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You can thank the French (notorious for their love of food) for the invention of the pressure cooker. In 1679, French physician Denis Papin invented this pressurized method of cooking utilizing his understanding of physics. It was known that water boils in an open pan at around 212 degrees, whereas, if pressure is added, the boiling point can be raised to 250 degrees. The end result is a much faster cooking method- almost 70% faster.

Much of our advancements in cooking comes as a result of necessity during times of war to either conserve energy or money.  Pressure cookers became popular during World War II as a means of conserving energy. With cooking times sped up by almost 70 percent this meant almost two-thirds less energy. Less energy= more dollars. This method of cooking also save dollars as you can use less expensive cuts of meat and cook in bulk cheaper items such as beans & rice.

However, don’t feel that you have to compromise in the taste department. Pressure cooking is comparable to roasting, which brings out more intense flavors. Dry beans and grains are much more appealing than their mushy, heavily salted, canned counterparts, and a pressure cooker lets you prepare them just as quickly.

 After hearing all these positives why wouldn’t you use a pressure cooker? Your end product is cheaper, more nutritious, and moister all in an hour’s time.

Tips to get you started

Be sure  to follow the recipe and pressure cooking timing charts as well as the release methods when cooking, The timing,  amount of fluids, and proportions of ingredients need to be followed exactly for the end product to turn out. When it comes to fluids, a pressure cooker requires a minimum amount in order to generate the steam necessary to facilitate cooking.  Generally a ½ cup of fluid is often the minimum amount required. This amount depends on two factors:

  • The total cooking time
  • The cooking method

Longer cooking times (longer than 15 minutes) will often require a greater amount of liquids.

Pressure Cooker Cooking Times

Low pressure is used for most vegetables, fruits and custards. Medium pressure is ideal for denser vegetables and fruits and for fish and poultry. High pressure is recommended for beans, rice and pasta; dried veggies, fruit and mushrooms; and tough cuts of meat or wild game.

Here are some sample cooking times:
Potatoes: 5 minutes
Winter squash: 5 minutes
Artichokes: 10 minutes
Brown rice: 15 minutes
Stew meat: 15 minutes
Dry beans: 15 to 25 minutes

A great blog to follow, http://theveggiequeen.com/pressure-cooking-basics/, is a fellow dietitian that utilizes pressure cooking as a way to get her clients to maximize their fruit & vegetable intake. Time is precious why not throw together a complete meal in under an hour? Enjoy!

Pressure Cooker Pot Roast 

(Courtesy of Allrecipes)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 (3 pound) beef chuck roast

1 large onion, diced

1 (1 ounce) package dry Italian salad dressing mix

1 (1 ounce) package dry Ranch-style dressing mix

1 (1.2 ounce) package brown gravy mix

1 (14.5 ounce) can beef broth

Directions:

1.Heat oil in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat with the lid open. Brown the roast on all sides in the hot oil.

2.In a small cup or bowl, mix together the Italian salad dressing mix, Ranch dressing mix, and gravy mix. Sprinkle them evenly over the roast. Pour in the beef broth and add the chopped onion.

3.Seal and lock pressure cooker, and cook over high heat to build pressure until the indicator sounds (mine whistles). Turn heat down to medium, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Run under cold water to help release the pressure before unsealing the lid. You can use the juices as an au jus, or thicken with flour or cornstarch to make a yummy gravy.

Nutrition Information:

Servings per Recipe: 6

Calories: 447

Total Fat: 30.8g

Cholesterol: 103mg

Sodium: 1644mg

Total Carbs: 10.6g

Dietary Fiber: 0.5g

Protein: 28.1g