When you are under a lot of pressure...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

From Macrobiotic Diet: Balancing Your Eating in Harmony with the Changing Environment and Personal Needs by Michio and Aveline Kushi (edited by Alex Jack):

"In China, Mesoamerica, and other parts of the ancient world, whole grains were traditionally cooked under pressure in heavy pots or caldrons. Stones set on top thick lids often provided additional weight. When the boiling water started to produce high pressure from steam within the heavily covered pots, the fire was slowed down. This way of cooking preserved the energy and nutrients in the grain and made for easier digestion. In modern times, grains have been increasingly refined of their harder, outer layers, requiring lesser time for boiling, steaming, and other cooking. Moreover, modern forms of cooking often allow food substances to stream out of the pot, further reducing the final quality of the grain.

Pressure-cooking is the most thorough and efficient modern way to prepare whole cereal grains, especially brown rice. The natural sweetness of the grain is fully brought out under this method, and rice prepared in this way is uniformly well-cooked, easily digested and assimilated by the body, and calm and peaceful to the mind. The entire process of pressure-cooking brown rice can be accomplished within about an hour, depending upon the volume of grain cooked.

Soaking the rice for several hours prior to cooking, or overnight if time permits, further softens the hard outer layers of the grain, making each grain softer and slightly reducing the actual time needed for cooking. It is also traditional to add a pinch of sea salt to the pot for each cup of uncooked rice at the beginning of cooking. This further strengthens the quality of the rice, contributing to a slightly alkalizing effect in the blood.

Besides rice, barley, whole oats, whole wheat berries, rye, millet, and whole dried corn may also be pressure-cooked using the same method, though cooking time will differ depending on the amount and type of grain. Whole grains may also be combined with one another. In the case of brown rice, 10 to 30 percent of any of the other grains may be added for a tasty and nutritious main dish several times a week. Rice and other whole grains may also be pressure-cooked with a similar proportion of other foods including beans, chestnuts, lotus seeds, other seeds and nuts, acorn, butternut, or similar kinds of winter squash, and assorted vegetables finely chopped. When mixing rice or other grain with other ingredients, slightly more sea salt is commonly added to balance the nutrients in the added food. In addition to unrefined sea salt, grains may be seasoned from time to time with a touch of tamari soy sauce, miso, or other natural seasoning.

A small square of kombu, a mineral-rich sea vegetable, is often traditionally added to the bottom of a pot of rice to provide more energy, enhance taste and flavor, and improve digestion.
When a pressure cooker is not available, rice and other whole grains may be boiled. A pot with a heavy lid should be used in order to retain as much energy and nutrients as possible. Millet and buckwheat cook up much faster than the other grains and do not need to be pressure-cooked. However, to strengthen their quality, they are traditionally dry-roasted for a few minutes in an unoiled skillet prior to boiling.
Other grains may be, dry-roasted to improve their digestibility. Further cooking methods that may be used from time to time to prepare grains and grain products include steaming, baking. and frying."

From Shopper's Guide to Natural Foods: A Consumer's Guide to Buying and Preparing Foods for Good Health from The Editors of the East West Journal:Sweet brown rice with chestnuts. Vegetable stew and tender beans. Creamy squash pudding. These delectable wholesome dishes and an infinite variety of others are easily prepared in that invaluable and versatile pot, the pressure cooker.
If you have yet to experience for yourself the pleasures of pressure cooking-if you have thought you might like to try, but hesitated over concerns of safety and practicality- then you will be delighted to learn that today's pressure cookers are safe, economical, durable, and easy to use and care for.
What makes pressure cooking more economical than other methods of cooking'?. A pressure cooker cooks food more quickly, using less water and fuel, through the simple application of natural law: water under pressure can absorb more heat without boiling away. In an ordinary sauce- pan, the interior does not exceed 212 °F, the boiling point of water, at which time heat energy will become steam as quickly as it is created, until all the water has boiled away.
On the other hand, when water boils in a sealed pressure cooker regulated at fifteen pounds per square inch of pressure, the interior temperature can reach 250 °F. This superhot water is transformed into superheated, penetrating steam that circulates through the pot and quickly and thoroughly cooks the food. A constant pressure is regulated by a metal weight or other type of regulator that will let off steam and will reduce pressure should it become too high.

A cook concerned with nutrition will find the pressure cooker economical in this respect, too. The absence of air prevents oxidation of vitamins and, because so little water is needed, soluble nutrients are not so easily dissolved. Cooking with pressure also enhances the flavors of foods rather than losing them in vapor.

Today's pressure cookers, unlike their predecessors, are lightweight, extremely dependable, easy to use, and safe. Presto, Mirro, and the Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry, which makes large-size cooker: appropriate for canning, presently have the only American-made cookers on the market. The Presto model, last redesigned in 1978, is also sold under the Sears label. European pressure cookers are commonly sold through specialty stores and mail-order services. The Aeternum, SEB, and Lagostina, the best- known of the imports, are all made of mirror-finish, surgi-cal-quality stainless steel. The Sicomatic-s, a decent import, is available in enamel led carbon steel as well as stainless steel.

The European models vary a great deal. They range in size from three liters (about four quarts) to twelve liters (about fourteen quarts), and can cost anywhere from forty- live dollars to over one hundred and fifty dollars. Most of the models are available in two or more sizes. The design of the covers, pressure gauges, and safety valves also differs from one model to another.


From Fagor History of Pressure Cookers excerpt from The Ultimate Pressure Cooker Cookbook, by Tom Lacalamita, Simon & Schuster
"The seventeenth-century French inventor Denis Papin was one of those interested in developing a new method to cook food quickly at relatively low cost. In 1680, Papin introduced a revolutionary new cooking device, the marmite de Papin, or the Papin Digester. From what little we know, the Papin Digester was made from cast metal, perhaps iron, with a lid that locked in place with a screw like clamping mechanism. As the food heated in its cooking liquid, the trapped steam raised the cooking temperature to at least 15 percent higher than the boiling point of water. This very hot steam cooked the food quicker than the ordinary methods available at that time. The only problem with this new technology was the lack of understanding about regulating the steam pressure and the inability to accurately regulate the cooking temperature, leading, unfortunately, to many an exploding digester. Another major drawback was the lack of technology to produce machine-stamped pots (made from a single piece of metal). The cast or molded pots that were used would eventually crack along their seams under high levels of pressure, spewing the contents sky-high. Even though Papin never saw his concept and invention reach its full potential, he at least provided the basic notion of cooking under high pressure.

After serious outbreaks of food poisoning in the early 1900s, including the deaths of thirty five people between 1919 and 1920 from botulism caused by improperly jarred olives, the United States Department of Agriculture officially announced that the only way to safely process low-acid foods was to use pressure canners. All commercial canneries were required to be equipped with pressure-canning equipment. But fifty-gallon capacity pressure canners were not useful for those who wanted to preserve food at home. In 1915, smaller, ten-gallon aluminum pressure canners for home use first became available to meet the growing demand from American consumers who wanted a safer way to preserve food.

Early pressure canners were quite cumbersome. Even though they were made from molded aluminum, a material we associate with lightweight strength, they were large and heavy. Early models also required the user to screw and unscrew six to eight wing nuts on the lid to close and open the unit. Manufacturers were inspired by the popularity of this device to try to develop a unit that was easier to use. In 1938, Alfred Vischer, after much trial and error, introduced his Flex-Seal Speed Cooker, the first saucepan-sized pressure cooker. Competition soon followed, with other manufacturers also introducing saucepan-sized pressure cookers. Success would have to wait a few years longer, however, since America, just on the verge of entering World War II, was busy converting all civilian manufacturing facilities to war production. While this temporarily ended the manufacture of pressure cookers for consumer use, production of commercial pressure canners continued during this period in order to meet the growing need to feed Gls overseas.

By the late 1940s, with peace in Europe and the Pacific, the consumer pressure-cooker market took off. Almost overnight there were eleven different manufacturers offering eighty-five different pressure saucepans (as they were called). Prices dropped and quality suffered as unscrupulous manufacturers entered the market to capitalize on the growing demand. While consumers were well aware of the benefits of using a pressure cooker for preparing meals-cooking in just one-third of the time, preserving vitamin and mineral content of food, and saving both food flavor and color- they also grew more skeptical with the increasing number of horror stories about exploding and rupturing units. Little by little, companies began to drop out of the category, until finally only those truly dedicated to the development of safe, foolproof units remained.

While pressure cookers revolutionized how the average homemaker was able to cook in the years following World War II, other advances in food preparation would soon begin to overshadow their convenience. With the advent of products like frozen entrees and prepared foods in the postwar years, America's eating habits began to change dramatically. Consumers were seeking an even higher level of convenience than that afforded by the pressure cooker, and it began to fall out of favor. It would not be until the late 1960s and early 1970s, which saw an increased awareness of healthy eating, that pressure cookers would begin to once again gain in popularity.

As we entered the 1990s, many baby boomers that had never used a pressure cooker began to discover the benefits of pressure-cooker cooking, and the number continues to grow today."

What to Look For


lf you are thinking of purchasing a pressure cooker, you will probably want to consider the following points: the material of which the pot is constructed, its shape and size, its cover, safety features, durability, availability of spare parts, and cost.

Material

Most pressure cookers are constructed of stainless steel or aluminum. The stainless steel surface is easy to clean and will not pit. Some pressure cookers are made with an extra layer of metal on the bottom to help diffuse heat and prevent scorching. (A separate heat diffuser or flame deflector, available for less than $2 in hardware stores, can be placed under a pressure cooker for the some purpose.)

Pressure cookers made entirely of aluminum, or with aluminum inner surfaces, may present serious problems from the point of view of palatability and personal health.
Aluminum often leaves an unpleasant taste and may discolor food. Many studies link aluminum in the blood- stream to digestive ailments, kidney dysfunction, and brain disorders. Although the amount of aluminum transferred from the pot to the rood in a single meal is probably negligible, it is also possible that over the long term these amounts could be significant.

Size

The size of the cooker is important. To cook a small amount, you'll do best with a small pressure cooker. Allow approximately one quart of pressure cooker for every person eating. A four-quart cooker, for example, would serve three to five people, a six-quart five to seven.

Cover

The cover is what distinguishes pressure cookers from other pots, and a variety of ingenious designs function to contain steam at a regulated pressure. To work effectively the cover must provide an airtight seal as well as be easy to remove. The gasket is a rubber ring that fits snugly under the rim and ensures that no steam will escape. The Mirro and Presto cookers feature a twist-off cover that fits over the rim of the pot and is locked on at the handle. Several European cookers have a cover that is inserted and then lifted with a lever-like clamp to lit the sloped rim. A third type of cover is made by SEB: it fits over the rim and is secured by tightening a large screw attached to a spring mechanism.

Safety Fixtures

Many people are hesitant to use a pressure cooker because of past bad experiences or tales they've heard. All of the modern pressure cookers discussed here, however, are self-regulating and safe. The pressure regulator keeps the steam at the correct pressure by controlling its escape through a vent. This regulator may be either a detachable weight or a fixed gauge, built into the cover. An emergency pressure escape valve will blow out to release dangerously high pressure. It can consist of a rubber plug or attached metal part. Some models, including the redesigned Presto and the T-Fal also have a cover-blocking mechanism that makes it impossible to open the cover while there is pressure in the pot.

A cook needs only to turn up the heat at the start of cooking, lower it once full pressure is reached (indicated by the pressure regulator, which will jiggle, rock, or hiss), and turn off the heat at the end of cooking. lf the heat is not turned down once pressure is reached, or if food clogs the steam valve, then the backup safety mechanism will be released and will blow off the excess steam. Food will also escape with the steam--making a mess but preventing a serious accident.

Durability

When you are looking at pressure cookers, be sure to pay attention to the following indicators of quality and durability:

  • Does the cover close tightly so that no steam can escape?Is the rubber gasket flexible and well-formed?
  • Are the pressure regulator and safety mechanisms functional and unobstructed?
  • Are all welds, as between the body and handles, complete and strong?
  • Are the edges of the metal ground smooth to prevent nicks?
  • If there is a heat diffuser layer on the bottom, is it well attached?
  • Hold the pot at a distance and check for any dents, bends, or other defects.
  • Check also for the feeling and balance of the pot. Does it seem too heavy? Are the handles comfortable?
  • Is there a lifetime guarantee against faulty workmanship? (Most good pressure cookers come with one.)
Spare PartsEventually, you might need to replace or repair parts of your pressure cooker, including the rubber lid gasket, safety plug, handles, and pressure regulator. Make certain that the parts will be available, affordable, and easy to install. Ask first at the store where you buy your pot whether they stock, or can obtain, spare parts. This may be your most convenient source and should indicate the store's commitment to the cooker. Beyond that, you can rely on the manufacturer or importer. If the importer's name doesn't appearer the box, ask the sales clerk to find it for you before you make your purchase.) Spare parts are available for all the pots we reviewed. The Presto company holds "repair clinics'' in stores throughout the United States.

Cost

Since price is an obvious consideration for most people, it pays to shop around. Most retail distributors sell for quite a bit less than the suggested price. Some stores have seasonal sales and/or offer a discount for quantity orders. There is a wide range in prices among the pressure cookers on the market. While thinking of what you want to spend, keep in mind that a well-cared-for pressure cooker is an investment that will last through many years of regular use. You will probably be happier in the long run if you get what most suits your needs.


Cookers in the Kitchen


We spoke to many cooks, distributors, and others who have had many years' experience with the daily use of pressure cookers, and asked for their comments on the different models. We found almost as many opinions as we did users.
What we concluded is that each pressure cooker has its merits and disadvantages relative to the preferences and needs of each user. The "problems'' mentioned with each cooker are minimal, occasional occurrences. Most of the models have been used daily for years without any problem.

 

Fagor

Fagor is a leader in the pressure cooker category and their quality pressure cookers are valued and trusted by home cooks and professionals alike. Convenience, quality and style are what set their products apart from their competitors.
All Fagor models feature components that greatly reduce cooking time and take the guesswork out of the pressure-cooking experience. With a Fagor pressure cooker, you can create delicious, healthy meals in up to 70% less time than traditional cooking.
Every Fagor model is equipped with standard safety features such as a locking handle that prevents opening under pressure, two independent safety mechanisms, and a spring valve in dial format with an auto-pressure release position. In addition, Fagor products are designed with an exterior mirror finish and are constructed from high gauge 18/10 stainless steel with an aluminum encapsulated base for even heat distribution.




Presto


The Presto company offers the only stainless steel pressure cooker made in the United States. You can find this cooker in hardware and department stores from coast to coast.
The Presto is lightweight, simple in its construction and use, and durable. The cooks who use it expressed a great deal of satisfaction with its cooking ability and felt it com- pared favorably with the European cookers. A few had occasional trouble with the twist-off cover, which can some- times become stuck closed after cooking, and with the handles, which have been known to break. Models manufac tured since 1978 have a pressure safety vent. When pressure is high, the vent rises and becomes braced against a small piece of metal attached to the interior of the pot, which locks the lid.
The Presto is available in two home-cooker sizes of both stainless steel and aluminum. Larger cooker-canner sizes are available in aluminum only. Replacement parts are readily available from Presto.

Presto also makes aluminum pressure cookers so you should make sure that you are buying the stainless steel models when you are buying Presto pressure cookers!

SEB - T-Fal

The French-made SEB has a unique cover. The lid is held firmly against the rim of the pot by means of a large screw clamp that tightens a spring mechanism. This design provides extra security, since the lid actually rises to emit steam if the pressure becomes too high. Some find the lid to be cumbersome and a bit heavy. The handles of the SEB are riveted, an advantage over welded handles, which can break off.
The SEB is of a heavy-gauge stainless steel, with a built- in heat diffuser bottom made of an aluminum sandwich wall. Many cooks appreciate the heavier weight of the pot.
They feel it contributes to its durability and heating qualities.


The T-Fal cooker is a new model produced by the manufacturers of SEB. This pot is made of heavy-gauge steel and has a built-in heat-diffuser bottom. Its cover is a twist-off and features a unique locking system within its handle. A T-Fal representative explained that a locking pin controlled by pressure makes it impossible to raise the lid when there is more than a half pound of pressure still in the pot. A small vent on the outer rim of the cover provides additional safety.

 
Silit Sicomatic-S

The Silit Sicomatic-s, made in Germany, has only recently become available in the United States. The few people who have used it so far commented upon it favorably. Two types are available: an enameled carbon steel pot (in red, brown, white, or orange enamel) with stainless steel lid, and an all- stainless-steel version. The Sicomatic cooker features two pressure settings, one for vegetables, to be used with the stainless steel steamer basket, and the other for grains, beans, and other foods that require longer cooking. The pressure regulator pops tip and is non-detachable. A safety handle directs steam away from the user. The importer's brochure states that a separate heat diffuser is unnecessary.
T-Fal

Kuhn Rikon

 "Made in Switzerland, Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cookers are constructed of 18/10 stainless steel with a solid aluminum core sandwiched between the layers of stainless, for even browning and rapid heat absorption. You will enjoy the ease and special features with the interior fill lines, automatic lid-locking system, and spring-loaded pressure release valve that takes the guesswork out of pressure cooking. Included is a Quick Cuisine Cookbook. Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cookers provides healthier meals and saves you time."

     From Amazon.com:
"This heavyweight, stainless-steel beauty is a fine example of contemporary engineering and style. Its mirror finish gleams, and its black handles--including a loop handle for two-handed lifting--stay cool. Pressure-cooking traps steam to heat foods at temperatures higher than boiling. An aluminum disk in the base, sandwiched by stainless steel, speeds the process even more through fast heat conductivity. It's safe on electric, gas, ceramic, and induction stovetops. Little water is required, so nutrients, flavor, and color are not boiled away. Vegetables emerge vibrantly colored from the steamer insert. Stews, soups, beans--even meat loaf, pork chops, and desserts such as bread pudding--come out tasty and nutritious. (A booklet containing dozens of recipes is included.) You can brown meats in the pot before the lid is locked on, or use the pot without the lid. The stem of the operating valve shows high and low pressure so you can adjust heat for different foods. After cooking, the pressure can be reduced slowly (just let the cooker sit for a while), normally (press the pressure indicator), or quickly (run tepid water on the lid's rim)."

Magefesa

From Best Pressure Cooker: "Magefesa Pressure Cooker has an impressive multi safety features that leaves no room for the user to worry. Definitely reliable and durable as its back-up by a company that is specifically known for years for manufacturing high-quality pressure cookers. It is versatile as it can be used for any cooking surfaces and are available in different sizes to accommodate various household sizes. With its European standards and great emphasis on safety, the high price tag is definitely worth it. Its the sophisticated quality and peace of mind that you paid for. "


Manttra


From Best Pressure Cooker: "Manttra pressure cooker is one of the most common brands today when it comes to this type of cookware and it provides its users with a wide range of choices for unit types. Pressure cookers are making a comeback as more and more people realize exactly how useful they are in cooking. The fact is that not only can they make better tasting food but are also capable of slashing off the length of time it normally takes to cook food using ordinary cookware.
Of course, there are currently various types of pressure cookers that provide users with different features of the product. Ideally, individuals should choose to get models that are crafted by quality brands to ensure that they are only getting the best possible."

WMF

From Best Pressure Cooker: "WMF pressure cooker has a very established background, being made by a company that has been around for years so the highest caliber that we are expecting is definitely met. Reliability and durability are definitely there as they are made of sophisticated stainless steel materials and designed by their expert team. Safety features are one-of-a kind with characteristics like flame prevention and heavy-duty rubber sealing ring. They are simple, easy to use and comes in various sizes to fit each individual’s needs. Spare parts and accessories are readily available in their website and customer service is great. The price tag being on a higher scale ($200-$280) is expected but you will definitely get your money’s worth in the long run."
The Mirro Aluminum Corporation makes only aluminum pressure cookers and cooker-canners. We don't recommend them for everyday use, unless you intend to use a ceramic pot insert at all times. Imported by the Chico-San Company of Chico, California, these ceramic pots are a Japanese invention that is meant to duplicate the heating and cooking qualities of a traditional Japanese method.
Food is placed in the pot, which is covered and put into the pressure cooker, and then brought to pressure in the usual way. By this method, the food never touches the walls of the pressure cooker. The Mirro cooker, similar to Presto, is simple and practical in design, with a twist-off cover of interlocking flanges that locks under pressure. The deluxe models have variable pressure settings.



Aeternum  (Aeternum WENT OUT OF BUSINESS ? years ago -1-3-2015)

This is the most widely distributed of the European cookers. Comments we heard from present users include: " solid, compact, well-built, easy to use, good results.''
Problems included the heat diffuser bottom, which has been known to separate. Some users find the "ear" type handles-which necessitate holding the pot with both hands-cumbersome. The cover is an insert type, held closed by a large cam lever. Some people find that the inner-sloping rim of this model makes the food inside slightly less accessible than with other models, as well as making it difficult to use the cooker as a sauce, soup, or steaming pot. The Aeternum company was reported to be very prompt and reliable in repairing and replacing problem parts when necessary.


Aeterum-Multi

According to Aeternum, their latest design, the Multi, re- sulted from several years of study and experimentation by a team of engineers and cooks, and is intended to satisfy the particular requirements of " dietetic and macrobiotic' ' cooking.
The Aeternum-Multi is a strong stainless steel pot. It has a quarter-inch-thick heat diffuser bottom, and the manufacturer claims it requires no additional heat diffuser in cooking.
The Multi has a twist-off type cover. It does not get stuck, which happens occasionally with other models.
Some users reported a problem with the lit of the cover, which allowed steam to escape and made the pot unusable.
When we checked with an Aeternum-Multi distributor, he acknowledged the problem and told us that it was due to the pot's being knocked around during shipping. Several cooks said they fixed the lids themselves by bending the interlocking lid/body teeth into a tighter fit. Others returned their lid for a replacement.




Do's and Don'ts

It takes very little practice to become skilled in using a pressure cooker. Basic directions for operation and maintenance are outlined in the manufacturer's pamphlet that is included with purchase, and you should understand them clearly before you begin. However, we'd like to reiterate and emphasize several of the most important things to remember:

  1. Always make sure all vents and pressure gauges are clear of obstruction before you fill the cooker. Make sure the rubber ring is clean and snug-fitting and that all surfaces where the cover and body of pot come in contact are clean and smooth.
  2. Never fill the cooker to more than 2/3 capacity-foods swell as they cook and might plug the vent.
  3. Some foods may not be suitable for cooking under pressure-oatmeal, split peas, some dried fruits, etc.They lose their integrity quickly and might plug the vent. Manufacturers will give more extensive lists of these foods in their pamphlets.
  4. Never walk away and leave a cooker that is on its way be up to pressure at high heat. You will need to be there to turn the heat down when the regulator starts hissing and/or rocking.
  5. While the pressure is up, there should be some intermittent gentle hissing as excess steam is released, and if yours is a cooker with a detachable gauge the gauge will rock gently. If you are cooking on low heat, not enough to produce a constant hissing and rocking, you should check occasionally to make sure the contents of the pot are still under pressure. Do this by lightly tap- ping the pressure regulator, not by lifting it. lf the pressure is still up a small burst of steam should come out. If you find that the pressure has gone down altogether, and cooking time is not yet up, turn the heat under the pot up slightly to restore pressure. Don't reheat to high unless cooking time has just commenced.
  6. When cooking time is finished, remove the cooker from the heat, or simply turn off the heat under the pot. If you are in a hurry or want to stop the cooking action immediately, carry the cooker-being careful not to tilt it-to the sink and run a small stream of cold water over one edge of the top until the pressure has gone down. You will definitely know when the pressure is all the way down; the pressure regulator will not make any sound when tapped and then lifted. After the pressure is down, it is usually necessary to completely lift the regulator to release the last bit of steam before opening the cover.
  7. Never try to remove the cover until you are sure pressure is completely down.

As intimidating as it looks at first, it will all become second nature to you, and you will soon find yourself automatically following these rules without having to think about them. Your pressure cooker is likely to become your best kitchen partner, and you'll wonder how you ever got along without one.

From Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure: Over 150 exceptional recipes to make today's safe pressure cooker the essential tool in your kitchen by Lorna J. Sass:

"ADVANTAGES OF SECOND-GENERATION COOKERS

More Versatility:
The design of the stationary measure rod eliminates concerns about clogging the vent and makes it possible to cook beans and rains without careful monitoring or the addition of oil.

User-Friendliness:
It's easier to tell when you've reached high pressure, or if the pressure has dropped because the heat is too low.

Serenity: The new cookers are quiet. There is no chug-chug racket and little to no hissing.

Better Construction: Most are made of high-quality stainless steel and have a copper or aluminum sandwich in the bottom for even cooking. (This is especially important to prevent scorching when using high heat to bring the ingredients up to high pressure.)

Stove-top Release Option: Each model offers a stove- top option for releasing measure. Most jiggle-top cookers must be carried to the sink and placed under cold running water.

Less Liquid: Some models require less than l cup of liquid to bring the cooker up to high pressure. This is not a major concern, but does provide more versatility.

How the Prepare Cooker works The pressure cooker performs its impressive wizardry by cooking foods (with some added liquid) in a tightly sealed pot at a temperature higher than the standard boiling point. When the cooker is set over high heat, steam pressure builds and the internal temperature rises, in- creasing the boiling point from the standard 2 12 degrees to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Under high pressure, the fiber in food is tenderized and flavors mingle in record time.
Since there has to be sufficient room inside the pot for the steam pressure to build, pressure cookers are filled anywhere from halfway to three quarters of total capacity, depending upon the type of ingredient and the manufacturer's specifications.

A New Generation of
Safe Pressure Cookers

The growing interest in pressure cooking over the last decade has in part been a response to a new and improved style of pressure cooker. Introduced to this country from Europe during the mid-eighties, this sophisticated appliance -what I refer to as a second-generation pressure cooker - has a stationary pressure regulator rather than a removable jiggle-top.
Among the popular jiggle-tops are brands such as T-Fal, Presto, and Mirro. Some manufacturers of second-generation cookers include Kuhn-Rikon, Magefesa, Zepter, and Cuisinarts.
Most cookers now on the market (both first-generation jiggle-tops and second-generation models) have one backup mechanisms that prevent the buildup of excess pressure and are therefore quite safe to use. However, second- generation cookers provide a number of advantages worth considering.

What Size Cooker
Should I Buy?For those investing in their first cooker, I usually recommend a 6- or an 8-quart model. This may seem rather large, but keep in mind that the pressure cooker cannot be more than three quarters full (only halfway full when cooking beans) since there has to be sufficient room inside the pot for the steam pressure to build. A quart cooker is an ideal size for cooking soups and stews; an quart is preferred if you like to cook in quantity and make stocks. If you really get into pressure cooking, there will be many times when you'll want to cook two dishes at once, perhaps a bean stew and a grain pilaf. For a second cooker, I recommend a 2 1/2 or a 4-quart, which are ideal for cooking grains espe-cially risotto) and most vegetables. Please note that European cookers are sized by liters. A 2-liter cooker is roughly 2 1/2 quarts. A six-liter cooker holds about 4 quarts, and so on."

To find more information on pressure cookers please visit macroCOOK and follow this path:

Links > Things > Pressure Cookers

Thank you, very much.

Bruce Paine