Pressure cooking can save you time, energy and money, making the possibility of a gourmet meal in minutes a reality. But how do you know if you’re choosing a pressure cooker that’s right for you?
For most home uses, a standard-sized, 6- to 8-quart pressure cooker is suitable. That’s big enough to serve dinner for four to six, with leftovers. You’ll probably want to choose heavy-gauge stainless steel rather than aluminum, because aluminum can interact with some foods and create off-flavors. It’s also helpful to choose a model with a handle opposite the main handle for easier lifting.
Modern pressure cookers are much safer than the first-generation models of the 1930s and ’40s, which lacked safety features and had many complicated parts, which makes choosing a pressure cooker that was manufactured recently a good idea. Modern versions include a safety valve that releases excess steam, preventing accidents, as well as a locking feature that won’t let you remove the lid until the pressure is reduced. In addition, the new models seal in steam better, so less liquid is required. Read the manufacturer’s manual and familiarize yourself with your pressure cooker’s main features before firing it up.
A new pressure cooker can be a significant investment, with stainless steel models ranging from $50 to upward of a few hundred dollars. If you opt for aluminum, prices are around $20 to $50. Electric models are also available for $70 to $150. Whichever model you choose, you’ll save a few hundred dollars per year for 20 years or more. Maybe it’s time to put this tool on your holiday wish list! You can often find used pressure cookers for a steal at yard sales, but you should have them tested for safety. Many county extension offices provide this service. When choosing a pressure cooker, check the manufacturers below for replacement parts as well.
Read more: To learn even more about pressure cookers, read 4 Reasons to Use a Pressure Cooker. Pressure cooking can save you a lot of time in the kitchen; see how much time you'll save in Pressure Cooker Cooking Times.
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