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What to look for when buying a pressure cooker?

Updated on February 24, 2011

Pressure cooking has become more popular over the few last years. People want to eat healthier without having to sacrifice hours in the kitchen. Pressure cookers are ideal if you are always in a hurry but you want still to do some home cooking. I’m a busy mom of two and I consider pressure cooker to be one of the greatest inventions of mankind. It saves time, energy and nutrients as well.

Today there are many different pressure cooker brands and models you can find in stores. Still, there are a few things you should know when buying a pressure cooker, like what operating pressure to choose, what material, etc. A slight detail can make a huge difference.

Here is a list of the points to consider when looking for a pressure cooker:

1. The material: Pressure cookers are usually made with stainless steel or aluminum. Both materials have good sides to it. Stainless steel is durable, easy to clean and non reactive with foods, while aluminum is an excellent heat conductor, is lightweight and moderately priced. On the other hand aluminum is reactive with certain acidic foods and the lower quality aluminum can leak into food. An all aluminum cooker is great for canning, but in my opinion a combination of stainless steel and aluminum is ideal for cooking. Stainless steel on the outside layers and aluminum in the center. The pressure cookers made with this combination of materials can be a little bit more expensive but you will get the best of both materials.

2. The amount of PSI: Psi stands for pounds per square inch and is used for indicating the operating pressure of the cooker. This is one of the most important things in a pressure cooker. Always check if the pressure cooker you have chosen has the right amount of psi. Because if you choose a pressure cooker with a lower operating pressure you won’t get the desired cooking speed. And speed is one of the main things why you want to get a pressure cooker. What is the right amount of psi? In my opinion 15 psi is ideal. Remember the higher the pressure the quicker the cooking. Why is that? Well the cooking temperature rises with the increase of pressure. So, choose a pressure cooker that operates at 15 psi. If your pressure cooker has less than 15 psi (12, 11, 10 or 8 psi) you will spend more time, energy (and money) for preparing your meals. Moreover, prolonged cooking decreases the nutritional value of food.

3. Dual pressure: Check if the pressure cooker has a dual pressure setting. Dual pressure means that the pressure cooker has both a high and a low pressure setting. The high pressure setting is usually 15 psi and the lower is usually 8 psi. You will probably use the high pressure setting more often (for everyday cooking). The lower pressure setting is ideal for cooking delicate vegetables and fruits and seafood.

4. Easy usage: When choosing a pressure cooker you should consider getting a cooker that is easy to use. Some pressure cookers are so complicated to use that most people give up from using them. You will want your pressure cooker to have a lid that is easy to close. Your pressure indicator must be easy to read, so you’ll know right away when the needed pressure is reached (and you can start measuring the cooking time). The releasing of the pressure should be easy too and is done usually by turning or touching the pressure valve or selector.

5. The handle: choose a pressure cooker with a longer and ergonomic handle. A longer handle won’t be placed directly over the heat source and therefore it will stay cooler.

6. Safety: even though today’s pressure cookers are safe to use, avoid buying a cooker that is too cheap. Choose a pressure cooker from a renowned brand that has high safety standards and that is UL listed.

Click here for a great pressure cooker that has it all!

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