In Praise of Pressure Cooking

Pressure cookers have been used for centuries around the world and are coming back into use. Many use pressure cookers for canning but my grandparents used them for cooking.  A chuck roast made in a pressure cooker just melts in your mouth.  Sear/brown the meat in butter or olive oil in the bottom of the cooker, add onion, bay leaf and carrot, put on the lid and turn up the heat. Why a pressure cooker?

Unlike other gadgets which rise in popularity due to changing technology, pressure cookers and pressure cooker recipes are becoming highly pertinent in the 21st century due to the changing times. That’s because the features that originally made pressure cookers one of the handiest cooking tools are more important now than ever. pressure cookers save energy, save time and open the doors to thousands of healthy, flavorful pressure cooker recipes that retain the nutritious vitamins and minerals in their all-natural ingredients. [Pressure Cooker Recipes]

What is a pressure cooker? How does it work?  There is an excellent Wikipedia article on that here.

Here is an assemblage  of models available at Macy’s and They start at Amazon at $25.00.

Presto 02160 Pressure Cooker, Stainless Steel Electric 

Fagor "Elite" Pressure Cooker, 6 Qt.  

Reg. $90.00
Sale $69.99
Fagor "Elite" Pressure Cooker Set  

Reg. $150.00
Sale $119.99
Fagor Commercial Stainless Steel 4-Piece Multi Steamer/Cooker Set, 8 Qt.  

The following is from Wikipedia:

Pressure cookers are generally made from aluminium or stainless steel. The former may be stamped and buffed or anodized, but this metal is unsuitable for the dishwasher. Higher quality stainless steel pressure cookers are made with heavy, three-ply, or copper-clad bottom (heat spreader) for uniform heating, since stainless steel has lower thermal conductivity. Most modern units are dishwasher safe, although some manufacturers may recommend washing by hand.

A gasket or sealing ring forms a gas-tight seal which does not allow air or steam to escape between the pot and the lid; normally, the only way the steam can escape is through a regulator on the lid when the pressure has built up. In case the regulator is blocked, a safety valve is provided as a backup escape route for steam. The simplest safety valve is a loose-fitting rubber plug in the lid, held in place by steam pressure. If the pressure exceeds design limits, the plug pops out of its seat.

To seal the gasket, some pressure cookers have a lid lock with flanges, similar to a bayonet-style lens mount, that works by placing the lid on the pot and twisting it about 30° to lock it in place. Contemporary designs of this style of cooker also have a pressure-activated interlock mechanism that prevents the lid from being removed while the cooker is pressurized.[

Safety features

Pressure cookers have a reputation as a dangerous method of cooking with the risk of explosion. Early pressure cookers equipped with only a primary safety valve were at risk of explosion if poorly maintained, allowing food residues to contaminate the release valve. Modern pressure cookers typically have two or three independent safety valves, as well as some additional safety features, such as an interlock to prevent opening the lid while internal pressure exceeds atmospheric pressure. However there is still a risk of explosion, especially if cookers are not thoroughly and regularly maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

The primary safety valve or regulator usually takes the form of a weighted stopper, commonly called “the rocker,” or “vent weight”. This weighted stopper is lifted by the steam pressure, allowing excess pressure to be relieved. There is a backup pressure release mechanism that may employ any of several different techniques to release pressure quickly if the primary pressure release mechanism fails (for example, if food jams the steam discharge path). One such method is in the form of a hole in the lid blocked by a plug of low melting point alloy; another is a rubber grommet with a metal insert at the center. At a sufficiently high pressure, the grommet will distort and the insert will blow out of its mounting hole, relieving the pressure. If the pressure gets still higher, the grommet itself will blow out. A common safety feature is the design of the gasket, which expands and releases excess pressure downward between the lid and the pot.



8 thoughts on “In Praise of Pressure Cooking

  1. Oh I’ve been wanting one of these for ages! No idea how to use one though, have some bad memories of the time I sealed the lid on my Aunt’s as she was cooking dinner, because I didn’t realize it was supposed to make that hissing noise. Oh my! The ceiling wasn’t too damaged.


  2. Ever do any canning SH? That’s something I’ve been wanting to learn more about. I need to buy a cooker too.

    Always remember my Grandmo & Mom cooking with a pressure cooker. And their warnings of how dangerous they were.


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