Pressure cooker selection guide-Basics of pressure cooking

Pressure cooker selection guide

Pressure cooker selection guide is for anyone who is looking at buying a pressure cooker.  I am detailing on pressure cooker models, type of available pressure cooker, size of the pressure cooker and so on. After reading this post, your decision of buying pressure cooker would be more informed.

What is a pressure cooker?

Pressure cooker is a sealed pot, which has the ability to retain heat/steam.

How does a pressure cooker work?

It is a simple pot in which water in boiled and water turns into steam. Unlike conventional pot, steam of pressure cooker is not allowed to escape. This creates pressure inside the pot. Under the pressure and heat, ingredients inside the cooker, cooks fast.

What are the different models of pressure cooked?

There are two basic type of pressure cooker technology. Outer lid pressure cooker and inner lid pressure cooker model.

What is outer lid model?

Outer lid model is one in which lid of the cooker is outside the cooker base and Gasket (a rubberized ring to lock the pressure) is placed inside the lid. This is the conventional model of pressure cooker and is very popular in southern part of India.

What is Inner lid model?

Inner lid model of pressure cooker is one in Gasket is placed outside the lid and lid slides inside the cooker. This model is becoming popular in all parts of India. From safety aspects, inner lid model scores well. For a beginning aligning lid with cookware can post a bit of trouble to begin with. But it is a matter of time for you to be used to it.

How is safety system in pressure cooker?

Different brands and of pressure cooker follow different safety measures. The common ones are

  1. The weight value – The weight valve is designed in a manner that the moment pressure inside the cooker is more, the valve is automatically lifted to release steam. The valve settles back in its place, only pressure inside the cooker comes down.
  2. Gasket release system – If the weight valve fails to function due to overload or blockage of the vent tube, pressure inside the cooker goes above the normal level and a portion of the gasket is pushed out through the slot in the lid, releasing excess steam downwards.
  3. The metallic safety valve – If there is no water in the cooker to generate steam, the temperature inside the cooker increases. This increase in temperature melts the alloy fused in the “safety valve”, leaving hole. Steam escapes through the hole.
  4. Double locking system – This is present in the outer lid model where by the cooker lid is physically locked with the base with a mechanical setup. This ensures that cooker can be opened only if the steam inside the cooker reaches a safe level.

What is the metal in which cooker is made of?

Popular ones are made of Aluminium or stainless steel. Modern cookers are also made of Hard anodisied aluminium material.

What is the difference between Aluminium cooker and Stainless steel cooker?

Property Aluminum Stainless steel
Price Cheaper than the stainless steel counterpart. Expensive than Aluminum counterpart
Heating Due to nature of metal it provides uniform heating Does not provide uniform heating. Normally it is made with layered with aluminum in between to ensure heating is uniform
Stains Metal stains No stains
Durable Less durable and metal tends to weaken in few years More durable and hence long life
Cooking time Cooks faster Takes few minutes more than Aluminum counterparts
Direct cooking Is suitable for direct cooking. If cooking has to be done fast, you can directly leave the item to be cooked in the cooker without having to use inner lid (Though manufacturer does not recommend direct cooking, it saves lot of time) If you use the cooker directly, food might get burnt. Always you should place the items inside the vessel.
Induction compatibility Not compatible normally. However there are Anodized model available which are compatible with induction cooking. Generally compatible
Health perspective It is widely believed that aluminum would leech and is not healthy Stainless stell will not leech and is a safer option

What should be size of the pressure cooker you should buy?

Pressure cooker comes in many sizes from 1L to 12L are common. Each of the size has its own advantages.

Pressure cooker size is directly related to cooking time. Though there is no harm in getting a bigger cooker, smaller cooker has more utility value if you are looking for quickly cooking vegetables/dals.

Similarly bigger ones, 5L and above, comes with separators (a kind of vessel) which helps you to cook more number of items together. Normally Dal and Rice are cooked at the same time.

Which brand of pressure cooker to buy?

Now there are many brands in the market like Prestige, Hawkins, Pigeon, Butterfly, Vinod and many.  You can refer to the Amazon website which has the user feedback to decide on the buying.

What are the accessories that cooker comes with?

It depends on the manufacturer and the cooker size. Typically cooker size of 5L and above comes with 2 or more separators (vessel) and additional items such as idli cooker, steaming basket etc.

I hope you would have found this useful. Do leave a feedback on your views and facts.

Note: The above answers are based on my personal cooking experience over last 20+ years.  If I need to make any factual correction, do let me know.

Related: Did you read about Clipon pressure cookers. It is quite innovative product from Prestige. Do read the post.

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