Last updated: January 06. 2014 1:41PM - 1843 Views
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At the end of a busy day, many of us would love to quickly produce a tasty, nutritious, home-cooked meal with minimal effort. One way you can achieve this is by utilizing an electric pressure cooker.

Has it been a long time since you used that pressure cooker in the cabinet? Some of you may be hesitant about using a pressure cooker, either because you’re not familiar with them or have heard horror stories from your mother or grandmother about pressure cookers exploding and the cooker and its contents flying across the room. As long as you correctly follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions for the cooker, you can cook most foods very safely. Today’s pressure cookers include more safety release valves and interlocking lids, which makes them safer than older models. Electric pressure cookers have their own heat sources that are automatically regulated to maintain the desired pressure.

In an electric pressure cooker, foods cook three to 10 times faster compared to conventional cooking methods because the cooker does not allow air and liquids to escape the container below a pre-set pressure. As the pressure builds, the temperature inside the cooker rises above the normal boiling point.

This not only helps the food cook quickly, but it helps food retain nutrients and requires less water to prepare items. It also results in less energy used to prepare foods. You can cook multiple foods at the same time, which saves in dirty dishes and time.

In addition to following the manufacturer’s directions, never fill a pressure cooker more than two-thirds full or more than halfway full for soups or stews. Realize that the hotter a food or liquid is going into the cooker, the quicker it will cook. Brown meat or poultry before putting them into the pressure cooker for best results.

Generally, foods that expand as a result of foaming and frothing, such as applesauce, cranberries, rhubarb, cereals, pastas, split peas and dried soup mixes, should not be cooked in a pressure cooker.

Cleaning methods will vary depending upon the type of pressure cooker you have. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning.

Store pressure cookers in a cool, dry place with the lid inverted on the body. Failing to do so can result in unpleasant odors and cause wear and tear on the lid’s seal.

Remember you should not try to use a pressure cooker as a pressure canner to preserve food. The quick come-up and cool-down times may not be long enough to kill all harmful microorganisms, which can cause foodborne illnesses from eating the canned foods.

Before pressure cooking, check the recipe and instructions and follow guidelines for pressure cooking. Pour required amount of liquid in the pressure cooker, add food. Use cooking rack if desired. Inspect the vent pipe. Place lid on base of cooker, generally to the right of the handle and twist back to the left to close. Place pressure regulator (weight) on vent pipe. Heat the cooker to pressure using a high setting on the range. Cooking time will begin when a slow, steady rock of the pressure regulator begins. Reduce the heat setting to maintain pressure. Cook for the recommended time. To quick cool a manual cooker, place cooker under the faucet with cold running water until the pressure is completely reduced. Pressure is completely reduced when the air vent/cover lock has dropped. Remove the pressure regulator. Serve the tasty food and enjoy!

Try these recipes:


(Note: Use this recipe only in a 6-quart to 8-quart pressure cooker)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3-4 pound turkey breast

1 ½ cups water

1 onion, chopped

½ cup chopped celery

½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

Pour oil in cooker. On medium heat brown the turkey on all sides. Add remaining ingredients. Close cover securely. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe and cook 35 minutes with pressure regularly rocking slowly. Allow pressure to drop on its’ own. Thicken gravy, if desires.

Nutrition Information per serving: 197 calories; 8 g Fat; 76 mg Cholesterol

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


3 pound pork roast

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups water

Salt and pepper

1 onion, sliced

Pour vegetable oil into cooker. On medium heat brown roast well on all sides. Remove roast from cooker. Pour water into cooker. Place roast on rack in cooker. Season roast with salt, pepper, and sliced onion. Close cover securely. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe and cook 55 minutes with pressure regulator rocking slowly. Allow pressure to drop on its’ own.

Nutritional Information per serving: 483 calories; 27 g Fat; 171 mg Cholesterol

Yield: 6 servings

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.

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