Pressure cookers are often the star appliances of cooking show competitions. With only one hour left on the clock, the battered competitors cook them to cook food that usually lasts all afternoon. Although it may seem magical, there is a science behind how it works.
I think of pressure cookers as a slow cooker on jet fuel. They produce tender, juicy meat and tasty broths like their counterparts, but faster. I cooked dried pinto beans in my pressure cooker in 45 minutes. Compare that with the 4 hours they need to cook on the stove, and the 8 hours (or longer!) They need to cook in my slow cooker, and you see what a time saver is.
Let's explore the different types of pressure cookers, and of course, how they work.
Types of Pressure Cookers
Although there are many different types of pressure cookers ̵
Electronic versions generate heat from hotplates while the stove models receive heat from the oven. Electric pressure cookers also have automatic pressure sensors, while the hob versions have gauges.
Here are some modern, electric versions:
Why pressure cookers are so damn fast
Now we've made it to science. In a pot of boiling water, the water temperature can only reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) and not hotter. This is because the water becomes steam at 212 degrees and is released into the air.
The steam is trapped in a pressure cooker, producing 10 to 15 pounds of pressure per square inch. This causes the water to remain in liquid form above the boiling point of 212 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (100 to 121 degrees Celsius). The high pressure also forces water into the food, which makes it juicier.
The high temperatures make the food cook very fast. For every 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) that the temperature rises above boiling, the cooking time is halved. For you, this means that dinner is faster than ever.
Ready to take the plunge and get one? Take a look at our complete overview of pressure cookers and instant pots to learn more and select the right model for you.
Worried about the safety of pressure cookers?.