Cooking in a pressure cooker involves using water or some form of cooking fluid that is sealed tight to increase the pressure inside. The biggest advantage of a pressure cooker is that it reduces the time required to cook.
A pressure cooker is able to hasten the cooking process by building up the internal steam pressure. This pressure creates wet steam or saturated steam that permeates through food and bombards the particles raising the atomic temperature and transferring heat much faster than dry air or metal. This helps in cooking faster.
Pressure cookers can be classified based on their generation or their origin or based on the features they have.
Pressure Cookers – Generation
As per generation, there are three types of pressure cookers namely, first generation, second and third generation.
- First Generation – This kind of pressure cooker is called the old type. It operates using a weight-modified valve that suddenly releases pressure. They sound a whistle when releasing pressure and are loud because of the valve. The operation is actually similar to that of a steam engine’s piston. Typically, these first generation pressure cookers offer a single pressure level. A few new models based on this design though let users modify the weight of the valve and hence change the pressures.
- Second Generation – These are called as latest gen pressure cookers and they use spring loaded valves that stay hidden from view. They use a proprietary mechanism that lets users choose between multiple pressure options. A few of these pressure cookers actually do not release steam during the operation instead using an indicator to show how far the pressure level has reached. Such cookers release the steam when you open the pan or because you left it on the stove for too long. Another design relies on a dial that helps adjust the pressure by moving it around. This vents the pressure the moment you move the dial.
- Electric Cookers – These are also called as third gen pressure cookers. They come with an electric source in the base that regulates the pressure and temperature feeding off a power line. These electric cookers too rely on a spring loaded valve and they provide dual pressure settings along with timer option and the ability to keep food warm. Unfortunately, such type of pressure cookers cannot be wetted by cold water to release the lid quickly. Moreover, you need to use caution when working with them as they release steam using tiny valves.
Pressure Cookers – Features
Pressure cookers today can do many things or they may belong to the first generation, capable of only handling a singular pressure setting with nothing much else. Accordingly there are two types of pressure cookers.
- Single Purpose Pressure Cookers – These pressure cookers are designed to handle a single pressure setting and naturally can be used to do any kind of dish but you really cannot control the outcome. They may be electric by design or even valve based stovetops. In fact, many canning pressure cookers are single purpose designs with hardly any extra features. New age cookers though come with pressure indicators or gauges to let you know when things aren’t going as per the plan.
- Multi-Purpose Pressure Cookers – Such pressure cookers are designed to multitask. They can not only cook but also steam and sear. These cookers come with multiple inserts, many options and different temperature and pressure settings. Multi-purpose pressure cookers usually have an option to convert them into slow cookers or rice cookers. In fact, these are probably good investments only if you are thinking of multitasking.