A pressure cooker can do so much more than just quick meat cooking, and every single kitchen can benefit from having one. Here’s why.
When most people think of pressure cookers, they typically think of meals such as meat-heavy stews, because classically, that’s what you used a pressure cooker for. Modern pressure cookers are far more flexible devices when it comes to meal preparation for individuals or a complete family.
My own pressure cooker is, if you’ll pardon the pun, under a lot of pressure every single day. There genuinely isn’t an item in my kitchen that sees more regular everyday meal preparation work than my pressure cooker.
So much so that a few years back when I’d accidentally melted the base of my hard-working model – a long and painful story involving a bumped hotplate switch and improperly moved cooker – I rushed out that day and bought an identical replacement one. A painful and pricey lesson, but also a sign of how important it is to my everyday kitchen needs.
So why should you make a pressure cooker as much a part of your kitchen as it is mine? Here’s why.
- They can do a lot more than pressure cooking: Most pressure cookers these days are true multi-function devices, with options for slow cooking, pressure cooking, sautéing and more in their bag of tricks.
- You can cook very quickly in them: This of course is the prime reason people fell in love with them originally. For at-home preparation, especially for meats or vegetables that can take hours to boil or bake there’s nothing that compares to the speed.
- It can be healthier than the alternatives: Moisture and nutrients are trapped in a way that other methods, such as boiling simply don’t. What that adds up to are meals that are tastier and better for you.
- You can use it with frozen ingredients: It’s not quite ideal, but if the alternatives are to simply stare at that meat and ponder if a meat paddle pop would be tasty (spoiler: no), then dropping your frozen meat in and letting it work its magic is a great way to a quick meal if you’ve been less than organised at the start of the day.
- The range of what you can do is pretty wild: Pre-cook potatoes to suit all kinds of spud style? Sure. Asian Hotpot style cooking? No problem. You can even make a good old-fashioned Albany style steamed ham in one of these things.
- It’s environmentally sound: Take rice preparation, for example. If you were preparing rice with a standard cooker, you’d need way more water and a lot more power for a longer period of time. You might also save money on your power bill this way.
- There’s something hypnotic about releasing the steam: OK, maybe this one is just me. But still, there’s a feeling of immense satisfaction that’s somewhat akin to what I imagine old-time steam train drivers must have felt when you let the steam rip at the end of a successful pressure adventure. Although if your cats are anything like mine, they will scramble away in fear every time this happens.
It is worth remembering that a pressure cooker isn’t the go-to option for every single food type.
There’s all sorts of foods that will go south rapidly if you try to cook them this way, from delicate shellfish to vegetables because of their fragility, to pancakes, because making pancakes this way turns them into a gluey gross mess.
Pressure Cooker Options
There’s a wide variety of choices and price points for pressure cookers if you’re keen to get started. Here’s some options on Amazon.com.au:
Philips Viva Collection All in One Multi Cooker/Pressure Cooker/Slow HD2237/72 $179
A simple but easy to use multi-function slow cooker and pressure cooker in one.
Breville The Fast Slow Pro Multi Cooker $299
If all that steam makes you nervous, Breville states that its Fast Slow Pro Multi Cooker boasts hands-free steam release.
Tefal Secure 5 Neo Pressure Cooker P2534438 $114
Tefal’s take is a pressure cooker from the old school, with just two cooking programs – vegetables or meat – on offer.
Russell Hobbs Electric Multi Cooker/Pressure Cooker $117
With a 6 litre capacity and 7 pressure settings, the Russell Hobbs pressure cooker offers a lot of variety.
Philips Premium Collection All In One Multi Cooker/Pressure Cooker/Slow Cooker HD2178/72 $269
Philips’ premium pressure cooker adds functions such as searing, temperature control and the ability to keep food warm for up to 12 hours once it’s worked its pressure cooking magic.
Sunbeam PE6100 6L Electronic Aviva Pressure Cooker $125
Sunbeam’s smaller unit could be good for tinier kitchens, or folks on a budget.
Editor’s note: Descriptions and features are as taken from manufacturer/seller claims and user reviews on Amazon.