If you are wondering which are the best cooking pots today, you must consider the pressure cookers. Pressure cookers were in vogue in the time of our grandparents and parents, when a quality saucepan was hard to find and very valuable.
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There followed a period when pots of this type disappeared almost completely and had become a vintage curiosity. In recent years, pressure cooking has returned in force, with the help of technological advances. Today's models are almost unlike the old ones and have produced a real revolution in the kitchen, being able to prepare a healthy meal extremely quickly and efficiently.
What is a pressure cooker? If in a normal pan the food is prepared by boiling, the pressure cooker uses a different method. The airtight lid causes hot steam to build up inside and penetrate the food well. This procedure offers many advantages, which we will detail below.
But what are the best pressure cookers , given that there are so many different models on the market? We aim to give you the answer to this question and help you choose the pot you need. The right model depends on several factors, such as the space available in the kitchen, the dishes you want to cook and last but not least the budget you want to spend. We will briefly explain the types of pressure cookers and the details you need to pay attention to in order to make the right choice.
There are many reasons why a pressure cooker is better than a normal one. Doctors today recommend foods prepared under pressure because it is a very healthy method of cooking. Oxidative reactions are minimized, so the ingredients retain almost all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in their composition. At the same time, steam technology uses less energy than other methods and is faster, which means less time wasted in the kitchen.
Modern devices are extremely efficient and quiet, and more recently they have become very versatile. If in the old pots you could not do more than prepare a piece of meat, today's ones are able to process many more ingredients and even to quickly cook complex dishes.
All you have to do is put a combination of meat, vegetables and a little water in your appliance and a delicious meal will be ready in just a few minutes, about the time you set the cutlery and open a bottle of wine. That is why many consumers have become convinced fans of pressure cookers in recent years, which ensure a healthy and tasty food at the same time, with maximum energy efficiency.
The first types of pressure cookers, those of our youth, were very noisy and you can still find them on sale today at thrift stores. They are based on a rather primitive system: the lid is kept closed by a weight over which is a rotary valve that allows the release of excess steam. The result is a series of funny whistles that you may remember from your grandmother's kitchen. These pans require constant monitoring but they still do their job and you can buy a vintage 5 liter pressure cooker if you are a traditionalist or an eccentric. The main disadvantage is that the temperature cannot be adjusted in any way.
The first electric pressure cooker appeared in the 90's. These models allow the adjustment of pressure and temperature but the facilities offered have evolved over time. The first devices had only a manual timer, without a process control. Later, pots with a digital display appeared, which could be pre-programmed according to the desired dish. Finally, modern pots are smart appliances in which all parameters can be set. These multifunctional models are also good for other kitchen tasks and can, for example, prepare puree, rice, yogurt and many other recipes that do not necessarily require pressure.
Pressure vessels operate on the basis of steam that accumulates in a sealed space. So you need a liquid that turns into steam, usually water is used but the more pretentious recipes replace it with meat juice or even wine. The liquid is transformed into steam and the pot is heated until it reaches the desired temperature and pressure, a process that lasts up to 10 minutes. At this point the temperature drops to maintain a constant level of pressure inside, and in a few minutes the steam enters the food and cooks it in depth, without affecting the molecular structure.
After the food is cooked, the pressurized steam inside must be drained before opening the lid. The fastest but also the most dangerous method uses cold water to quickly reduce the pressure inside. If a small hole is left open, the steam comes out in force and can cause accidents. Some models have a valve that allows the safe removal of steam safely. Finally, the easiest way to reduce the pressure is to simply let the pot cool naturally for 10-15 minutes.
What pot size should you choose? It depends on your needs and how much food you need to prepare, the offers on the market start from the 3 liter pressure cooker and up to 6-9 liters for home models. These small 3l appliances are enough for a small family of up to two people, the largest provide food for 5 or 6 people. Pressure cookers are usually large and heavy so you need to make sure you have enough space available in the kitchen before choosing a larger capacity. Don't forget that the devices come with certain accessories, which also take up space. If you are not going to use them very often, small models are enough for all the needs of a normal household.
There are of course also professional appliances, which are used in restaurants or for industrial applications. A 50 liter pressure cooker is very large but can prepare tens or hundreds of servings at the same time. These models are not designed for the home and you will never find them in a normal kitchen, but they work exactly on the same principles as home appliances.
Price is a very important criterion when choosing a pressure cooker, but also pay attention to quality. In the case of classic pans, which are set on fire, a higher price means a better quality of materials. The more expensive models are made of stainless alloys instead of aluminum and have a thicker base, which conducts heat better and resists over time. In the case of electrical appliances, the higher price reflects the number of functions and accessories included. In addition, the more expensive models are multifunctional and can also be used to prepare complex dishes.
A pressure cooker at a good price must, however, have a number of basic facilities. If you choose a pan that is used on the stove, pay attention to the elements that simplify its use. The pot must have a non-stick surface, an efficient closing system, a pressure indicator that will tell you when it has reached the correct level and a steam evacuation system. It is also good if it can be broken down into components compatible with the dishwasher or if it comes with accessories that help you prepare the food. Cheap models generally do not have complex settings but are good enough for a small family.
In the case of electric models, all the above tips apply but you need to look for some additional features. The power of the device depends directly on the number of watts, the higher the better. Choose a model that automatically controls the temperature so that food does not burn and that offers as many settings and preset cooking programs as possible. The quick pressure relief function is also useful if something went wrong. The most expensive variants are smart models with Bluetooth connectivity, which you can control through the application on your mobile phone.
To avoid accidents in the kitchen, it is very important to choose a safe pot and follow the rules of use. The first thing you need to check every time is whether the seal is intact. Most manufacturers recommend replacing it at least once a year and it is good to always have a replacement gasket on hand. The lid can open unexpectedly if it is not watertight, with very dangerous consequences especially if you have a large model, such as a 9 liter pressure cooker.
Remember that food grows in size when heated, so you should never fill the pot too much to avoid severe burns. Steam cooking is based on a balance between temperature and pressure, you must always maintain a relationship between them. Do not try to fry in the pressure cooker because you will destroy the valves and be careful to put enough water to generate steam. The most delicate moment is when you open the lid and release the pressure, so you have to be very careful. Read and apply the operating instructions of the appliance each time.
What dishes can be cooked in a pressure cooker? In the old days you could only make a kind of meat broth, but today's devices have advanced functions and have become a kind of general purpose robot. You are actually limited only by the cooking time of the pressure cooker, which makes some recipes not recommended.
Pressure cookers have always been popular because they allow the preparation of cheaper pieces of meat, which are stronger than high quality ones. Recipes of this type continue to be among the most common, but we will briefly present other possible uses of the pressure cooker.
Steam is very suitable for preparing mashed potatoes (or other vegetables), with much better results than boiling. You can also make a vegetable or chicken soup. Stews and other assortments based on a mixture of vegetables and meat can be made extremely quickly, they are ready in less than 10 minutes after you put them in the pot. Paradoxically, there are several types of dessert that you can cook under pressure, primarily tarts or cheesecakes.
To choose the best pressure cooker , we recommend that you start with an online documentary and read reviews written by others. Nowadays you can find videos with the device running but also many more or less successful recipes recommended by others. However, do not buy a model without seeing it with your own eyes in a showroom or store, just so you have a clear picture of the size and quality of the materials. The same rules apply here as for all household or kitchen products: a well-known brand gives you security but you can find an equally good but cheaper pot from a smaller company, if you know exactly what you are looking for.
Take into account all the elements we have presented above, especially the capacity and functions you need. The warranty period and the safety settings are also important. If you want to prepare only simple recipes, it does not make sense to pay extra for a complex device. However, a multifunctional pot can replace other kitchen appliances and help you save time and money.
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