had a pressure cooker for as long as I can remember. As soon as I got my own home, one of the first things I bought for my kitchen was a pressure cooker. I’ve owned only two in my life.
I started out with a small aluminium cooker. When that one started to wear out I immediately purchased a new one. I replaced it with a stainless steel model by Tower which continued to work once I switched to my induction hob. It’s still going strong over ten years later.
We have a caravan and I also bought a small pressure cooker for it so I could quickly cook delicious meals without having to use too much cooking gas.
In my view, a pressure cooker is a very good investment. Here’s why:
You will waste less food
I particularly love making soups in my pressure cooker because it is a chance to use up veg that may have passed its best. Sometimes I have more than I can use, so I make it into soup. This has saved a huge amount of food waste in our house.
Another thing you can do is boil up chicken bones. We often have roast chicken on a Sunday. On the following days, we can have chicken soup made by cooking the chicken carcass in the pressure cooker.
You can cook beans and pulses quickly without having to soak them
Beans and pulses can be bought in cans ready to eat, but it is far cheaper to buy them dried. Plus, the dried sort takes up much less space in the kitchen cupboard.
Dried beans like red kidney beans and chickpeas etc. are a dream to cook in the pressure cooker. You don’t need to think ahead. Simply pressure cook them from raw (no need to soak) for around 30 minutes and then let the pressure release naturally.
Cooking time is much less
I’ve already touched on this when I said how quickly dried beans cook. Generally, you can reduce the cooking time down to about a third. You can cook directly from frozen too.
Christmas puddings and steamed puddings take an age to cook normally. By pressure cooking it I can take the steaming time down from six hours to just two.
Cooking in a pressure cooker is healthier
Food cooked in a pressure cooker is regarded as healthier because more of the nutrients are retained. Cooking time is reduced so there is less time for the goodness to escape along with the steam.
Easy to clean
Pressure cookers are pretty easy to clean. My cooker comes apart easily for cleaning. The rubber gasket comes easily away from the lid so I can wash it separately. You can also take off the pressure value for cleaning. Keeping the valve clean and clear of debris is essential for the safe running of your pressure cooker.
Here’s a handy link from the Prestige site on how to care for your pressure cooker – Cleaning your pressure cooker.
You can cook cheaper cuts of meat
When you cook meat in a pressure cooker it comes out tender and melt-in-the-mouth delicious, as if you had cooked it for hours, when in fact it only took you ten minutes.
You can cook all cuts of meat in a pressure cooker including the cheaper kinds like brisket beef, which is a favourite in our house. The cheaper cuts tend to have more sinew and connective tissue in them which can be chewy and a bit unappetizing when cooked normally. In a pressure cooker, the chewy bits just melt away.
I love to make beef and mushroom pie and I always cook the meat filling in the pressure cooker with a cheap cut of beef, but it still melts in the mouth!
Generally, food cooks in a pressure cooker in about a third of the time. Once the cooker comes up to pressure you must reduce the heat right down. So not only are you using energy for less time you are also using less heat.
Quiet and doesn’t heat the kitchen up
The modern pressure cookers are very quiet indeed. All you hear is a gentle hiss. If you hear more than that it is an indication that you need to turn down the heat.
On a hot summer’s day, using a pressure cooker shouldn’t heat the kitchen as an oven would. If you pair your pressure cooker with an induction hob, there is even less heat involved due to no heat escaping up the sides of the cooker.
Pressure cookers work really well on induction hobs
Once the pressure cooker gets up to pressure I turn down the heat and set the timer on the hob. This means there is no fear of overshooting the cooking time and the pressure cooker will automatically depressurize without me having to watch the clock. I feel pretty confident leaving it to cook and then depressurize without having to keep a constant eye on it.
Are pressure cookers hard to use?
Pressure cookers are very simple to use. In my view, they are far easier to operate than something electrical where you have to figure out what buttons to press! It’s completely mechanical. There are no buttons apart from selecting the level of pressure you require.
There are basically six steps to follow when using a pressure cooker:
- Add food and sufficient liquid.
- Put on the lid and seal.
- Select a pressure (low/medium/high).
- Turn on the heat and bring it up to pressure.
- Turn down the heat and cook for the desired length of time.
- Turn off the heat and wait for the pressure to release naturally or select quick release if your pressure cooker has that function.
Are pressure cookers dangerous?
You may have heard stories of pressure cookers blowing up. You will be glad to hear that modern pressure cookers are loaded with safety features that would prevent that from ever happening. If the pressure gets too high pressure is released automatically so it could never blow up.
My mother’s old pressure cooker used to make a lot of noise as steam was released and it could be quite scary. These days pressure cookers are very quiet. Once they reach pressure you hear a slight hissing noise and that is usually all. If it makes too much noise, then it’s time to turn down the heat.
Here are two safety worries that I had in the beginning:
- It will blow up. Modern pressure cookers have safety features to avoid that from happening.
- It will spew out too much steam when I open it. Modern pressure cookers have a safety catch to prevent you from opening the top until it is safe to do so.
Four absolute best uses for a pressure cooker
Here are the four best uses I know of for getting the best out of your pressure cooker.
- Casseroles and stews - Pressure cookers are just brilliant at tenderising even the cheapest cuts of meat. In 10 minutes you can have a delicious stew that would have taken hours to cook in a saucepan.
- Soups - I love to make soup with whatever I have available. Soups are great for using up old veg that might not be at their best. I’ve even been known to throw in things like wilted salad leaves and cucumber.
- Beans - Pressure cookers are just brilliant for cooking beans. No need to soak, simply add water and cook on high pressure for about 30 minutes.
- Christmas puddings and steamed puddings - I make a Christmas pudding every year and I always cook it in the pressure cooker to save a huge amount of time.
Many people say that they cook rice in their pressure cooker. That’s one thing I have never done because I find it so easy and quick to make the normal way. I prefer the absorption method for cooking white rice. Brown rice can take longer but if you use this quick method to cook your brown rice it will be perfect every time.
What is a good pressure cooker to buy?
I’ve owned my Tower pressure cooker for more than 10 years now and still works fine. It’s made of stainless steel so it works perfectly on all types of hobs including induction hobs.
My particular model isn’t available now which isn’t surprising since it is so old. If I were going to replace it now I would buy this equivalent pressure cooker from Amazon: