Despite a surge in popularity and household use in the 1940s and 1950s, pressure cookers acquired a mixed reputation that stuck with them for half a century. Whether through poor design, inferior construction of some inexpensive cookers, or a medley of other reasons, they fell out of favour in Canadian kitchens, disappearing from the mainstream for many decades.
Today’s pressure cookers have come a long way from earlier models, and busy home cooks have started to appreciate their ease of use, energy efficiency and ability to cut cooking times. They’ve undergone a renaissance of sorts, and they’re now a common sight in kitchen shops and department store flyers.
Instead of the low-and-slow technique used by slow cookers to render meat and veggies tender, pressure cookers boost the heat and add pressure, often resulting in drastically shortened cooking times.
In addition to their new, modern safety mechanisms, they now come in a wide range of prices and sizes, making them great for both small and large families.
Here are some of the benefits of using a pressure cooker:
- You can make rich, flavourful turkey stock in half the time traditionally required when using a pot on the stove.
- Stews can be made quickly and easily, with cooking times in the 45-minute range.
- Make a creamy risotto-style dish in 15 minutes with little stirring in comparison to 30 or more minutes of stirring for a traditional risotto.
- Pot roasts and corned beef can be made in half the time or less.
- Cooking time for soups can often dip below 30 minutes.
- If you love grains or beans, using a pressure cooker reduces the cooking time by up to two-thirds compared to traditional simmering in a saucepan.
- Not only do pressure cookers save time, they save energy too.
- Many popular cooking techniques can be adapted to the pressure cooker, including boiling, braising, stewing, steaming and the bain-marie.