A couple of years ago, I discovered the magic of pressure cooking. I had heard about the concept before but never really considered its cooking method for my kitchen. I was at that point in time more of a Crock-Pot slow cooker fan.
My first electric pressure cooker was really an impulse purchase. I was at the electronics store, the sales assistant was doing a demo on how to use the electric pressure cooker, I was impressed, the price promotion was good and the rest as we say it was history!
Anyway, the pressure cooker I purchased stayed in its box for a good three to four months before I actually opened it up and tried to cook in it. My first recipe turned out disastrous because I didn’t understand enough about how pressure cookers work.
To be honest, my pressure cooking experience as a newbie was pretty scary. I had all these random thoughts in my mind like; “Will the pressure cooker blow up while cooking? What if I don’t release the pressure right and it blows up in my face? OMG the sound of the pressure releasing from the cooker is so scary?”… Yadda, yadda, yadda…
I realized then that I didn’t know much about pressure cooking. Millions of people around the world have been using pressure cookers safely without any drama and created delicious recipes in the process, so why can’t I? The experience led me to do some research on pressure cooking and also compiling 1001 recipes to try on Pinterest (which honestly I haven’t had the chance to really experiment with yet).
Anyway, the point of this post is to share with you what I’ve learned through my research on pressure cooking so far. I hope the information in the post while brief will give some explanation about pressure cooking methods to a newbie or anyone considering to buy a pressure cooker.
So let’s start.
How does a pressure cooker work exactly?
To simplify, pressure cooking is a method of cooking food really fast in a sealed pot using steamed pressure to cook the food. The steam in the pressure cooker builds up high pressure in the pot which helps to cook food faster. The best and simplest explanation that I’ve found so far on how pressure cookers work is from Modernist Cuisine’s website which you can read in detail here.
Traditional vs Modern Pressure Cookers
The concept of pressure cooking is not new. I remember growing up that my mother had a stove top pressure cooker she kept in the kitchen but I don’t remember her ever using it though. Anyway, pressure cooking methods have gone through many advancements leading to the creation of the modern electric pressure cooker that is used by so many today.
I don’t doubt that there may still be some brave soul out there who are still pressure cooking via the traditional method of using a stovetop pressure cooker. If you’re one of them, I salute you for your bravery!
Stovetop pressure cookers require manual handling, something which I think I may not have the patience for. Stovetop pressure cookers also require you to monitor and release the pressure within the pot manually… err… thanks but no thanks. One great thing about the stovetop pressure cooker is that the pot can be used as a stockpot or a saucepan as well.
To be honest, I’ve never owned a stove top pressure cooker, have never tried pressure cooking over the stovetop nor do I want to. I currently own a very modern electric pressure cooker by Philips. Actually, I own all three Philips electric pressure cooker models…
An electric pressure cooker is very, very different from a stove top pressure cooker. One, its definitely bulkier and requires a lot of space for storage, especially if you have three different models like me.
The best feature of an electric pressure cooker is that it has a pre-set digital timer that allows you to set the cooking time suitable for the dish being prepared. Unlike cooking the traditional method over the stove top, the electric pressure cooker requires very minimal monitoring as everything is pre-set. It’s also much safer to use than a traditional pressure cooker because electric pressure cookers have many built-in safeguards like temperature-sensitive thermostats to control the pressure within the machine.
An electric pressure cooker is really safe to use. The only time it may sound scary is if you use the quick release function and hear the loud hissing sound it makes while releasing pressure. This used to scare me BIG TIME but I’ve since learned to let the pressure release naturally and you don’t hear the scary hissing sound when you use this function. But if you need to use the quick release function, the loud hissing sound is totally normal so don’t freak out.
Quick Tips for Pressure Cooker Newbies
Read the instructions
If there is one thing I hate, its reading boring instruction leaflets. This tip may be super obvious but I know a lot of people myself included, who don’t really read instructions thoroughly. My first cooking experience with my pressure cooker turned out disastrous because I didn’t take the time to understand how the machine works. So, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.
Join a pressure cooking FB group or follow a pressure cooking blog
There are really so many types of pressure cookers in the market; I.e. Instantpot, Culinart, Noxxa … just go onto Amazon or Lazada and you can see so many brands in the market. While the pressure cooking basics are the same, different brands have different steps to creating a meal. Joining a group or following/reading a blog written specifically to the brand that you use can help you gain a bit more understanding on how to best use your pressure cooker, get pressure cooking hack tips and also ideas to creating simple but delicious meals.
As you know, I use a Philips electric pressure cooker. When I first started, I got my recipes from Philips pressure cooker ambassador, Chef Marina Mustafa’s blog. I also joined a Philips pressure cooker Facebook group administered by Sidney Kan a food enthusiast. He has created two groups; one called Cooking with Philips Pressure Cooker for the older models under the Philips brand and the second group was created specifically for the Philips Pressure Cooker All-in-One model which you can join here.
The people in these group love sharing their tips and simple hacks to prepping meals and they are super helpful when you ask a question. I have really learned so much from other pressure cooking enthusiast in these groups.
The thing about trying out a new method of cooking is that you get to try new ways of prepping meals and new recipes. I can tell you I’ve had my fair share of disastrous meals and still do but don’t let the experience turn you off to the magic of pressure cooking. There’s always McDonald’s for days like this.
The point is to have fun. Once you get the hang of your pressure cooker, you won’t want to switch on your stove top ever. Trust me on this!
I hope this post has been helpful.