Start with the Manual
Not all pressure cookers are the same. Although this guide will work for most pressure cookers you should still read the manufacturer’s user manual that came with your pressure cooker. This will ensure that you are getting specific directions for you device. If you have lost your user’s manual then you can usually find a replacement online or by contacting the manufacturer directly. Here are some basic steps that will work with most pressure cookers in the event that you cannot get the user’s manual.
Before you Start
The first thing you need to do is to thoroughly inspect and clean your pressure cooker. You should make sure there are no dried food particles inside the device or around the lid, as this could stop you from getting the proper seal. You should also inspect the gasket to be sure there are no cracks, tears or other signs of deterioration. You should also make sure that all vent valves are free of debris and that the handles are tightly connected.
Filling Your Pressure Cooker
Pressure cookers work by heating water and other liquids to super hot temperatures that allow you to cook meats and other large food items much more quickly. The amount of liquid you put in your pressure cooker will depend on what type it is, but most of the time you never want to add more than a cup of water or other liquids to your pressure cooker. This amount is usually enough for twenty minutes of cooking, but you should test you’re your particular device if you are unsure. You should never fill your pressure cooker more than two thirds of the way to the top and if you are cooking foods that might froth or foam, you should never fill it more than halfway.
After you have filled your pressure cooker you need to build up the pressure. You must first close and lock the lid on top of the device. Be sure that it is in the locked position or you will not be able to get the necessary pressure. Then just put the pressure cooker over high heat and wait. Once the valve at the top starts to jiggle (about 3 to 5 times per minute). If you have a pressure cooker with a valve stem, then you should heat the cooker until it reaches 15 psi, which is the standard cooking pressure for most recipes. Once you have built the proper amount of pressure you can lower the temperature to a level that will maintain it.
Cooking, Timing and Watching
You should not leave your pressure cooker unattended, as you may have to periodically adjust the temperature to maintain the correct amount of pressure. Every food item cooks differently in a pressure cooker, so be sure to consult your recipe for the exact cooking times of the food you are cooking. You should be sure to use a timer so that you do not overcook your items, as this can happen quickly if you are not careful.
How to Release the Pressure
Your pressure cooker lid will not come off until all of the pressure is released. The method you use to release the pressure will depend on the type of food you are cooking, as some factor this into the cooking time. You can use the natural method, which takes the longest, as the pressure is gradually released on its own. You can speed things up by running the cooker under cold water or simply taking off the valve.
Now that you know how to use a pressure cooker it is time to get out there and start cooking!