How to Use a Power Cooker

By Staff WriterLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 6:52:55 PM ET
Bowl of food
CCO/naimbic/Pixabay

Power cookers, also known as pressure cookers, are a convenient and fast way to cook meals for the entire family. A power cooker is like a slow cooker on steroids. Just like a slow cooker, you can set it and forget it, without having to wait 10 hours for your food to be ready. This device uses pressure to force heat into your food, resulting in meals that are quick yet tender.

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Despite cooking meals that are quick, easy and delicious, power cookers aren't the most common kitchen appliance. One reason could be that people view them as dangerous, and while this may have been true in the past; modern power cookers are full of safety features that make them no more dangerous than other appliances. Read on for some tips to get you started making delicious meals with your power cooker.

Get to Know Your Power Cooker

Most power cookers all work the same, and you simply choose the length of time to cook. The preset buttons are just different programmed time settings. It's a good idea to become familiar with the timer buttons and to get to know their preset times. This will help you when you find a recipe you want to try, and it calls for the cooking time to be a certain number of minutes. You'll know which button is closest to that time, and then you can adjust the exact time manually.

There's a specific process to go through to set things, such as cooking time and temperature, so be sure to read your manual before you start cooking. The one thing that all power cookers have in common is that they require liquid. A power cooker works by turning liquid into steam, and then the steam is used to build up the pressure that cooks your meal.

Safe Power Cooker Use

Since your power cooker is capable of building up more than 15 pounds of pressure per square inch while cooking a meal, it's important to take some safety precautions. All power cookers have some sort of gauge to measure the psi inside the device, and it's crucial to vent this pressure before you remove the lid.

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On most modern appliances it's as simple as pressing a button. Some power cookers feature a safety lock on the lid, which makes it impossible to remove before the pressure is released. You'll want to read your manual on how to safely release steam before opening the li, since this is likely the most dangerous part of the cooking process. Always check to make sure that the lid is properly sealed and that the latches are secured before starting to cook.

Using Your Power Cooker for the First Time

First of all, get to know how your pressure cooker builds up the pressure by cooking only with water. This is often called a water test and is simple to do:

  • Add a cup or two of water to the power cooker pot. Always use the inner pot and then lock the lid in place.
  • Make sure the valve is in the sealing/pressure cooking position.
  • Select a preset button with a short cook time
  • Watch while the power cooker does all the work. It'll take about five minutes for the water to heat up enough to build pressure. When the right pressure is reached the time will start counting down.
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Second, you’ll need to know how to release the pressure once the power cooker has finished cooking. The easiest way is to simply do nothing and let the pressure release by itself. When making meals that cook quickly, you'll want to release the pressure fast so that it won't overcook. This is when you use the quick release button on your cooker. Again, be sure to read the manual on how to do this.

Third, for the best results start with a recipe created especially for the power cooker. Once you've done the water test, and cooked a couple of easy recipes, you'll be ready to start converting your own recipes with success.

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