Pressure cookers can open up a new dimension to your cooking if all you have been exposed to is frying, boiling, baking, broiling, and barbecuing. You will need to be careful with the pressure cooker, because they can be dangerous if not used responsibly. Respect your pressure cooker and it will perform beautifully for you.
When I cook, I prefer the old fashioned weighted valve, because I can be preparing other parts of the meal. As I listen for when the rocking stops, I know the cooking has finished and I can attend to it.
When I go hiking in the mountains I prefer taking a small pressure cooker with me to compensate for the difference in atmospheric pressure. If you cooked normally at high elevations, the food would remain uncooked and you could suffer from food poisoning.
If you feel pressure cooked food is too bland, especially meat, onions, and garlic, you could saute them beforehand. They will retain much of their flavor through the pressure cooking process.
Although the pressure cooker was invented in 1679, it was manufactured for the public until 1864 in Germany. Even today, 150 years later, pressure cookers are quite common.
Pressure cookers have evolved a little over time. The four kinds of pressure regulators include the weighted valve, the modified weighted valve, the spring valve, and the electric spring valve.
The first two differ by a subtle difference that requires a slightly different amount of attention to cooking. The weighted valve sits atop the cooker and measures the pressure that is escaping through a top vent. It makes a rocking motion and a distinct sound that indicates your cooking is coming along well. When it stops you know you need to pay attention to it.
The modified weighted valve is permanently attached atop the cooker and does not make the rocking motion or sounds. You need to pay closer attention to the modified weighted valve and adjust it to release the steam slowly. You cannot hear it as distinctly as the weighted valve, so it requires more dedication to cooking.
The spring valve does not release steam unless the heat source is still applied after the cooker reaches optimal pressure. Typically, this kind of cooker indicates two pressures, 10 psi and 15 psi.
The electric spring valve pressure cooker is like its non-electric cousin, but it includes a timer and a manner for maintaining just enough heat to keep the food warm. It should be operated with caution.
Any recipe you are following will mention whether you should use a quick, cold release or a natural release. There are various phrases used to indicate the two, so beware.
Quick, cold release requires you run cold water over the cooker to quickly reduce the heat, and the pressure as well. The chemical equation PV=nRT tells us that Pressure (P) and Temperature (T) are proportional. As one is increased, the other increases and as one is reduced, the other reduces proportionately. Some cookers may possess a quick release valve, but you will also need to run cold water on the cooker even with this mechanism.
The natural release method simply requires you remove the cooker from the heat. It is allowed to gradually cool. Make sure you are following the recipe according to which type you employ for your meal.
Any pressure cooker should include a cover interlock. This will prevent the cooker from building pressure until the lid is secure. It also keeps the cooker from being opened prematurely. As long as the internal pressure is greater than the external atmospheric pressure, the cook cannot be opened. The hot liquid would explode all over the user if the cooker could be opened at that point.
Pressure cookers come in two materials: aluminum and stainless steel. It is important to understand the differences in the performance and durability of these two materials prior to deciding which to purchase.
Many people will purchase an aluminum pressure cooker because it is inexpensive. Aluminum cookers distribute heat more uniformly, but they tend to pit more easily. While they perform better than stainless steel cookers, they are not nearly as durable.
In contrast with aluminum pressure cookers, stainless steel cookers are more durable, but contain hotspots. To get around this deficiency, they are often equipped with an aluminum plate attached to the outside bottom. This distributes the heat uniformly.