Cooking with a Pressure Cooker

Cooking with a Pressure Cooker
Cindy Schlenker Davies, Home Economist
Bernalillo County Extension Service
1510 Menaul NW
Albuquerque, NM, 87107
Cooking with a
Pressure Cooker
Bernalillo County
Extension Service
Bread and Butter Pudding with
Raspberry Sauce
Introduction to
Pressure Cooking
Cooking with a pressure cooker is often a scary thought for
people. Perhaps you have one in your cabinet that you have
been afraid to use. Maybe you are considering the purchase of
a new pressure cooker. Be at ease with the safe and quick
method of cooking under pressure!
Learning how to use a pressure cooker may take some time,
but in the end it will save you more than time. Pressure cooked
food can be delicious and nutritious. Tasty meals can be prepared in very little time while preserving nutrients and saving
Using a pressure cooker will help you:
Reduce cooking time by 50% or more compared to conventional cooking techniques
Decrease energy usage
Keep your kitchen cool
Make great tasting food with or without added fats
Use less expensive cuts of meat, pressure cooking will tenderize meat
Boost your nutrition by locking in flavor and color
Make cooking meals change from boring to delicious
So, as long as you follow directions, you cannot hurt yourself
with a pressure cooker. But you can get flavor packed meals
together in minutes that taste like they took all day. A good rule
of thumb is that an ingredient will cook in one-quarter to onethird of the time it takes with another method. The reason is
simple. Putting the contents of the pot under pressure by trapping the steam raises the boiling point of water. Critics of pressure cooking are often people who like to monitor what’s going
on in the pot. With this technique, it isn’t an option. It takes
some getting used to, but the time savings is always worth the
2 tablespoons butter, softened
5 slices French bread, 1/2-inch thick
Ground nutmeg
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups milk, heated
Butter one side of bread slices. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.
Cut into quarters. Arrange in 1-quart buttered casserole that fits
loosely in a 6-quart Presto® pressure cooker. Beat eggs, egg
yolk, sugar, and vanilla. Slowly add milk to egg mixture. Pour
over bread. Cover casserole securely with aluminum foil. Place
cooking rack or steamer basket and 4 cups water in 6-quart
pressure cooker. Place casserole on rack or in basket. Close
cover securely. Do not place pressure regulator on vent pipe.
Heat until steam flows gently through vent pipe. COOK 5
MINUTES. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe. COOK 10
MINUTES, at 15 pounds pressure. Cool cooker at once. Serve
warm, or at room temperature with Raspberry Sauce.
Raspberry Sauce
 1 (10-ounce) package frozen (thawed) raspberries
 1/2 cup red currant jelly
 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Combine raspberries, jelly, and cornstarch in saucepan. Cook
and stir until sauce boils and thickens. Strain sauce. Let cool.
Quick and Easy Pinto
1 lb. dried pinto beans
3 cups water
Place beans and water in pressure cooker. Bring to a boil and
boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for
at least 1 hour, but preferably 4 hours or more. Drain and discard the soaking water and rinse the beans.
Place beans back into pressure cooker and cover with at least
2 inches of water (or broth), but not more than half full. Add 1
to 2 tablespoons of a pure fat, such as cooking oil, bacon drippings, or butter, in order to minimize foaming. Lock the lid in
place. Bring to 15psi over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain and stabilize that pressure and cook for 12 to 15 minutes.
Use the natural release method when pressure cooking any
type of dried bean or legume. Check for doneness, and if necessary return the beans to pressure for an additional 3 minutes.
Add salt after the beans have finished cooking in order to avoid
Serves 6 to 8.
Here are some tips to help get you started using your pressure
When pressure cooking at high altitudes, the cooking time
should be increased. Increase cooking times 5% for every
1000 feet above 2000 feet.
Time increases as follows:
3000 ft.: 5%
4000 ft.: 10%
5000 ft.: 15%
6000 ft.: 20%
7000 ft.: 25%
8000 ft.: 30%
Water boils at 212° F (or 202 degrees at our 5000 ft. altitude)
and creates steam. In a pressure cooker, this steam is safely
locked inside, allowing the temperature to increase higher than
the boiling point and resulting in faster than normal cooking. On
a basic weighted valve pressure cooker, when the pressure
regulator begins to rock, 15 pounds pressure (250° F) is
reached inside the pot. On ALL kinds of pressure cookers, it’s
important to reduce the heat on the stovetop once pressure is
reached. If the heat is not reduced, too much liquid will be released while the cooker is trying to maintain 15 pounds pressure.
Foods cook quickly in the pressure cooker, so precise timing is important to avoid overcooking. The cooking time is
measured from the point at which the correct level of pressure
is reached. Use a timer! Use high heat to bring the pressure
cooker up to pressure then reduce the heat to maintain a
slow, steady level. When the specified cooking time is complete, reduce pressure in the cooker according to the directions
in the recipe.
Three Generations of Pressure Cookers
Pressure cookers that fit into this category operate with a
weight-modified or “jiggler” valve that releases pressure during operation. They are very loud because the weightmodified valve operates similarly to the piston in a steam engine. Many older pressure cookers offer only one pressure
level. The newer “old styles” pressure cookers that allow the
operator to change the weight of the weight-modified valve (5,
10 or 15 pounds of pressure). Many pressure canners also
offer the 3 levels of pressure.
New models or second generation pressure cookers operate
with a spring-loaded valve that is often hidden from view.
Some of these pressure cookers do not release any steam
during operation. They only release steam when the pan is
opened, or as a safety precaution if the heat source is not reduced enough when the pan reaches the required cooking
pressure. This generation is characterized by 2 or more
markings to show the pressure level; others use a dial that the
operator can advance by a few clicks (which adjusts a spring
underneath) to change the pressure setting or release pressure, these release steam during operation. Newer models of
pressure cookers have 2 or 3 redundant release valves for
safety and many also have an interlocking lid that will not allow the user to open the lid if the internal pressure is unsafe
for release.
This type includes an electric heat source that is automatically
regulated to maintain the operating pressure. They also include a spring-loaded valve. Two or more pressure settings
are available on this type of pressure cooker. However, the
pressure cooker type cannot be opened with cold water quick
–release method and should be operation with caution when
releasing vapor through the valve, especially while cooking
foamy foods and liquids (beans, lentils, grains, milk and
Basic Green Beans
Pour ½ cup water into the pressure cooker and add the rack or
steamer tray. If necessary, elevate the rack so it is above the
water line. Place green beans in pressure cooker and lock the
lid in place. Bring to 15psi over high heat; immediately reduce
the heat to the lowest possible setting to stabilize and maintain
that pressure, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the
heat and use the quick or cold water release method to depressurize. Carefully open the lid after the pressure drops. Drain
green beans and place in a warm serving bowl. Season to
taste with butter, salt, and pepper.
Basic Mashed Potatoes
6 medium-size russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
½ cup whole milk, ½ and ½, whipping cream, buttermilk, or sour
cream (your choice)
4 Tablespoons (½ stick) butter, at room temperature
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pour 2/3 cup water into the pressure cooker and add the rack or
steamer tray. If necessary, elevate the rack so it is above the water
line. Add the potatoes and lock the lid in place. Bring to 15psi over
high heat; immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting
to stabilize and maintain that pressure, and cook for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and use the quick or cold water release method
to depressurize. Carefully open the lid after the pressure drops. Use
a colander to drain the potatoes, and set aside. (At this point, you
can put them through a potato ricer for a lighter texture). Reheat the
cooker over medium heat, adding the milk and butter, and heat until
bubbles begin to form around the edge of the cooker. Add the potatoes, salt, and pepper, and start mashing with a potato masher; or
use an electric mixer on a low setting, but do not overdo it or the potatoes will be more like glue. Add more butter if necessary, and adjust
seasonings to taste. Transfer to a warm bowl, and serve. Serves 5
to 6.
Honey Glazed Herbed Carrots
Using Your Pressure Cooking
Selection of pressure cooking equipment: When considering
the purchase of new equipment there are several questions one
might want to decide upon. Manual pressure cookers are available in aluminum or stainless steel and come in 3 basic sizes; 4
quart, 6 quart and 8 quarts. Electric models are generally more
expensive than manual cookers. They do however allow for
ease of preparation and fewer steps in the cooking process.
The electric models may be less intimidating for newer pressure
cooker operators
Parts of a pressure cooker:
1 lb fresh baby carrots, or carrots cut to a similar 2 inches x 1/2 inch
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons butter, not margarine
Add 1/2 cup water to the pressure cooker. Wash the carrots and
place them in a steamer tray. Place the tray in the cooker, using a
cooking rack if needed to elevate it above the water level. Lock the lid
in place. Bring to 15psi over high heat, immediately reduce the heat
to the lowest possible setting to stabilize and maintain that pressure.
Cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat and use the quick release method before opening the lid. Pour off the water and wipe the pressure
cooker dry. Melt the butter in the pressure cooker over medium heat.
Add the dill and fry a couple of minutes or until the aroma if released.
Add salt and honey, stirring to blend. Add the cooked carrots and
saute, turning gently until they are well coated with the honey mixture
and heated through. Serve hot, spooning any remaining honey butter
over the carrots.
Pressure regulator- Controls and maintains pressure inside
the cooker and indicates when the ideal cooking pressure is
Vent Pipe- The pressure regulator fits on the vent pipe and
allows excess pressure to be released.
Air Vent/Cover Lock- the vent automatically exhausts air and
serves as a visual indicator of pressure within the cooker. When
pressure begins to build, it slides up, causing the Lockpin to lock
the cover.
Sealing Ring- Forms a pressure-tight seal between the cover
and pressure cooker body during cooking.
Over-Pressure Plug- This plug automatically releases pressure as a safety measure should the vent pipe become clogged
and pressure cannot be released normally.
Cooking Rack- This rack holds food out of the cooking liquid
and allows several different foods to be cooked at the same time
without an intermingling of flavors. When a blending of flavors is
desired the rack is not used.
Cover handle- The top of the air vent/cover lock can be seen
through a hole in the cover handle, enabling one to see the
glance if there is pressure inside the unit.
Store your pressure cooker in a dry place with the cover inverted on the body. If the cover is locked in place during storage, unpleasant odors may form inside the unit and the sealing
ring could become damaged.
Safety Checklist:
Three Minute Veggie Plate
 Follow manufactures instructions. If instruction manual is
missing these can often be found on-line.
 Check the vent pipe before use. Hold the lid up to the
light and visually inspect to be sure the hole is open.
Check the air vent/cover lock to be sure it moves freely
before use.
Follow recommendations for filling the cooker. Most
models suggest no more than 2/3 full. When cooking
soup, grains, dried beans and other foods that expand do
not fill the cooker over ½ full.
Never open the pressure cooker until the unit has cooled
and all the internal pressure has been released.
Close supervision should be exercised when operating a
pressure cooker near children.
Check sealing ring and overpressure plug and replace if
hard, deformed, cracked or worn.
Replace parts as needed, occasionally, a handle will
break or a pressure regulator will be lost. If this happens,
these and other pressure cooker parts can be purchased
from the manufacturer or from a retailer that carries parts
for your specific pressure cooker. Remember, pressure
cooker parts are not interchangeable. Use only the parts
made for your cooker. Refer to your manufacturer’s instruction manual. Often replacement parts can be found
A few foods to avoid. Foods such as applesauce, cranberries, rhubarb, cereals, pastas, and dried soup mixes
are not recommended for the pressure cooker. These
foods expand so much as a result of foaming and frothing
that they should not be cooked under pressure.
Many times accidents happened due to improper use and
maintenance of pressure cooker or operator neglect.
Use pressure cookers only as manufacture recommends.
Cooking Under Pressure by Carol W. Turner, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.
NMSU, Extension Food & Nutrition Specialist
Cooking Under Pressure by Eugenia Wilson and Nellie Buchanan
Cooperative Extension Service, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Lexington
KY, 2012
1 cup Water
1 large Cauliflower, broken into large flowerets
1 lb Green Beans, cut in halves
8 Carrots, medium, quartered and cut lengthwise
1 large Bunch Broccoli, stems cut in quarters
1 1/2 tsp Salt
6 Tbsp Browned Butter
1. Put water in cooker with rack.
2. Place vegetables on rack. Season with salt.
3. Cover, set control at 15 PSI and cook 3-4 minutes after control jiggles. Reduce pressure
4. Arrange vegetables on large serving plate. Serve with hot
browned butter. Serves 8.
Barbecued Spare Ribs
3 pounds spareribs, cut into serving pieces
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 cup catsup
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 1/2 cups water
Season ribs with salt, pepper, and paprika. Pour vegetable oil
into Presto® pressure cooker. Turn heat selector to medium
and brown ribs. Add onion. Combine catsup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, celery seed, and water. If desired,
stir in 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke. Pour over meat in cooker.
Close cover securely. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe
and cook 15 minutes at 15 pounds pressure, with regulator
rocking slowly. Let pressure drop of its own accord.
Makes 6 servings
Never overfill the pressure cooker
Precise timing is important
Replace pressure cooker parts regularly
Chicken Paprika
Three Methods of
Releasing Pressure
2 1/2 - 3 lbs. chicken
Cold water release method – This is the fastest method to stop
the cooking process by lowering the temperature and the pressure. The pressure cooker is carried to the sink and tilted at a
slight angle to allow cold water to run over the outer edge of the
lid so that it runs down the side of the pot and across the top of
the lid, but not directly over the vent or valve. If your faucet is too
short to allow water to run over the top of the cooker, then use
the sprayer attachment, or set the pressure cooker in the sink
fulled with a couple of inches of water until the pressure drops.
2 tsp Salt
Quick release method – The quick release mechanism is found
on modern pressure cookers, and while not as fast as the cold
water release, this special valve rapidly releases pressure with
just the turn of a knob or the push of a button. The quick release
is used to drop the pressure without lowering the temperature of
the food.
2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
Natural release method – This is the slowest, and the most often
used method of releasing pressure. The pressure cooker is removed from the heat source and the pressure is allowed to subside naturally. This gradual drop in pressure and temperature
allows the food to finish cooking through the slow cool-down process.
1/4 tsp Pepper
2 tsp Paprika
6Tbsp Flour
1/4 cup Fat
4 cups Water
2 cups Sour Cream
1. Cut chicken into individual servings.
2. Mix salt, pepper, paprika and flour, coat chicken.
3. Brown in hot fat in cooker. Place on rack.
4. Slowly add water and bouillon cube.
5. Cover, set control to 15PSI and cook 15 minutes after control
6. Cool cooker normally for 5 minutes, then place under faucet.
7. Stir in sour cream; heat thorough. Serves 8 to 10.
Chicken Cacciatore
1 (3-pound) chicken, cut up
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1/4 cup diced salt pork
1 1/2 cups sliced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano OR 1 teaspoon dry
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 (1-pound) can Italian tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup white wine - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
-1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
Coat chicken in mixture of flour, salt, and pepper; set aside. Put
oil in a 4- or 6-quart Presto® pressure cooker. Sauté pork until
crisp. Add onions and sauté until light brown; remove and set
aside. Brown chicken a few pieces at a time; set aside. Pour off
excess drippings; stir garlic, parsley, and oregano into remaining drippings. Return chicken and onion to pressure cooker.
Add carrots, celery, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and white wine.
Close pressure cooker cover securely. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe. Cook for 8 minutes, at 15 pounds pressure,
with regulator rocking slowly. Cool pressure cooker at once.
Place chicken on warm platter. Stir tomato paste into sauce in
pressure cooker. Simmer until thickened. Pour over chicken.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Whole Meal Magic!
One of the handiest advantages of pressure cooking is being
able to prepare an entire meal at one time, in only one pot! By
using the cooking rack to keep certain foods out of the cooking
liquid, each food - whether it's an entree, side dish or dessert retains its own individual, delicious flavor.
Ideally, you should select foods which require the same cooking time when planning a pressure cooker meal-in-one. The
size of the food pieces, of course, will affect the cooking time.
For instance, 1/2 inch slices of potato cook in 3 minutes, while
3/4 inch slices take 5 minutes. So, you can adjust cooking
times by cutting your foods into larger or smaller pieces.
If the foods you select for your meal-in-one require widely different cooking times, you can easily make adjustments. For
example, when your menu features barbecued chicken (8
minutes) with corn-on-the-cob (2 minutes) and green beans (2
minutes), follow this common sense cooking schedule:
1. Place chicken in pressure cooker with desired amount of
cooking liquid. Close cover securely. Bring cooker to pressure
and cook for 6 minutes.
2. Quick cool the pressure cooker under cold water until pressure is completely reduced. Remove the pressure regulator
and then the cover. Place corn and green beans on cooking
rack in pressure cooker.
3. Close cover securely. Bring pressure cooker back to pressure and cook 2 minutes more.
4. Quick cool the pressure cooker until pressure is completely
reduced, remove the cover and "presto!" Dinner is served!
You can adapt this easy cooking method for dozens of delicious meals-in-one with your pressure cooker. It's almost like
Swiss Steak
1 ½ to 2 pounds round steak
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon each, salt and black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
½ cup red wine (or beef broth)
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with juice
1 (3-ounce) can tomato paste
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
Cut the steak into serving portions. In a plastic bag, mix the
flour, salt, and pepper, and add the meat, shaking gently until
coated. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium heat.
Add the meat and cook until browned on both sides. Set aside.
Add the onions to the cooker and cook, stirring, for about 3
minutes. Deglaze the cooker with the wine (or broth), scraping
up all those crusty, brown bits from the bottom. Add the remaining ingredients, except cornstarch. Stir well. Return the
meat to the cooker and lock the lid in place. Bring to 15 psi over
high heat. Immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible
setting to stabilize and maintain that pressure, and cook for 18
minutes. Remove from the heat and use the natural release
method to depressurize. Carefully open the lid after the pressure drops. Remove the meat to a serving platter; cover and
keep warm. Thicken the sauce by making a slurry with the
cornstarch mixed with 1/3 cup cold water; stir the slurry into the
broth and simmer gently over medium heat, stirring often as it
thickens, but do not boil. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Pour
the gravy into a separate serving bowl. Serve over mashed
potatoes or pasta noodles. Serves 4.
Beef Pot Roast
4 lbs. Beef Pot Roast 2-3 in. thick
2 Tbsp Fat or oil
1 Tbsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
4 Onions, medium, sliced
2 1/2 cups Water
1. Brown beef in fat in cooker.
2. Season with salt and pepper. Add onions and water.
3. Cover, set control at 15 PSI and cook 45-60 minutes after
control jiggles.
4. Cool cooker normally for 5 minutes, then place under faucet.
2 cups Broth (liquid from cooked meat)
1/4 cup Flour
1/2 cup Cold Water
1. Skim excess fat from broth. Add enough water to broth, if
necessary, to measure 2 cups.
2. Mix flour and water until smooth. Gradually stir into broth.
3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until gravy is
smooth and thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Serves 6 to 8.
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