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4 Reasons You Need a Pressure Cooker

This is not your Grandma's exploding pressure cooker. Today's pressure cookers can make your life easier and your meals healthier.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
December 6, 2016
Episode #408

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Pressure cookers are having a big resurgence these days! They are the hottest new cooking device—although they are actually not that new at all. Many of us remember the somewhat scary pressure cookers our moms or grandmothers had, clanging and hissing on the stove top and always in danger of exploding and spraying the contents all over the ceiling. But today’s pressure cooker is an entirely different animal.

I have four reasons you might want to consider investing in a pressure cookier, if you don’t already have one. They would also make great holiday gifts for someone who enjoys food and cooking. And if you already have a pressure cooker, I have a few tips on how to get the best results when cooking with it.

1.) Today’s electronic pressure cookers are safer and easier to use.  

They sit on your counter top instead of on your stove and plug into the wall. They have locking lids and safety features that virtually eliminate the danger of explosions or steam burns. You can also program them to cook on a timer. Many models have settings that also allow you to use them as slow cookers, yogurt makers, and all kinds of other cool stuff. They range from about $60 to $150 dollars.

2.) Pressure cookers slash cooking time.

Cooking from scratch is a great way to save money and improve your nurtrition. Because they cook foods in a fraction of the time that you'd otherwise need, pressure cookers can make it a lot easier for busy families to put a home cooked dinner on the table at the end of a busy day.

Pressure cookers work by creating a tight seal that doesn’t allow air or moisture to escape. This raises the pressure inside the pot, which dramatically speeds cook times. A pot of soup or stew hat you might simmer for 2 or 3 hours on the stove can be done in 40 minutes. A pot roast that would take 8 hours in a slow cooker is done in 45 minutes. Start a pot of steel cut oats before you step in to the shower and it'll be done before you can dry off. You can steam vegetables or bake potatoes or sweet potatoes in less time than it would take to cook them in the microwave.

The time-savings are especially dramatic when you’re working with dried beans. Instead of having to boil them for a couple of hours to soften, you can cook dried beans in about 20 minutes, assuming you’ve soaked them first. If you forgot to soak them, they’ll still only take about 40. So, if like, like me, you never remember to soak your beans the day before you want to cook with them, you can come home from work, pull a pound of dried beans out of the cabinet and be sitting down to black bean soup less than an hour later.

The decrease in cooking time along gives pressure cookers an edge in terms of healthy eating. But there are other advantages as well.

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