At Hale Pule, we eat legumes every day as part of our fresh, balanced vegetarian meals. That’s why a pressure cooker is one of our most essential kitchen tools.
People often feel intimidated by pressure cookers, but they are actually very simple to use. With some practice, they will quickly become a great asset to every Ayurvedic cook as they bring the cooking time for legumes down from hours to minutes. Pressure cookers are also great for cooking grains, especially long-cooking ones, such as barley or buckwheat. A delicious breakfast porridge of buckwheat and brown rice cooks up in just 18 minutes in a pressure cooker – a grounding way to start a busy day.
The pressure cookers on the market today are much safer and easier to operate than they used to be. So if you’ve used a pressure cooker in the past and have reservations about safety, it’s time to reconsider.
Here are a few things to consider when looking for a pressure cooker:
1. Find the right size for you. If you cook for just yourself, there are small pressure cookers that cook very efficiently. If you cook for others, get a bigger size. And remember that you shouldn’t fill the pressure cooker more than halfway so it can have space to build pressure inside.
2. Look for quality. There are plenty of pressure cookers on the market, but look for those made by a trusted brand using quality materials, like stainless steel and tightly fitting gaskets. We have found that Fagor models are reliable and reasonably priced.
3. Practice. The first few times you use your pressure cooker you will have to experiment with cooking times. This can be affected by many factors, such as the altitude you live at, the type of cooktop or how much food you are putting in the pressure cooker. If you undercook your food, it’s easy to reseal the cooker and bring it back to pressure for a few more minutes.
4. Use your senses to guide you. When the cooker comes to pressure, it will begin to release steam (either through a rocking mechanism or a whistle, depending on your model). Turn the heat down low enough to keep the steam coming at a regular pace without losing pressure.
5. Thoroughly clean your pressure cooker after each use. Be sure to remove all food particles from the gasket and the rubber stopper to ensure proper functioning of your cooker. Good care will keep your pressure cooker working for many years.
With a little practice and experimentation, you’ll soon be reaching for your pressure cooker for every meal.