Pressure cookers are making a comeback



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Move over slow cooker – there’s a new time-saving device in town; one your Grandmother likely had in her kitchen. For those who have limited time to get dinner on the table and are not organized enough to load up the slow cooker in the morning, a pressure cooker cuts the cooking time of everything from beef stew to risotto by two-thirds or more.

A slow cooker is true to its name, taking six to eight hours to get dinner ready.
A pressure cooker, though, is fast and furious.

It cooks food intensely using moisture and steam. The result is thick, rich stews, soups, ribs and braises with a thick, lacquered exterior you’d get in the oven. So the next time you’re under pressure to get dinner on the table, pull out your pressure cooker. Once you get to know it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. We enlisted the help of Eva, Sophia and Laila to test our pressure cooker creations. Here are their favourites.

How it works

A stovetop pressure cooker looks just like a regular pot, but it has a clunky lid with steam release valves on top. You can start the dish on the stovetop, browning meat and veggies for a flavour boost. After adding liquid and your remaining ingredients, position and lock the lid. As the pot comes to a simmer, the pressure builds inside, reaching about 15 psi (pounds per square inch), which raises the boiling point of the cooking liquid from 212°F to about 250°F. Once it’s up to pressure – you can usually tell by the dangly piece on top steaming and spinning – your dish will be cooked in two-thirds to three-quarters of the time. When it comes off the heat, pressure is slowly released. You can streamline the cooling-down process by running the pot under cool water.

Choosing a pressure cooker

There are two main varieties of pressure cooker on the market – stovetop and electric. Stovetop pressure cookers are more common and affordable, ranging from about $30–$150, depending on brand and size. They work just like a regular pot on the stovetop; once lidded and properly sealed, pressure builds over the heat of the stove. At the end of the cooking time, it’s removed from the heat and the pressure subsides, and it’s ready to open.

Julie’s picks

     
Fresco Pressure Cooker FPC550
(5.5L), $49.99, available at Canadian
Tire and London Drug stores. 
Lagostina Pronto Pressure
Cooker (6L), $159.99, available at
Canadian Tire stores. 
Breville the Fast Slow Cooker
(6 qt), $199.99, available at
The Bay, Sears, Future Shop. 

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, February/March 2013.

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