Dear Home Ec 101,
I am coverting to Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and several books suggest using a pressure cooker as a good tool in the kitchen. My questions are:
1. Are the European models better than the American ones? That was suggested in one book.
2. Are they safe now? My grandmother never had an accident with one. When I was a kid, I do remember seeing a lady covered in burns from a pressure cooker accident and I have been quietly terrified of them since.
3. Are pressure cookers only good for beans? What other use would they have in the kitchen? I don’t mind investing in a good one if it is not a uni-tasker.
Veggie in Virginia
This is a great question for the Home Ec 101 community, as I’m still learning. As an aside, I have been using my pressure cooker a lot lately. I have somehow fallen out of the habit of remembering to soak my beans, but I can make up for that lost time by firing up the pressure cooker.
As I am still relatively new to pressure cooking, I’ll leave style suggestions open to the readers.
I want to remind everyone that the number one cause of accidents in the kitchen is carelessness and complacency. I’ll do a whole post on this in the near future, but specifically concerning pressure cookers there are a few things you must do before each use. These are not optional. You must check any vents for blockages, ensure the safety valve moves freely, and you must check the condition of the seal. If the seal is pliable, the valve can move, and the vent is clear there is no reason for the pressure cooker to malfunction -provided you follow the instructions and do not overfill or cook very foamy foods. It is always worth the thirty seconds or so it takes to peek through the vent and check the seal. Always. Got it?
Pressure cookers are good for far more than beans. I’m ordering Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna J. Sass to review and for my own educational purposes.
After receiving your question I began to search and it seems as though people use their pressure cookers for many more vegetarian friendly items than just beans. Grains, including rice, and other vegetables seem to be popular choices. Unless I shell out for smaller pressure cooker, I’m not sure that I will be lugging it out just to do some green beans, but know that it is an option.
Be aware if you have an electric stove that you may want to move the pressure cooker from one burner to another if the recipe calls for a fast reduction in heat. (Switching from high to low, for example). Electric burners, especially on smooth top stoves -lift don’t slide- retain heat and don’t respond as quickly as a gas flame.
Ok Home Eccers, share your best vegetarian friendly pressure cooker resources.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.