Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Ode to the pressure cooker
There are specialized pans to have, and specialized pans to not have. The pressure cooker is one to have if you ever cook at all.
Pressure cookers are good for vegetables, grains and dried beans, use much less energy and time to cook and therefore are also good for the environment and for you.
For example, you can "presoak" dried beans in a pressure cooker in five minutes, and then cook the beans (with all the trimmings) for about a half-hour or 45 minutes and you're done. With prep time (chopping onions and carrots and so on) and time to bring the pot up to pressure, then, getting dried beans on the table, cooked perfectly, will take about an hour and a half - or less. Cooking beans conventionally can take up to eight hours for presoaking plus two to three hours for cooking, not including prep time. I have learned that sometimes the beans I buy are not the freshest (yes, there is a difference in dried beans) and they take a really long time to get done. Even the tough ones give in to pressure cooking, though.
Pressure cookers do an admirable job on fresh veggies, like carrots, and on grains like rice and can even be used to make some interesting desserts. You might be lucky, like I was, and get one for free on freecycle or craigslist, but however you get it be sure to use it!