What is a pressure cooker and what you can cook in it

Not everyone had time to get used to multicooker instead of ordinary pots, when multicooker-pressure cookers appeared. What is a pressure cooker, how fast does it cook and how does it differ from all other appliances? Do I need to buy a multicooker-pressure cooker or is it an extra useless device? We will understand in detail in this article.

What is a pressure cooker and how does it work
Pressure cookers came to home kitchens from industry. In fact, this is a reduced and simplified modification of autoclaves that are used in medicine, chemistry, metallurgy and other industries. The autoclave is a sealed apparatus with high pressure heating. The pressure cooker is the same, only in a household format and in the form of a saucepan. The principle of cooking is as follows: the steam generated by boiling water does not come out, but accumulates inside a hermetically sealed container. Due to this, the pressure increases, the water heats up to a temperature above 100 C o , without evaporating, and the food is cooked much faster.

Pressure cookers first became popular in the 1920s in the United States. And even in our Soviet kitchens one could find pressure cookers. True, they looked like ordinary large steel pans with a sealed lid. The lid was pressed against the body due to spring bars, a lock and a heat-resistant rubberized rim. The cover also had a pressure relief valve. An emergency valve was added to the bleed valve for self-relieving pressure if it exceeded the permissible values. Such a safety measure is necessary so that the pressure cooker does not explode along with the kitchen.

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Modern pressure cookers can be found in two versions. The first ones are those very classic pots that have not changed their design in fifty years, but have added in style and quality.

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A more modern type is electric pressure cookers. In them, the pressure cooker is combined with a heater and regulating automatics – pressure sensors, controlled valves, cooking programs and timers. Electric pressure cookers are much easier to operate and maintain, they don’t need a stove to work and are safer. They heat themselves, cook themselves and, more often than not, turn off themselves.

In electric pressure cookers, the pressure is usually lower than in classic ones. While pressure cookers can withstand pressures of up to 1 atm, multicooker pressure cookers hold at an average of 0.5 atm. This will not interfere with cooking, but it will no longer work to sterilize products for preservation.

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How a pressure cooker differs from a multicooker and a double boiler
A pressure cooker is not a type of multicooker. These are generally two different principles of work, which have little to do with each other. The multicooker literally imitates the work of a regular pan and does not close hermetically. In the multicooker mode, you can open the lid at any time and look inside, add some ingredients, stir the dish. In a multicooker, you can fry, break the general cooking process into stages, cook at low temperatures and bake the simplest biscuits and pies.

In a pressure cooker, you put in all the food in advance, close the lid and do not go to the appliance until the set cooking time has elapsed. The lid does not open until the end of cooking, otherwise the program will fail. The pressure cooker only cooks and stews, in this mode you will not be able to fry anything, bake a cake or load yogurt.

But the most important feature that pressure cookers love is the speed of cooking. For example, she will cook rice, buckwheat, potatoes in 10 minutes. Compared to a slow cooker or cooking on the stove, food will be ready 2-3 times faster due to the high temperatures. Moreover, it will be more useful, because the heat treatment is short-lived. There are also combined devices – multicooker-pressure cooker. With these appliances you can cook with or without high pressure.

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If we compare pressure cookers with steamers, then the differences are obvious here. The steamer cooks food exclusively by steaming. Structurally, these are also categorically different devices. A classic steamer is a tray with water for evaporation, several tiers for storing products, an elementary principle of operation and the same intuitive operation. The pressure cooker is useful for a wide variety of recipes, up to jellied meat. Some models can cook in the steamer mode.

Why do you need a pressure cooker and what to cook in it
As the name suggests, the pressure cooker cooks quickly. And indeed it is. But when we say that porridge in a pressure cooker takes ten minutes to cook, this is not from the moment you press the button until you turn it off. Pressure cooker spends time in heating, steam injection and pressure rise in temperature above 100 ° C on and then to direct cooking. As a result, on “quick” recipes, the difference between a pressure cooker and a multicooker will not be so noticeable. But if you like to cook dishes that require a lot of time, then the pressure cooker will come in handy even more.

For example, it does not require pre-soaking legumes such as beans or peas at all. They will be ready right out of the package literally in 20 minutes, and not in a few hours if they are cooked in the classical way. Potatoes are cooked three times faster. Large cuts of meat can be stewed in 15-30 minutes instead of an hour and a half. It is especially convenient when it comes to tough and stringy meat that needs to be stewed for a long, long time until softened. The same applies to rich soups, jellied meat and other “long” dishes.

Therefore, if you are hoping to quickly prepare porridge for breakfast with the purchase of a pressure cooker, most likely you will not be able to gain time. While the pressure cooker heats up and accelerates, it will take the same amount of time as when cooking in a regular saucepan or multicooker. But if you cook for a large family and often choose large-scale, lengthy recipes, a pressure cooker will help you not to sit near the stove all day.

Pros and cons of pressure cookers
It seems that a pressure cooker, especially when combined with a multicooker, is almost the perfect appliance. Indeed, here are its advantages:

Any food is cooked 2-3 times faster than in the multicooker mode or on the stove.
Due to the rapid heat treatment, the ingredients retain much more benefits and vitamins.
As a rule, less salt and spices are needed because they do not volatilize during the cooking process.
The pressure cooker can make even the most inexpensive and tough meat tender and tender.
But, of course, besides the indisputable advantages, there are some limitations:

The pressure cooker must not be opened while cooking. You will not be able to add the ingredients, taste for salt and stir the dishes. We’ll have to be more careful right away.
Pressure cookers are often quite bulky and bulky. If an ordinary multicooker can be compact – 1.5-2 liters, then the volume of most pressure cookers is at least 5 liters. At the same time, the useful volume is less in comparison with similar bowls of conventional multicooker. The pressure cooker needs extra space to pump out steam.
The pressure cooker cannot cook at low temperatures.
Even with sensors and pressure relief valves, a pressure cooker is still more dangerous than a conventional multicooker.