Did you know that pressure cookers can cut cooking times to a third of that of a conventional oven? They’re perfect for busy families who don’t want to let a hectic schedule get in the way of eating healthily, as well as a brilliant way to minimise your energy usage in the kitchen and potentially save hundreds of pounds over a year.
A modern pressure cooker requires as little as 1/2 cup water to create enough superheated steam to cook with, cutting down our water usage – if you’re on a meter, that’s another money saver. Replace regular boiling and baking with pressure cooking and a £40-£60 pressure cooker could well pay for itself within just a few months!
Don’t get pressure cookers confused with the slow cooker or ‘crock pot’. Slow cookers also have a reputation for energy saving, but unfortunately cooking at very low temperatures over many hours leads to loss of vitamins and nutrients. Make sure you get the most for the money you spend on groceries! The food from pressure cookers is far more nutritious than that from either conventional ovens or slow cookers – colours and flavours stick around when food is steamed very quickly.
Decades ago, when safety standards weren’t as strict, pressure cookers got a bad press because of all the hissing and rattling involved and more than a few explosions. When some green living friends of mine were first talking about how fantastic their pressure cooker was, I felt a bit wary of trying one out just in case I blew myself up! At that point I didn’t know how simple modern pressure cookers are to use. They’re packed with new safety features: vent pipes, automatic locks so you can’t open the cooker when pressurised and fail-safe pressure release valves.
I use my pressure cooker almost daily now – it even comes camping with us as it’s so economical with fuel when cooking over a camp stove. All those credit crunch staples, such as dried pulses and cheap cuts are done in a trice…
- ***We can go from dried to perfectly cooked beans in just 40 minutes, so we no longer have to remember to pre-soak overnight!
- ***Brown rice, which used to take 45 minutes or more to cook in a normal pan with a lid, is ready in less than 20 minutes in the pressure cooker. White rice is done in five minutes flat!
- ***As well as producing veg with just the right amount of bite, pressure cookers can melt even the cheapest cuts of meat off the bones in half an hour. Take a look at these delicious recipes for Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Port Wine and Hungarian Chicken – feel hungry yet?
Pressure cookers aren’t ideal for every dish. If you want to improvise and cook something by taste then you’d be better off with a normal set of pans as you have to depressurise each time you want to check the food. However, for beans, grains, potatoes and ‘bung it in’ one pot meals, there can hardly be a more tasty and economical way to cook. Just make sure to double up on the recipes so you can keep some for lunch the next day!
What do you think about pressure cookers? Do you use one already or are you just considering the investment?