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 use 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 every day kitchen needs.
So why should you make a pressure cooker as much a part of your kitchen as it is mine? Here’s why.
1. They can do a lot more than pressure cooking
These days, most pressure cookers are true multi-function devices, with options for slow cooking, pressure cooking, sautéing and more in their bag of tricks.
2. Food cooks quicker
This, of course, is the prime reason people originally fell in love with them. 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.
3. 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 tastier and better meals for you.
4. 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.
5. You can cook just about anything
Pre-cook potatoes to suit all kinds of spud styles? Sure. Asian Hotpot style cooking? No problem. You can even make a good old-fashioned Albany style steamed ham in one of these things.
6. 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.
7. 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.
All sorts of foods 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.
The best pressure cookers you can buy in Australia
If you’re keen to get started, there’s a wide variety of choices and price points for pressure cookers. Here are our top picks.
A simple but easy to use multi-function slow cooker and pressure cooker in one.
Where to buy: Amazon ($174.30, usually $249)
If all that steam makes you nervous, Breville states that its Fast Slow Pro Multi Cooker boasts hands-free steam release.
Where to buy: Amazon ($169)
Tefal’s take is a pressure cooker from the old school, with just two cooking programs – vegetables or meat – on offer.
Where to buy: Amazon ($127.99, usually $299.95)
With a 6 litre capacity and 7 pressure settings, the Russell Hobbs pressure cooker offers a lot of variety.
Where to buy: Amazon ($114)
Sunbeam’s smaller unit could be good for tinier kitchens or folks on a budget.
Where to buy: Amazon ($135, usually $189)
Editor’s note: Descriptions and features are as taken from manufacturer/seller claims and user reviews on Amazon. This post has been updated since its original publication.