Feeling the pressure...

One of the things that I've been thinking of doing lately is picking up a pressure cooker to add to my collection of kitchen appliances. Along the way I've discovered that there appears to be two different types of pressure cookers. Broadly speaking there's the basic, cheap models predominant to India and used for everyday cooking, and there are much more complicated (but more idiot-proof), more expensive, and typically-only-available-in-large-sizes models coming primarily from European manufacturers. At the moment I'm debating which type to get.

Here's a line of Indian-style pressure cookers, which comes in sizes as small as 2 litres. That's actually their "deluxe" line, rather than the basic aluminium version as I'd need something induction safe. (My understanding is that to avoid risk of explosion you shouldn't fill these more than halfway, so perhaps 3.5-4 litres would be a good size for a bachelor). Then there are the European-style ones like this, typically available in a minimum of a 6 litre size. (There are a few around that are 4 litres, but those seem a bit harder to find available to Canada).

Why a pressure cooker? (a) Cooking times for these are quite impressive, might might make legumes a bit easier to cook on a more regular basis, (b) they seem to better preserve nutrients, and (c) I don't have one yet :b


I'm curious how they determine cooking times. Specifically the lower vegetable times. When do you put the food in? When you put it on the stove? Then how does it take advantage of the pressure? When the pressure cooker is at the desired pressure? How do you put the food in without loosing most (or all) of the pressure.

Furthermore, you would have to add the time it takes to bring the pressure cooker up the the correct pressure to accurately measure your effective cooking time - even if the actual cooking time is less.

Jen and I bought a pressure cooker last year for canning purposes. We ended up returning it because it was more hassle than it was worth, and the cooking time was not THAT much better when all was said and done compared to a regular canner.

There's a lot I'd have to figure out via experimentation I think or through reading some more detailed instructions. You'd have to add things to the pressure cooker before it reached pressure of course, but I'm not sure if you should bring the water to a boil before adding veggies to steamer basket and putting on the lid (I'd guess it probably doesn't make much of a difference for steamed stuff).

I'm most interested in the beans in the beans / lentils / split peas portion of that... those can take multiple hours otherwise to cook (ergo I've mostly avoided them when not slow-cooked. There a change should be a lot more noticable... probably not so much for a lot of veggies and the like.

I've never gotten around to trying to can anything...