The Lies And Truths About Pressure Cookers You Should Know

Pressure Cooker

Saying that we cook with a pressure cooker sounds old-fashioned. In fact, the first attempt at pressure cooking was made by Denis Papin in the seventeenth century and it was in 1919 that the first patent was granted to a primitive pot, which will be called express. “It is a somewhat forgotten appliance, which is respected because less has been said about its virtues than its defects, such as the possibility of it exploding”, says Marc Puig-Pey, head of the kitchen at the Alícia Foundation, a center expert in research and science related to food.

“This does not happen to the blender, and you can also cut your finger if you use it wrong,” he says with the desire to claim a device that, for chef Artur Martínez, “cooks cleanly, quickly and tasty and has a lot of possibilities ”.

We accept the challenge of taking this hermetic pot that cooks at high temperature in a short time from the cupboard, but first, we are going to make clear all the truths and lies that surround it. Is it really a device unfairly treated? Does it explode if the valve clogs? Can I cook everything? Is it true that it saves energy? Will a chickpea stew be tasty?

1. Save Time And Energy. True

When we use the pressure cooker, we cook food in a container where pressures higher than atmospheric are reached and therefore the boiling point of the water increases. That means that we cook at more than 100 degrees Celsius, about 120-130, and therefore the cooking time is shortened.

When we use the pressure cooker, we cook the food in a container where pressures higher than atmospheric are reached.

When we use the pressure cooker, we cook the food in a container where pressures higher than atmospheric are reached.

According to the expert website on this device,, it can be reduced by up to 70%. Cooks more than twice the speed of a normal pot. “Legumes, a stew or a roast is prepared faster than in a conventional utensil, reducing time has no counterparts and does not entail any loss of quality “, explains Marc Puig-Pey, head of kitchen at the Alícia Foundation. “Some chickpeas that can take an hour and a half, are made in 30 minutes,” he adds. A logical consequence of food being on the fire for less time is energy savings. If we cut it in half, we will consume half the electricity or gas.

2. It Does Not Preserve Vitamins In Food Better Than Other Types Of Cooking. False

Pressure Cooker

All types of cooking are good, but each has its own characteristics. “If I want to prepare a grilled steak, I will not use a pressure cooker, but instead some lentils can be great,” says Puig-Pey to illustrate the importance of choosing well the kitchen utensils according to the needs. “There is no better container than another, you just have to know its strengths “, says the chef, who wants to claim the pressure cooker for its efficiency, sustainability and speed.

For Artur Martínez, his cuisine is healthy and tasty because it prevents flavours and aromas from evaporating. “It is the best invention to make, for example, Riojan potatoes (a dish from Spanish cuisine, popular in the counties of Rioja and Álava in the Basque region of Spain) in 10 minutes”, says the chef of the Aürt restaurant (Barcelona), who as a child was already interested in his mother’s pressure cooker, and now uses it in the home normally: “Basically, they have hardly changed. ”

In addition, since the cooking time is short, we can preserve up to 50% of the vitamins and minerals in the food, thereby improving its flavour.

As the cooking time is short, we can preserve up to 50% of the vitamins and minerals in the food, thereby improving its flavour.

According to the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), “the pressure cooker only consumes 13% of the vitamin C of the pepper, while if a saucepan is used it loses 33%”. Although there are exceptions, “carrots, broccoli and spinach are healthier with longer cooking.”

3. If the correct procedure is followed, it is safe. True

You have to know very well how a pressure cooker works before using it, to avoid displeasure, although the procedure is simple and nowadays they are all very safe. It is essential to use water or some liquid (such as broth), and to the right extent, because otherwise, the food would burn. Once filled with food inside (they usually have maximum and minimum marks), it must be closed well and set the appropriate pressure level for the product that we cook. Generally, level 1 is for vegetables, pasta and fish, and level 2 is for tougher foods such as meat and beans.

Once on the fire, we heat it at maximum speed until the pressure valve rises and water vapour begins to come out. The pot will have reached the correct pressure and therefore the correct temperature. “Then we lower the heat and start counting the cooking time we need depending on each preparation,” explains Marc Puig-Pey. It is important not to stray too far and to be aware because the cooking is very fast.

When the time is up, the pot is allowed to cool until the pressure valve drops. When it has lowered, you can open it safely because there is no pressure inside.

It is important not to stray too far and to be aware because the cooking is very fast

4. It May Not Work Well And May Even Explode. True

Pressure Explode

Although the risk of explosion exists, if the pot is used correctly there is no danger. Today they are very safe. “All of them have mechanisms to relieve the excessive pressure that could build-up,” says the OCU. Marc Puig-Pey points out that we must read the instruction manual and follow some basic safety guidelines.

It is very important to keep the valve that releases the steam clean and to check that it is not obstructed before each use. The experts say that the problems with the valve are the origin of the majority of cases of explosions of pressure cookers. Also, one has to ensure that the rubber cover is in perfect condition for the pot to function properly.

It is equally important not to fill the pot more than 2/3 of its capacity so that there is enough space for air and steam. Nor should we use the pot if there are leaks from the joints or it does not close hermetically. And do not put it on the fire until you check that it is properly closed.

In old pots it was possible to open the lid of the pot before depressurizing it “and that is very dangerous, all the steam must always come out before opening to eliminate the pressure that has been generated inside”, says Puig-Pey. Nowadays modern pots cannot be opened if they have pressure inside, therefore they will not explode for this reason.

It is important not to fill the pot more than 2/3 of its capacity so that there is enough space for air and steam

5. Its Maintenance Is Complicated. False

The pressure cooker is easy to maintain, but it has to be done. “It’s like a car, you have to have it ready, always well greased,” says chef Fundació Alícia, who recommends washing the lid, the rubber bands and the valve of the pressure cooker by hand with water and detergent. “I am in favour of washing everything by hand, but if you use a dishwasher, just insert the pot,” he says. If the valve is clogged or damaged, it must be replaced before using the pot again.

“All non-metallic parts have to be checked,” says the chef. We must also verify “that the rubber is in place if there are water leaks through the joints if it does not close hermetically or makes strange noises”, says Artur Martínez: “The pressure cooker has no mysteries, you just have to take good care of it”.

6. There Are Things Like Chickpeas And Flan That Cannot Be Made. False

Pressure Fruits

There are foods that fit better or worse with the pressure cooker, but not everything that is said is true. For example, it is said that it can swell some legumes such as chickpeas, which Marc Puig-Pey denies: “Chickpeas always swell because they absorb water, regardless of the cooking method you use.”

In the pressure cooker, “they are perfect, well done and very tender”, points out the chef from the Alícia Foundation, a centre that has published a reference book on legumes, The kitchen of Legumes (Gastro Planet). “For a product to be perfect when you cook it, there are many elements at stake, not only the type of pot you use, also the water, the type of chickpea…”, he points out. Artur Martínez also cooks legumes (“lentils in 20 minutes”), although Joan Roca prefers to use it for other types of food, “gelatinous pieces and products with collagen such as pig’s feet or veal snout”.

One of the ways to depressurize the pot is to do it using the natural method, waiting between 10 and more than 30 minutes until the pressure indicator has completely decreased

Flan is a curious case because if it is boiled, it is cut. As the pressure cooker cooks without boiling, it is an ideal utensil to prepare it. It is introduced on a steamer with water underneath and it is covered. “The pot acts as a steam oven, and we can also make jams and terrines, ” says Puig-Pey.

7. It Is Very Important To Depressurize. True

When the food is already cooked and the pot is removed from the heat, the contents continue to cook until the temperature and internal pressure drop. It is very important to depressurize the container. It can be done in three ways. By the natural method (with tomato broths or sauces, for example), we must wait between 10 and more than 30 minutes until the pressure indicator has completely decreased.

The cold water method consists of putting the pot under the tap to cool down “to reduce the steam inside, our mothers used it a lot”, explains Marc Puig-Pey, who does not recommend this solution too much. It is preferable to use the current automatic method: modern pots have a depressurization setting, with an icon that usually represents a vapour cloud. The pressure is released quickly.

8. I Can’t Precook And Post-cook Traditionally Inside. False

The pressure cooker gives a lot of play. In addition to its usual cooking function, Marc Puig-Pey explains that it can be used to make more complex dishes. In the case of precooked, “we can make a roast beef shank browning it a little bit, roasting some vegetables, adding wine and letting it evaporate like in a traditional pot, without covering it. When it’s done, I put water on it, cover it and cook it with the express function to soften it ”.

The pressure cooker gives a lot of play and can be used to make complex dishes

It is also possible to post-cook after having gone through the pressure cooker: “I can make a broth in the pressure cooker for half an hour with pieces of cabbage, some other vegetables and two chicken carcasses (it is soft and its flavour has been extracted ) and at the end of cooking, we will open the lid, we will put black and white sausage and pilota (meatballs), and we will let it boil in the traditional way so that it evaporates a little. It is perfect, “says the chef at the Alícia Foundation.

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