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Tip of the Day: How to Use a Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers are special pots that are designed to speed up the cooking of slow cook dishes. If you ask me, I’d say that the best thing about this pot is that it not only shortens cooking time by up to fifty percent but it also retains the nutrients in the food that it’s cooking. I cook a lot of tough foods like ukwa and fiofio and I can confidently say that my pressure cooker has been a time saver and a gas saver as well. Anyone who has this valuable kitchen equipment will not have to jeopardize her health by using edible potash or worse, paracetamol, because she wants to speed up cooking time. Thus, if you don’t have a pressure cooker, I’d advice you get one. If you do have it but you don’t know the first thing about using it, the following tips will help you:

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Make sure you add enough liquid.

Here are two things you should know about pressure cookers. First, they cook with steam and you can’t have steam unless you have liquid. Second, you can’t open the cooker at intervals while the content is cooking. So,  make sure you add enough liquid before cooking. If you’re not sure that the quantity of liquid added can cook the food, no problem. Time your cooking. When the time comes, turn off the heat and release the steam. Check the liquid content and top up if necessary.

Don’t fill the pot near to the brim

As I mentioned earlier, pressure cookers cook with steam. In order to facilitate cooking, the pots need room for steam to build up. Filling the cooker will cause food to be expelled from it through the pressure release valve. Now, let me assure you that that is one messy assignment that you don’t want on your hands. Therefore, use your discretion or check the pot for minimum and maximum marks. Take note of the marks and do not exceed them.

Time your cooking and don’t spoil the food.

The first food I cooked with pressure cooker was cow tail. It almost turned to pap because I cooked it for too long. Don’t make the same mistake. If you are still familiarizing yourself with your pressure cooker, it’s best to undercook rather than overcook food. The reason is simple. You can always put undercooked food under pressure again and cook till it’s ready. With overcooked food, you may not be able to eat it; this means that both the food and the time taken to prepare it has gone to waste. Therefore, time your cooking, check the food and add more liquid if necessary but please don’t overcook it.

Release the steam before opening the cooker

When the pressure cooker clicks shut and starts cooking, don’t force it open. Shey you dey hear me? If you do, you may get burnt. If you want to check your food, turn off the heat first. Afterwards, you can either allow the steam to go off in its own time or you can turn the pressure release valve so that the hot steam will rush out. Once the pressure has been released, you can open the pot with ease.

Clean the pressure cooker and store it well

Most pressure cookers are not designed for food storage. Therefore, once your food is ready, transfer it to another container to avoid erosion or marking. Read the manual to learn the proper way of cleaning this equipment. Otherwise, wash in sink. Do not immerse pressure cooker lid in water; also, when washing the lid of your pressure cooker, take out the rubber gasket (lid seal) for a proper clean. After washing, rinse and dry the pot. Leave it out on the clean sink to allow air circulate. Afterwards, put it in the cupboard but do not fit the lid on the cooker; instead, let the lid rest upside down on top.

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Finally, don’t ever lose the rubber gasket or the pressure regulator. They are the two most important parts of your pressure cooker. If you lose them, your pressure cooker will lose pressure and become a regular pot. 

Featured image source: Dreamswork Direct

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Obiamaka Angela Udevi

Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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