Knowing Your Stove Top Pressure Cooker is key if you want to be able to cook flawless meals for the family, but dont be put off it really is easy to use a pressure cooker. While it would be great, there is no actual way of seeing inside the pot once the lid has been locked in place. In a nut shell liquid reaches a boil and produces steam, this steam is kept locked inside the pot by an airtight seal, this causes an increase in pressure inside the pot – 15lbs of pressure.
This results in the liquid reaching boil – 250 degrees F instead of the standard 212 degrees F. Because of this higher boiling point, the fibers in foods break down much quicker than using conventional methods.
Reaching pressure is dependent on the density of the foods you are cooking and how full the pot is. Usually pressure is reached after five to twenty minutes. Once the pot reaches your pressure requirement, set the timer and drop the temperature on your stove top burner to maintain your desired pressure level.
If your food isn’t fully cooked after the pressure has been released, either by using the quick release method or naturally, you are able to put the pot back on the stove with the lid left off for a few more minutes of cooking time. Or you can lock the lid back on and allow any remaining steam created by the food to finish the cooking.
While stove top pressure cookers are truly wonderful pieces of kitchen equipment you will encounter times when food is slightly undercooked, there are a few reasons for this happening, it could be the pressure wasn’t maintained at a constant level due to the regulator not being watched by you. One thing to remember is that you cant 100% predict how long certain foods will take to cook, some ingredients may take longer for a number of reasons such as density, freshness and size.
Back in a day where TV screens where black and white stove top pressure cookers would have a weight sitting on top of the lid, this was less than safe, the pressure pushes up on the lid and would move the weight, when the weight fell off a shower of food would explode from the cooker.
Today’s pressure cookers all come with in-built safety features. If the pressure gets too high a safety vent (more than one on some stove top pressure cookers) will release the pressure automatically. Now this doesnt mean you can go out clothes shopping while the cooker is left on the stove, it means you will get a warning in the form of sound, a whistle will let you know if too much pressure is building up.
I recommend you experiment with the heat on your burner to work out how high you want the heat in order to reach high pressure, play around with it until you find the sweet spot, you can use a flame tamer to maintain an even level of heat on a gas stove.
Releasing pressure on your stove top pressure cooker
There are a few different ways you can release the pressure on your stove top pressure cooker, there are a couple methods for a quick release. There is the manual release which is achieved by pulling the locking handle, not all stove top pressure cookers have this feature, so i recommend you purchase a cooker with this feature. The other quick release method is to run cold water over the pressure cooker which allows the pressure to drop.
You can allow the pressure to release naturally by simply taking it off the heat, it can take anywhere between five and twenty minutes for the pressure to drop to a level where its safe to remove the lid. There are safety features in the stove top pressure cooker which prevents you from opening the lid until pressure is released.
Deciding which method you want to use would depend on what your cooking, for example a risotto would benefit from a quick release method, where as a beef stew would benefit from a natural release.
Check out my in depth guide on the type of pressure cooker recipes you can cook in your pressure cooker.