What Is Pressure Cooking And How Does It Work?


by Sid Wilson | Published On

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There are several different methods by which you can cook food easily, one of them is pressure cooking. Pressure cooking can be done in a device known as a pressure cooker, it is a highly efficient, easy, and affordable choice.

You can choose from a variety of pressure cookers available in the market such as stove top cookers or electric cookers and prepare a perfect meal for yourself and your loved ones.

All About Pressure Cooking

What Is Pressure Cooking?

Pressure cooking is a process of cooking in which the food is prepared in a sealed pot known as a pressure cooker under high-pressure steam and water or broth.

The high pressure created in the sealed pot limits the boiling of the water which makes the cooking temperature higher, because of this the food gets prepared quickly.

What Is a Pressure Cooker?

A pressure cooker is an airtight cooking pot that uses steam to cook food. In the sealed pot, steam is produced which builds up high pressure and helps the food to cook faster.

The steam in the pot makes moist, soft, and tender food which is good for cooking hard food such as meat or soupy dishes like stews.

There are different types of pressure cookers available in the market such as an electric pressure cookers or a stovetop pressure cookers and some have a mechanism to adjust the temperature and pressure according to your needs.

History Of Pressure Cooking

Pressure cooking was invented in the 1600s by Denis Papin, at first, he called his invention a “steam digester”. It was a closed pot with a fitted lid.

When the food and water in the pot are heated the steam produced from the process gets trapped in the pot which makes the inner pressure of the pot higher.

At first, this model did not have the mechanism of releasing pressure from the pot which resulted in explosions. To prevent explosions from taking place, a steam-release valve was invented.

Nowadays, the first generation pressure cookers have safety designs such as pressure-sensitive locking mechanisms and the ability to adjust the pressure.

The second-generation pressure cooker comes with two different pressure options to choose from with a dial and makes less sound. The third-generation pressure cooker is different from the other two generations.

They work on electricity, it has an electric heat source which maintains the cooking pressure. They come with a timer and digital controllers which helps to make certain types of foods easily.

How Does Pressure Cooking Work?

A pressure cooker is a sealed pot that traps the steam pressure inside the pot to prepare food quickly and has a valve that controls the pressure to be released from the pot.

The steam builds up in the pot which makes the boiling point of water pass 100°C, the higher the cooking temperature gets the faster the food is made.

Because evaporation does not take place in the pot, the flavor of the food stays intact and enhanced.

The high-pressure steam has two major effects-

Raises the boiling point of water-

When cooking simple dishes like stews or steamed vegetables the heat is limited to the boiling point of water which is 100°C but with the steam pressure building up the temperature can get to 121°C or above.

Raises the pressure and makes the food moist-

The pressure cooker uses steam to cook the food which makes tough food like meat more moist and tender and cooks very quickly. The flavor obtained with a pressure cooker is enhanced when compared to normal steamed food.

What Foods Can You Cook In A Pressure Cooker?

You can cook anything in a pressure cooker, but most people around the world mostly use a pressure cooker to cook rice and beans because it can prepare them in a few minutes.

Some more dishes people usually make in a pressure cooker are eggs, meat, pulses, stews, and vegetables. List of dishes you can make in a pressure cooker quickly-

  • Mutton curry
  • Salsa chicken
  • Vegetable stew
  • Honey garlic chicken
  • Eggless banana cake

Some Advantages Of Pressure Cooking

There are three main advantages of pressure cooking over any other method of cooking that is-

  • High Steam Pressure
  • Increased Temperature Due To High Steam Pressure
  • High Energy Regulation

This could be considered as a benefit of cooking dishes using a pressure cooker as it not only decreases the cooking time, it could also increase energy efficiency. 

How To Cool A Pressure Cooker?

There are three methods you can use to make the pressure in the cooker go back down such as natural release, quick release, and cold water release.

  • Natural release: in this method you have to take the cooker off the heat which makes the temperature decrease.
  • Quick release: this method includes removing the valve or pressing a button which then allows the steam to escape. By doing so the cooking stops immediately but the contents of the cooker still boil.
  • Cold water release: in this method you need to run the pressure cooker under cold water until the pressure is released. It is similar to the quick-release method in which you can have your prepared food almost immediately.

You won’t have to wait for the steam to leak out slowly. Keep in mind that this cold water release method cannot be used for an electric pressure cooker.

Difference Between Pressure Cooker And Slow Cooker

The most noticeable difference between a pressure cooker and a slow cooker is speed. In a slow cooker, the food takes a lot of time to be prepared completely at a low temperature.

A slow cooker is good for certain dishes which include meat because it makes it soft and tender, examples of these dishes include: stews, ribs, or pork.

The pressure cooker forms an airtight seal that traps steam in the pot and uses that steam pressure to cook food faster.

You can cook denser food in a pressure cooker easily such as rice, beans, and potatoes. But nowadays pressure cookers come with slow cooker settings as well.

Things To Keep In Mind When Cooking In A Pressure Cooker

Storage

You might want to buy a small pressure cooker if you consider how much storage space you have. As pressure cookers come in different sizes you can choose what suits you the best.

Also, keep in mind how much food you usually make and choose the size of the pressure cooker accordingly.

Learn How To Use It First

after buying the pressure cooker, read its manual so that you know how to operate it. Read the instructions carefully and follow them to prepare your delicious meal.

Start With Simple Dishes

Start by making simple dishes or just water to test your pressure cooker. Doing so will make you familiarize with the cooker and you will be able to use it perfectly in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions/FAQs

To learn how to cook in a pressure cooker you can first test it with just water. Add some water to the pressure cooker then lock the lid and make sure that the valve is in its position. When you have a basic idea of how to use it, you can try making simple dishes in it such as rice or pulses, and then start with more complicated dishes.

You don’t have to worry much about pressure release because nowadays there are advanced models of pressure cookers available which are safe and easy to use. The majority of pressure cookers come with a steam pressure-releasing valve which releases the steam pressure automatically when the pot is filled with excess pressure. You can just leave the pressure cooker as it is and it will slowly release the steam by itself. Do not attempt to open the lid unless all the pressure is released completely.

People who travel to high altitudes like to use a pressure cooker. You just have to increase the cooking time by 5% with every 1000 ft above sea level. Lightweight pressure cookers are available because they are ideal to use in high-elevation places. Keep in mind that the boiling point of water drops because of low atmospheric pressure as a result of this the required cooking time increases.

Yes, it is healthy to cook in a pressure cooker. As the cooking time of the meal is reduced in a pressure cooker the nutrients in the food are not lost compared to other methods of cooking like boiling and steaming. The most important thing is the recipe itself, so it is up to you to choose a healthy recipe.

Conclusion

A pressure cooker can be a great addition to your kitchen as it makes cooking faster, easier, and more affordable. I’m sure you will know everything you need to know about pressure cooking from this article.

You will be able to use a pressure cooker to prepare your meals perfectly, also you can use a pressure cooker at high elevations, out in the wild, or just at your home.

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Sid Wilson

Being a father, a golf lover, and an engineer by profession are the things that define Sid Wilson. He spends most of his time in his garage building and experimenting with stuff. Unscrewing things and then screwing them up is his favorite hobby. Doing these things in his garage has made him what, he is today.

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