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Cooking Under Pressure

By Leanne Murphy, Beechworth       

I’m a recent convert to the wonders of pressure cooking, and wanted to share the benefits of this efficient way to cook all manner of meals, from steaming vegetables through to cooking hearty stews.

We’ve had our pressure cooker for a couple of years now, and I love it.  When I first broached the subject of buying one with my husband, he reminded me of a certain relative (of his!) who blew a hole in the kitchen ceiling with their old pressure cooker, and so you can imagine, he wasn’t all that convinced it was a good idea.

So I did a bit of research, determined to find a high-quality and safe product, and also one with a good warranty.  The model we chose is made of 18/10 quality stainless steel with a 6mm base suitable for all cooking ranges, and has a locking handle that can’t be released if there’s any pressure inside – the pressure needs to disperse either naturally over time, or through the use of a pressure-release switch.  There are sturdy metal tabs around the rim that interlock when the lid is moved into an engaged position, and it’s very reassuring to hear a loud click when the lid locks.

Generally, food takes about half the cooking time in a pressure cooker, but if you work with stored heat you can turn off the stove after the maximum pressure is reached, and by keeping an eye on the pressure level, just turn the stove back on for about 30 seconds when it starts to drop.  This might mean using only a third of the electricity that might otherwise be used with a standard pot.  Steamed vegetables only need until the water boils and the pressure builds, then I take the pot off the heat and let the pressure release while I get ready to serve the meal.

The other great benefit is that all nutrients stay in the pot, so maximum flavour and nutrition is retained, while the pressure tenderises the food without causing it to fall apart.  Potatoes, rice and pulses are especially good, soup is super-quick, and meat stews are tender and tasty.  A top quality pressure cooker is definitely an excellent addition to the modern kitchen!