Pressure Cooker Buying Guide
A pressure cooker is a life saviour at times when you do not have the time to cook a conventional stovetop dish. They take a fraction of the actual time required to cook but to do this they use higher pressures to produce a higher temperature. At the highest point, a pressure cooker can maintain 15 pounds of pressure or 121 degree Centigrade. Now, such high pressures can be dangerous if the pressure cooker is not built ruggedly or designed to handle it. Not to worry, these tips will ensure that you purchase a reliable and sturdy pressure cooker.
Three-Ply Bottom Design With Stainless Steel
Only prefer pressure cookers that are constructed out of high quality tensile stainless steel. There are many different compositions of stainless steel. Search for a stamp of 18/10 stainless steel as it indicates a healthy ratio of chromium and nickel in the steel that provides it with many advantages. For starters, the steel resists corrosion and staining because of the presence of Chromium. It also derives additional strength from Chromium and Nickel provides the shine that also helps in forming a protective layer for the steel.
Pressure Indicator & Quick Release Valve
Any pressure cooker that can reach 15psi of pressure is considered to be a standard pressure cooker that can make almost any kind of recipe. However, when we purchase a pressure cooker, we take this fact for granted and do not even bother checking out whether it really can reach 15psi or if it falls short by a couple of psi. Having some kind of indication to let you know that the desired pressure has been reached is a good benefit too. Also, find a pressure cooker that provides a quick release valve built into the regulator. This helps in maintaining the heat inside while venting the pressure to a certain point wherein it becomes safe to open the lid. This is great for recipes that require additional ingredients midway through the cooking.
Today’s pressure cookers are much safer than those of the past. When the pressure reaches a high point, it gets vented out from a valve with a hissing sound to indicate its release. In fact, when the pressure does not drop and continues to increase even after venting, a safety gasket pops out thus eliminating the seal and venting the entire pressure. These are a few safety features that you should ensure your pressure cooker has before purchasing.
The Size Of The Cooker
The size of the cooker does matter in the long run. A 4 quart cooker will cook less quantity of food than a 6 quart or 8 quart but it also comes much cheaper than the others. You have to decide the quantity of food you prepare, your budget and storage space before actually purchasing a pressure cooker. However, a 6 quart cooker is like the basic size for any kitchen and a 8 quart becomes a large unit that is useful to have around for special occasions. Regardless of what size you ultimately consider purchasing remember that only two-thirds of the cooker can be used for cooking since the rest is used by the water to develop steam and pressure.
Warranty & Accessories
Almost all good quality pressure cookers stay for decades but it is the components that make a huge difference in future. Getting gaskets, replacement parts after fifteen years is going to be hard. Only the most reputed companies tend to stand behind their creations. Even if you have a long warranty, it is not going to cover replacement components such as gaskets. So choose a brand based on what is available in the market.
What is the difference between Aluminum and Stainless steel pressure cookers?
Aluminum pressure cookers: these pressure cookers are lightweight, low cost. Aluminum is great at conductor of heat. Drawback for this type of pressure cookers is the intrinsic weakness of Aluminum, due to this reason these pressure cooker can’t work at extreme high pressure like Stainless steel cookers.
Stainless steel pressure cookers: This type of pressure cooker is slightly heavier, and more expensive than aluminum pressure cookers. With extremely durable nature of stainless steel, you can use these pressure cookers for a long time. However, by itself, heat conduction of heat stainless steel is not as good as Aluminum.
What size pressure cooker is right for your need?
Most pressure cookers are sold by the size of their total liquid capacity, but you have to notice that the real usable capacity is only one half or two thirds of its size, depending upon the food being cooked. Most popular sizes for pressure cooker are 4-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart liquid capacites.
4-quart: this size is good size for singles or couples, or for making one course for a family.
6-quart: the most popular pressure cooker size. This size is goof for many families with two or more persons.
8-quart: this size is the best choice for larger families.
NOTE: There are larger size for pressure cooker/canners (16- , 18- ,… and 23-quart models, for example) are also available and are mostly used for pressure canning vegetables, meats, and low-acid foods in pint and quart jars. For pressure cooking, these big sizes are really good if you have to cook for a large group.
Non-stick pressure cookers are not all that great. Regardless of what material is used for the non-stick coating, it cannot stay forever. Moreover, non-stick coating can degrade over time and mix into your food. Being made from chemicals, it is definitely not safe to savour even in the tiniest of quantities. Besides the high pressures developed in a pressure cooker tend to wear out non-stick coating faster than on a skillet or open pot.