What is the best pressure cooker? Trying to come up with one definite answer is almost impossible. Mainly as different pressure cookers are best suited to different users needs.
The decision to use a pressure cooker is sure to ease your cooking process on a daily basis and add new flavours and tastes to your food. But for this decision to work 100% in your favour, you need to choose the best pressure cooker that will fulfil all your specific requirements. A wrong cooker will be only a hindrance in the kitchen.
The first step to figuring out what pressure cooker suits your needs, is to find out what your cooking/kitchen needs really are. Once you know what you are looking for, it will become relatively easier to find and select the right product that fulfils your demands. Here’s a list of ‘needs’ that you might consider satisfying before you finalise on or buy your own best pressure cooker.
Best Pressure Cooker Features – Family Size:
Pressure cookers come in small sizes (a 4-quart), in multiple sets (8-quart + 4-quart pots) and in large sizes (30-quart cooker and canner). You best strategy for choosing between these options, is simply to consider your family size and the number of people for whom food is cooked on a daily basis.
If you only prepare food for 2-3 people daily, then a simple 4 quart pressure cooker with no frills might meet your needs just fine. In case you are cooking for 4-6 people you often play host or cook several dishes for a single meal, then the multi-set / combi pressure cookers are the ones you should be looking at. These multi – sets usually come with two different sized cookers pots (usually 8 quart and 4 quart) with a pressure lid, an interchangeable glass lid and a steamer basket with trivet. Thanks to the glass lid the 4 quart can be used as a sauce pan, while multiple ingredients can be steamed in the 8 quart. This simultaneous cooking reduces time spent in the kitchen, and also helps reduce gas/electricity bills as you can cook a large quantity of food in a shorter period of time.
The canners + cookers should probably only be purchased if you are looking to store food items regularly. These cookers + canners are large in size and as a result heavier to handle and maintain. They are not meant for the regular sized family and are not usually the best fit for amateurs. Chefs and cooks who are used to cooking with pressure cookers are probably better suited for these large sized cookers / canners.
Having said all that, my own advice would be to go for a slightly larger pressure cooker than the one you think you need. Not all pressure cookers allow you to fill them all the way up and you can always cook a smaller amount in a bigger pot than the other way around. If you do end up with leftovers, you can usually freeze them and save yourself the cooking at a later time.
Best Pressure Cooker Features – Functionality:
Consider what features you need when cooking a meal, before making a decision.
For one, the pressure setting options must be thought over. Usually, recipes require a high pressure setting of 15 psi and a low one of 8psi. If the cooker provides both these settings, then it is an ideal choice. In case it offers only one, then make sure that it offers the high pressure setting of 15psi. Most recipes cook at 15psi, so not having a low setting will not hamper your cooking in anyway.
Pressure cookers of some brands, like WMF, have a high pressure setting of 13psi. This means that the dish takes longer to cook as the pressure is lower than what is desired. You should therefore ensure what ‘high’ stands for and purchase accordingly.
Secondly, it is wise to check what additional products come with the cooker. Usually a steamer basket and a trivet are included as part of the package. The steamer basket and trivet work as good add-ons and help cook multiple ingredients at the same time. Also, cooking food in the basket ensures that highly acidic food items do not chemically react with the material of the surface of the cooker. While these add-ons are good, they are not out and out necessary. If the cooker is not going to be used often or if the number of people to be cooked for is less, then a steamer basket and a trivet prove quite unnecessary. It is really imperative to keep your own specific needs in mind when selecting the best pressure cooker.
Always ensure that the cooker has enough safety valves, a weighted/modified weighted/spring valve (which indicates the pressure being built and reached in the closed pot) that is in perfect working condition and a reliable automated steam releasing system. A gasket (the rubber wire placed on the inner side of the pressure lid) that can be easily cleaned and does not wear & tear soon is a basic and important requirement
Best Pressure Cooker Features – The Use:
How frequently or rarely you intend to use a cooker will help you decide on the material that’s best suited for your pressure cooker. The stainless steel pressure cookers are more durable, easy to clean, look better and are scratch, warp and corrosion resistant. However, these cost more. On the other hand, the aluminium ones conduct heat better and are comparatively cheap but they get corroded and dented easily.
If you ask the experts, and that’s our view as well, the best pressure cookers are the stainless steel cookers with a steel – aluminium – steel base. This way, the body is of the best material and the aluminium sandwich base helps in conducting heat uniformly thus helping cook food faster and thoroughly. These pressure cookers will last longer, perform to the best of their ability for years on end and are not high maintenance.
One of the best ways to choose a product is to read consumer reviews. More often than not, these paint a true and actual picture about how the product functions, whether it is value for money and what are its pros and cons. We urge all pressure cooker buyers to not make a final purchase before drawing a picture on the basis of consumer reviews. If it is favourable, and meets your needs, then this might be the pressure cooker for you. If not, then it is best to look at other options.
Prices for pressure cookers vary depending on the brand, size and type. The multi-set cookers generally cost just over $100, and the single 4-quart cookers come for around $50. Pressure cookers are an expensive investment, but the very best ones deliver for a minimum period of 10 years. Hence, it is advisable to pay for what you need.
It is often worth investing in the best pressure cooker you can afford, to make sure you don’t have to replace it often. If money is a big issue, opting for the mid-range ones is a smart choice as they are high on features and safety and the cost is balanced by their flexible and year on year use.
Once you find your best answers to all these needs and issues, it will be easy to select what is your best pressure cooker.
Get clear on what you need and want, and start cooking.