One piece of kitchen equipment that I think has been neglected by my generation is the pressure cooker. Most of our grandma's probably had one in their kitchen. In an age where people are looking for fast food, it's surprising that people aren't turning to the pressure cooker. But they should. Pressure cookers allow you to do jobs that normally take hours like making your own broth or shredded beef for tacos in an hour or less.
The way a pressure cooker works is that it increases the amount of PSIs inside the pot. This rise in pressure allows water to boil at a higher temperature thus decreasing cooking time. When looking for a cooker there is a couple things you need to keep in mind.
1. Feels heavy
A heavy bottom pot disturbs the heat better. If it feels light it is probably cheap and not as efficient.
2. Has two handles
When lifting a heavy pot full of water and whatever you are cooking it's best to have two handles to hold it. The second handle doesn't have to be fancy, just something to grab.
3. Easy to buy replacement parts for
Even the best pressure cooker will wear down over time. The inner ring in the lid may need to be replaced at some point. It's best to buy one from a company where you can easily buy a new inner ring or sealing ring. This saves you from having to buy a new cooker. A couple companies that make their replacement rings easily available are Presto and WMF.
4. Buy at least a 6 qt size
You want to be sure you have enough room for anything you want to cook in your pressure cooker. Mine is a little on the small size (a 4 qt) and it's tough to jam an entire chicken into it whenever I want to make chicken & dumplings.
5. Do you want to be able to can with your cooker?
If you are looking into buying a pressure cooker that you can also can with, look for the appropriate type. A pressure canner is needed for canning anything that isn't highly acidic like vegetables. Presto makes a pressure cooker/canner that is affordable and has gotten some positive reviews.
Recommended Pressure Cookers
The cooker that I have (pictured above) is an old model that my mom gave to me. So I am not an expert on the most modern cookers. So when I need a little help on gathering information I turn to Alton Brown, star of Food Network's Good Eats. In the episode The Big Chili, Alton uses a WMF Perfect Plus cooker. I don't know the exact model he used in that episode, but I know it was this brand. These cookers are top of the line and also come with a top of the line kind of price. But if you can afford, more power to you. For more budget minded people, a pressure cooker made by Presto will do just nicely. Alton mentions them in his book "Alton Brown's Gear For Your Kitchen".
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