How Do Pressure Cookers Work? A Complete Guide by Prestige

How Do Pressure Cookers Work? A Complete Guide by Prestige

28 December 2022

We've written a comprehensive guide to help you to get to grips with your new pressure cooker, with a few delicious recipe suggestions thrown in too. Read on to find out more about how your pressure cooker works and what you can cook with it.

Thinking of buying a pressure cooker but unsure how they work? Through the hustle and bustle of family life, one of these clever devices can be a lifesaver in the kitchen - but only when you know how to use it effectively.

We've written a comprehensive guide to help you to get to grips with your new pressure cooker, with a few delicious pressure cooker recipes thrown in too. Read on to find out more about how your pressure cooker works and what you can cook with it.

What is a pressure cooker?

A pressure cooker is a large, sealed chamber that generates and traps steam, heating up its contents. You can use one to cook delicious meals from scratch, with much faster cooking times than conventional pots, pans and slow cookers.

Some pressure cooker types are powered by electricity but all Prestige pressure cookers are designed to be used on the stovetop - with options that are suitable for induction hobs too.

Stovetop pressure cookers have a higher capacity, allowing them to operate at higher pressure. Most electric pressure cookers have a maximum pressure of around 12psi but stovetop models handle pressure up to 15psi. This might not sound significant but higher pressure offers an advantage: food cooks much faster which means energy efficient cooking.

What is a pressure cooker used for?

Knowing what to use a pressure cooker for will save you so much time and effort in the kitchen. Because they reach such high temperatures, they're not always the best cooking method for delicate foods like green vegetables or flaky fish.

However, pressure cookers excel at braising and stewing cuts of meat, cooking tough ingredients like pulses from scratch, and slow-cooked dishes like stews. You can even take on family favourites like this prawn and pea risotto in your pressure cooker.

How does a pressure cooker work?

  • It's important to remember that a pressure cooker should never be used without water. Once you've closed the lid and turned up the heat, steam starts to build up. Never fill it any higher than halfway - space needs to be left for steam to build
  • As steam accumulates the internal pressure increases, pushing the boiling point of water higher than 100°C. In turn, this higher temperature reduces cooking times and extracts flavours efficiently
  • Cooking times should be worked out from the moment at which the pressure cooker reaches the desired pressure. At that point, you should lower the heat and try to maintain the pressure, which might involve adjusting the heat continuously
  • There are two ways to release the pressure: you can either wait for the pressure to drop naturally as the temperature is lowered or, if you're in a hurry, run the cooker under a cold tap
  • Liquid used in the pressure cooker won't reduce while cooking, so you'll need to simmer it down once you've removed the lid. To finish your meal, you could also add tender ingredients and cook them with the simmering process

What are the benefits of using a pressure cooker?

We love pressure cookers at Prestige. Some of the advantages of these clever devices include:

  • Healthy cooking: Steam builds inside the pressure cooker, extracting flavours without the need for excess oils
  • Efficiency: You can cook your favourite meals up to 70% faster
  • Quality guaranteed: We're proud to offer a lifetime guarantee on our Smart Plus Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker, so you can cook with confidence
  • Accessories included: Our pressure cookers come with everything that you need to start cooking nutritious meals quickly
  • Controlled cooking: Complete with mechanical locking device, manual settings and visual pressure indicators, these cookers allow for convenient use
  • Versatility: Whether you're cooking beef brisket or jams and chutneys, you can enjoy a simple, easy cooking process and clean-up

Are pressure cookers energy efficient?

Yes! Thanks to their ability to cook food quickly, pressure cookers offer improved efficiency over traditional cooking methods, saving you fuel and energy. If you were making a casserole, for example, you might've previously needed to use both the stovetop and the oven. With a pressure cooker, you'll only need to use one energy source.

Which pressure cookers are available?

We have aluminium, hard-anodised and stainless-steel pressure cookers available to choose from. A stainless-steel pressure cooker is the best choice if you have an induction hob at home. This is because aluminium isn't induction-compatible and won't work with your stovetop.

However, our High Dome Iconic Aluminium Pressure Cooker is our most versatile model, complete with extra capacity and a three-piece weight for varied pressure cooking. If you have a busy household and cook using a gas stove, this could make an excellent choice.

Pressure Cooker on Stove Top

How do I use a pressure cooker for the first time?

Before you use your pressure cooker for the first time, check it thoroughly. Make sure that the pot and lid are in perfect condition, without any damage, dents or cracks.

Next, you'll need to perform a water test to prove that your cooker works as it should. To make sure that it builds, maintains and releases pressure correctly, use the following steps:

  • Fill your pressure cooker with a litre of water
  • If possible, set the knob to the highest possible setting, then close the lid
  • Place your cooker over high heat and wait for the pressure indicator to rise
  • Lower the heat to medium-low and leave your cooker on the stove for 5 minutes
  • Remove your pressure cooker from the stove, keeping it off the heat for 10 minutes

Why should I choose a stovetop pressure cooker?

Stovetop pressure cookers are most suitable for:

  • Chefs who need a powerful, fast cooking device
  • Those who prefer durability and long-term value over convenience - a stovetop pressure cooker is an investment to last through the years
  • Cooks who want to experiment with technical pressure-cooking methods, controlling the heat manually

What Can You Cook with a Pressure Cooker?

Pressure cookers are versatile pieces of equipment and can be used to cook an array of meals. But the most popular are the ones that take a long time using conventional cooking methods. For example stews, homemade stocks, chicken and lentils can be made in a flash in the Prestige Smart Plus Hard Anodised Non Stick Pressure Cooker.

Here are a few of our top pressure cooker recipes:

Find your new pressure cooker with Prestige

Ready to cook your favourite meals fast? If you haven't found the right pressure cooker for your kitchen in our fantastic online selection, we can help. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team if you have any questions about pressure cookers or how to use them.

Looking for good-value, quality cookware to complete your kitchen? Head over to our exclusive special offers to find the latest cookware with irresistible discounts.