In pursuit of the most fuel efficient cooking methods, many years ago, I learned about pressure cookers (aka olla express). They are most used in Europe, Asia, South America and India. They stopped being popular here because, after WWII, some greedy American manufacturers made poorly designed (dangerous) pressure cookers. Americans have been reluctant to try the new and safe pressure cookers. You can find a good article on the history of pressure cookers here. How to use a pressure cooker by Chefarlyn gives an excellent tour of the safety features of modern pressure cookers. By knowing what the safety features are you can identity a safe pressure cooker at the thrift store.
A pressure cooker reduces stove top cooking time by up to 70 percent! I paid $80 for my Fagor Splendid 6-Liter Pressure Cooker over a decade ago. Today I found it on sale at Amazon for $60! I also found great reviews for the Presto 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker which on sale for $65. Pressure cookers are a worthy investment. If I were to buy a pressure cooker today, I would buy a Presto because it is American made and it is a quality product.
I enjoyed using my Fagor, but became frustrated when the rubber gasket became brittle and shrunk within a year of weekly use. The instruction manual warned me that there is an enzyme in beans that would cause the rubber gasket to shrink and become brittle. It didn’t say how quickly this would happen so I continued to cook beans in it weekly.
Back then a new rubber gasket cost $6. I thought it was ridiculous to have a gasket wear out so fast so I learned how to bake with a gasket-less pressure cooker until the manufactures got their act together.
Yesterday, I bought a silicone gasket for $10. Silicone is supposed to last longer than rubber. You can read more about gaskets at Miss Vickie’s Pressure Cooking site. I do not know how much longer silicone will out last rubber. Silicone is so resilient I am confident I will get my $10 worth out of it at the very least. I will update this post with my results.
It is NOT safe to can low-acid foods in anything but a pressure canner. It is safe to can high-acid foods in a solar oven and a pressure cooker. Here are instructions on pressure canning. Here are directions for canning high-acid foods in a pressure cooker. Be sure to read pressure canner verses pressure cooker by Miss Vickie to understand the difference.
Dr. Winiarski, the inventor of the rocket stove, recommends a pot skirt in order to direct the heat up the sides of the cook pot before letting the heat escape. Placing a rocket stove inside of a large popcorn tin is an easy solution. The sides are tall enough to BE the pot skirt.
In my current rocket stove project, I found a large popcorn for $2 at the thrift store. It is 9.75″D x 11″H which is the perfect size for my pressure cooker’s pot skirt. Photos of pressure cooking on a rocket stove with a pot skirt will be in a future post.
For now just visualize the tin can rocket stove placed inside of a popcorn tin. The popcorn tin has a hole on its side for the fuel magazine. The pressure cooker will set on top of the rocket stove. The sides of the popcorn tin will force the hot air to scrape the sides of the pressure cooker. This cozy arrangement will add additional heat that will increase the fuel efficiency of this already fuel-efficient design.
After your research on which pressure cooker is the best quality, I suggest you search YouTube for its many uses before you make your purchase. They can be used for more than what the manufacturer suggests. Some cookers design will have more versatility than others. For example, if you want to make moonshine, I noticed that the center steam release valve is necessary because it is a separate piece. My Fagor has the steam vent integrated into the handle so it is not as easy to modify for alternate uses. Fortunately, I am not interested making moonshine.
My son recommends the Kuhn Rikon because he prefers the steam release valve in the center. He likes the how dramatic the steam is released. My Fagor releases steam from a vent on the handle which is not as wild looking. Here is a demonstration.
The first experiment to cook under pressure was done by French physicist named Denis Papin in 1679. Some food toxins can be reduced by pressure cooking such as aflatoxins. Aflatoxicins are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are produced by many species of Aspergillus, a fungus. This information and more is in the History and description of pressure cooking by Wikipedia
http://www.wisementrading.com/cooking/pressurecookers.htm – Ohsawa cooking pots – The perfect accessory for your pressure cooker
Our library has these:
Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes (2008)
The Pressured Cook by Lorna Sass (1999)
Baking in a pressure cooker is not a time saver. It is just a nice option to have if using an oven is not convenient or available. This is another reason why sailors and folks in RVs find them very useful. Here are a few recipe videos to show off the versatility of a pressure cooker. We plan to make these on the rocket stove.
Energy Efficiency Pressure Cooker Chili Shootout was made with a lot of creative flair. She has a channel full of pressure cooker recipes.
Cooking Lealea-Lamb Curry is a made on a sailing ship. This couple are just plain fun to watch.
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Anyone who has never made a mistake
has never tried anything new.