We all love how fast cooking is when done using a pressure cooker, yet we rarely take the time to contemplate why foods cook faster in the cooker. To understand this, we need to identify with the physical mechanics of the cooker starting with what it does.
How the Cooking Goes Down
The first step to understanding why foods cook faster in a pressure cooker is understanding how the cooker works. From its design, you can tell that a pressure cooker is a pot that has a lid with a control valve. The lid has an airtight seal to prevent steam from escaping, which in turn increases the pressure as the boiling temperature rises to around 2500 F. Pressure release valves open to release excess steam when nessesary to keep things safe. This is why pressure cookers make their classic noises in the kitchen.
Below is a simple breakdown that will explain why foods cook faster in a pressure cooker.
- The pot has a lid with an air-tight seal to prevent loose of steam or heat. The lid has a spring-loaded valve that opens to allow air and steam to escape.
- As vapour escapes from the food during heating, it pushes the valve up sealing the vent. The vent will open when there is very high pressure in the pot, which allows only excess steam and pressure to escape to maintain a constant heat and pressure for fast cooking.
- The water should be enough to cover the contents of the pot. Bringing the pot to a boil causes water to vaporize into steam and thus coupled with the continued heating increases pressure in the cooker.
- The increased pressure causes a balance between the water boiling point temperature and that of the steam and the pressure is controlled and held at a constant by the spring-loaded valve.
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What Can Be Cooked In A Pressure Cooker?
You can cook almost anything using a pressure cooker; rice, vegetables, beans, meat – you name it, and all is done in less than an hour. You only need to know the nature of the food you intend to prepare. Some foods are tough and such can be cooked until they are tender using a pressure cooker. Slight soft foods take a short time to cook compared to the tough foods.
The Secret is Pressurized Steam
The science or secret to the effectiveness of a pressure cooker is the steam. Steam has a heat potential that is six times that of a cold food product in the pot. It is this heat potential that makes it so effective for cooking.
All foods contain a certain amount of water and when cooked, the transference of heat during that process causes the heating and transferring of water molecules that result in cooked food. So, heating the airtight pot will raise the water B.P (boiling point) from 2120 F to as high as 2500 F because of the trapped steam and heat resulting in high pressure in the pot. The high pressure forces the steam into the foods thus resulting in a faster way of cooking.
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The Beauty of Cooking Using a Pressure Cooker
Everything remains in the pot when cooking with a pressure cooker.You get to keep all the good stuff in the food; nothing evaporates away. The food retains the nutritional value, colour, and taste compared to boiling that expels all the oxygen while also demand the use or more amounts of water or cooking liquid.
The only issue that can come as a surprise especially when cooking certain foods is caramelization and browning.
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A pressure cooker primarily uses steam under high pressure to prepare foods. However, there is more to just cooking using highly pressurized steam and this the actual secret to the pressure cooker’s effectiveness. The perks of using a pressure cooker are:
- It is hot with a steady heat
- A fast cooking option
- A healthy way of cooking
- It is energy efficient
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