Pressure Cookers: How To Use Them Safely

Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers can prepare foods at least 70% faster than other cooking methods like braising, steaming, and broiling. They’re also energy- and cost-efficient, which makes them an all-round handy kitchen tool for families. Yet, despite their benefits, pressure cookers still come with a number of risks and it’s important to prioritize safety while using them. 

Benefits of pressure cookers for families

Pressure cookers are great for family meal times; you just need to throw in the ingredients and your food will be ready in a flash. Pressure cooking also helps ensure the food retains more nutrition, minerals, and vitamins than regular, lengthier cooking methods as the longer food takes to cook, the more nutrients are destroyed. Pressure-cooked meat, in particular, is iron-rich, while also offering notably lower unsaturated fat content, making it a healthier option at dinner times. 

Additionally, pressure cooking can help tougher foods like beans and grains become more easily digestible, so you can avoid issues like gas and bloating. And, since grilling, roasting, and baking can also typically release potentially harmful chemicals like acrylamide during the cooking process, pressure cooking offers an easy way to avoid exposing your family to these toxins. Pressure-cooked food also has richer colors and flavors, which can please even the most picky of children. 

Pressure cookers and children

While it’s not safe for children to use pressure cookers themselves, there’s still plenty of ways they can get involved in food prep before you enjoy delicious meals together

Pressure cookers carry a host of risks, including hot liquid spills, contact and steam burns, and even explosions. It’s therefore key to make it a rule that your children never interfere with the pressure cooker while it’s switched on. It should be inaccessible altogether for younger children.

Similarly, pets are another concern: keep them away from the pressure cooker while it’s in use. Pressure cooking requires your full focus and pets can easily be a distraction. Also, keep in mind, pressure cookers take a while to cool down after use, and therefore can still pose a burn risk for a period of time. 

Although children may not be able to use the pressure cooker themselves, they can still help to prepare nutritious meals. A step stool, in particular, can help children reach the counter and get involved in kitchen activities.

With a set of child-friendly knives, kids can also practice basic knife skills and help chop up simple fruits and veggies for your meal. Finger guards can also help protect little hands from sharp knives.

Alternatively, if your children aren’t ready to handle knives, they can also help wash produce instead. All you need to do is fill a big bowl of water and place it in the sink. Then, with the help of your step stool, you can teach your little one how to wash fruits and veggies.

Using a pressure cooker safely

When using your pressure cooker, it’s important to prioritize safety. Always check the rubber gasket before using your pressure cooker; it should be in good condition with no lines, cracks, or wear. Ideally, the rubber gasket needs replacing at least once a year — make sure you have a spare one at the ready to use when you need it.

Although it can be tempting to leave cleaning for later, your pressure cooker should always be cleaned after use; letting food harden around the rim can eventually result in damage. 

When you’re ready to fill the pressure cooker, don’t fill it more than two-thirds full as a general rule. If it’s too full, the food may block the release vent, which means the pressure has nowhere to escape — resulting in potential explosion.

Electric pressure cookers typically switch off to prevent explosion, whereas stove-top pressure cookers still carry this risk. Moreover, aside from just being dangerous, overfilling can also diminish the flavor, texture, and nutrition content of your food. 

Able to save time, energy, and money, pressure cookers are a great kitchen tool. By being responsible and prioritizing safety, you’ll be able to successfully use your pressure cooker at family meal times.

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