I’ve talked to many people who are afraid to use a pressure cooker. It seems there are many stories out there of pressure cookers exploding while cooking, generally from our grandmother’s era. And I admit myself that I had my pressure cooker in the box for several years after I got it as a wedding gift. But now that I’ve been using one for nearly 15 years, I’m not sure what I’d do without it. After I got used to using a traditional pressure cooker, I also purchased an electric. I’ll go through and add a bit of details about both.
A traditional stovetop pressure cooker. There are some very detailed usage guides on the internet I’m just going to talk about the pros and cons and try to convince you what a useful tool it is in the arsenal.
What it does well:
- cooks things very fast
- beans…seriously the best beans ever.
- breaks down connective tissue in tough cuts of meat
- makes sauces and stocks in less than half the time (see above, cooks things very fast). Stock made in a pressure cooker is fantastic because it’s exceptionally good at breaking down the collagen in the connective tissue.
- It’s great for making large batches of meat to be used in other recipes (for example cooking multiple chicken breasts to be shredded and used in enchiladas, casseroles or salads. I would always use this as a replacement for any recipe that called for canned chicken because the texture is so much better.)
- Those nights where you forgot to put whatever you were cooking in the slow cooker.
- Fantastic for different kinds of soups.
- It sterilizes things.
Things you need to watch out for:
- Do not overfill!
- You need to make sure there’s enough liquid. Trust me on this one, scorched beans stink to high heaven and are a bear to clean up after.
Electric pressure cooker
The awesome thing about the electric pressure cooker is that it’s programmable, has multiple settings, the brown feature is *awesome*, and can be safely run when you’re not at home to do it. It can double as a slow cooker so that’s a nice feature. The one drawback as I see it is that it’s nowhere near as fast as a stove top pressure cooker. Frankly, I love having both options and it’s nice to have that extra flexibility of another cooking tool when you’re entertaining.
Update 2/5/20: Shortly after writing this post, I killed the Nesco and finally succumbed to the Instant Pot. I used my first Instant Pot for 2 years, and recently replaced it with the Instant Pot Max (I killed the first Instant Pot by doing something very stupid. It would have been going strong if not for that). Instant Pot Max
There’s some nice info here http://www.hippressurecooking.com/the-difference-between-stove-top-and-electric-pressure-cookers/
Do not fear the pressure cooker!