What Are the Safety Dos and Don’ts of Using a Pressure Cooker
The first-ever pressure cooker came into existence in the 17th century. However, this modern kitchen staple only became popular in home kitchens after 1938. Until then, cooks used other methods for slow cooking, such as using a Dutch oven or some other heavy pot.
Today, the humble pressure cooker has become a must-have in every household. This utensil is popular due to the variety of benefits it offers. These include faster cooking time, nutrient retention, and richer flavors.
Whatever the reason, it is equally true that pressure cooking food to perfection is as much a technique as it is an art. There are certain safety rules one must follow to ensure they not only prepare scrumptious meals but do so safely.
In this article, we will focus on the safe cooking aspect of pressure cookers. Keep reading to discover useful dos and don’ts of cooking food in a pressure cooker.
Table of Contents
Pressure Cooker Dos to Follow
Before we dive into the cooking part, let’s start with the pressure cooker’s brand and make. It is important to choose a pressure cooker sold by a reputed and reliable manufacturer because design defects can be disastrous.
There have been numerous pressure cooker explosion incidents due to manufacturing or design defects. The injuries sustained due to such incidents can be fatal or debilitating. This is why the utensil’s durability matters. After purchasing the right pressure cooker, keep in the following dos of cooking.
Read the Instruction Manual
Though designed for a singular purpose, every pressure cooker is different in its own right. It comes with an instruction manual with all the information that is needed to use it safely.
Start by reading the instruction manual thoroughly. For instance – identify where the steam valve is located. Understand when to open the lid, how to know the pressure cooker has cooled down enough, etc.
Following the safety rules mentioned in the instruction manual will ensure you do not have an accident while cooking.
Start with Easy Recipes
Is pressure-cooking food one of the easiest ways to prepare meals? Yes, but the process can seem a bit intimidating at the beginning. There are a plethora of recipes you can cook in your pressure cooker. However, the key is to start slowly and maintain consistency.
Consider cooking only easy-to-cook one-pot meals as a beginner. Once you’re comfortable using the pressure cooker, you can hop onto more complex delicacies.
Add Sufficient Liquid
The pressure cooker functions on the principle of building up steam that can create enough pressure for the food to cook. There must be enough liquid for the inside contents to cook perfectly.
The general rule of thumb is to add at least one cup of liquid to the items (unless mentioned otherwise in the recipe). This should help create the right amount of steam needed to cook the meal.
Use it to Cook Relevant Meals
There are certain cooking methods you should not try in a pressure cooker. One example would be deep frying. This utensil is not designed for it; it runs on the principle of using moisture to cook the food.
Deep frying can cause the hot oil to splutter, thereby leading to severe burns and injuries. So, stick to recipes that are relevant to a pressure cooker. These would include water-based items like rice, stews, cheesecakes, soups, and curries.
Pressure Cooker Don’ts to Avoid
Now, let’s discuss some things that you must avoid at all costs while cooking with a pressure cooker. Let’s start with regular checks and maintenance of the cooker. If you suspect any part needs to be replaced, do so at the earliest.
It may later become the cause of an unfortunate explosion. According to TorHoerman Law, improper lids or seals, faulty gaskets or wiring, and digital malfunction are common causes of an instant pot explosion. The aftermath is less than desirable (to say the least).
Don’t Release the Pressure Prematurely
This one has to do with both safety and proper food preparation. Check the recipe and follow what it says with regards to releasing the steam. Some recipes may call for manual release of pressure. However, most will encourage the natural release of steam.
Releasing the steam before its time can not only leave the food undercooked, but the hot steam can cause burns. Even if you need to release the pressure manually, ensure you use kitchen tongs and maintain adequate distance from the utensil.
Don’t Open the Cooker Mid-Cooking
It’s a good thing that modern electric pressure cookers are designed in a way that it is impossible to open them while cooking. This is because the pressure is building up inside and can lead to an explosion.
Even so, never attempt to open the pressure cooker’s lid while its contents are cooking. If you need to do so, turn off the power supply and let the pressure release naturally before opening the lid.
Don’t Overfill the Pressure Cooker
The pressure cooker is not designed to be filled with food up to its brim. This will prevent the steam from releasing or building up too much pressure inside.
The ideal thing to do would be to only fill two-thirds of the cooker with food. If it’s an item that will froth (such as oats or cranberry sauce), cut down the level to half. Such foods require quicker pressure release.
Don’t Add Thickeners to the Food
Pressure cookers work based on the liquid you add inside the cooker to generate steam. This means there is no need to add thickeners like cornstarch or roux (before the cooking process has begun).
Doing so will interfere with the way the food is cooked since less steam is released from a thicker liquid. If you must add a thickener to prepare a stew or sauce, do so after the cooking process is complete.
Finally, if you’re new to the concept of a pressure cooker, do not let the uncertainty overwhelm or scare you. Moreover, you should not allow a single bad experience to become the reason you give up. It is natural to take time before you have a good grasp of a pressure cooker’s functionality and cooking process.
Keep cooking till you figure out the basics and what fits within your cooking routine. Before you know it, you will be preparing delicacies you never thought were possible with a pressure cooker.