Pressure Cooking Basics

If you don’t own a pressure cooker, once you learn how easy it is to use and how awesome your food turns out, you will want to get one and start using it right away! Cooking your foods in a pressure cooker is faster than traditional baking or cooking and your meals come out oh so delicious.

How a Pressure Cooker Works

Pressure cooking is a method of cooking where steam is sealed in a special airtight pot. The vapor from the liquid (such as stock, broth, water, wine or brandy) rises and is captured in the pressure cooker when it is sealed. This then raises the pressure in the pressure cooker as well as the temperature of the liquid to its maximum. The increased temperature and pressure significantly speeds up the cooking time by infusing hot steam into the food. Pressure cooking can speed up cooking times over 1/3 or more and is often 10 times faster than traditional cooking. Compared to microwave cooking, foods taste considerably better and compared to a slow cooker, foods cook in a significantly shorter amount of time.

Higher Pressure = Shorter Cooking Time

Pressure cookers come in a variety of pressures, so be sure to use the right amount of cooking time for the amount of pressure for your cooker. The highest pressure is 15psi, so if your cooker’s pressure is lower than that, you may have to increase the cooking time by 12 or 15 percent, depending on the recipe. Most recipes for pressure cookers indicate the amount of cooking time at 15 psi.

When the pressure selector dial on a modern pressure cooker is set to high (15psi) it is safely under a pressure of 15 pounds per square inch. 15 pounds of pressure is less than half of the pressure in a normal car tire, so it’s not very much, but it’s enough to greatly reduce the cooking time of food. The temperature inside the pressure cooker is increased above what is possible in a normal stovetop cooking pot.

The steam pressure inside the pressure cooker cooks food much more rapidly than just boiling or baking. And while microwaves cook fast, often the food is dried out, rubbery or soggy. Using a pressure cooker, while the cooking time is greatly reduced, the quality of the food is preserved. Meats are juicy and tender, vegetables melt in your mouth and desserts come out more delicious than ever. Pressure cooked foods also retain their vitamins and nutrients unlike boiled or baked foods.

So, as you can see, using a pressure cooker is not only safe, but it saves you time and makes your foods taste much better!

Pressure Cooking Saves Time and Energy

Using a pressure cooker not only is a faster and better way to cook the foods you love, it also saves energy. Pressure cooking saves energy and water because the amount of heat or electricity your stove uses is greatly reduced compared to baking or stove top cooking. In addition, pressure cooking is much safer and healthier than microwaving.

Below are some of your favorite foods and the cooking time needed for using a pressure cooker. You can see how significantly reduced the cooking times are as opposed to stove top cooking or baking. (All cooking times are calculated using 15psi)

  • Asparagus – 1 to 2 minutes
  • Green or Yellow Beans – 2 to 3 minutes
  • Broccoli Flowerets – 1 minute
  • Broccoli Stalks, large – 5 to 6 minutes
  • Broccoli Stalks, small- 3 to 4 minutes
  • Cabbage – 3 to 4 minutes
  • Carrots, small – 1 minute
  • Carrots, large – 4 minutes
  • Corn - 1 minute
  • Corn on the cob – 3 minutes
  • Potatoes, whole, large – 5 to 7 minutes (WOW! Think of the time it takes to bake or even boil a potato.)
  • Zucchini - 2 minutes
  • Pinto Beans, soaked, using natural release - 1 to 3 minutes
  • Beef pot roast, 1-1/2 lb to 2 lbs.-35 to 40 minutes
  • Chicken breast, frozen, boneless, skinless – 7 to 10 minutes
  • Chicken, whole 3 to 4 lb. – 18 to 25 minutes

As you can see, using a pressure cooker greatly reduces the cooking time! Not only that, your foods taste much better because the juices are retained and none of the vitamins and minerals are boiled or baked away and you can forget losing them in the microwave too.

You can find a plethora of pressure cooking cookbooks and recipes online, so be sure to use the cooking times given in the recipe for your particular food or meal.