The Electric Pressure Cooker
A vegan really cannot do without an electric pressure cooker. Time and time again, pressure cookers have been proven to be the best way to cook food when nutritional value is the highest priority. This is because pressure cookers are so fast, and the faster something cooks, the more nutrition is retained. Fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains – the types of food that a vegan lives off – keep nearly 100% of their nutrients.
There are so many choices when it comes to electric pressure cookers, and many are very affordable while still being designed for years of use. The price tends to go up the more preset programs you get, and not every cooker will have a yogurt setting. The larger the cooker, the more expensive it tends to be, as well. Which one you choose depends on what you plan to cook with it and how many people you would like to be able to feed without making multiple batches.
Using the Electric Pressure Cooker
Electric pressure cookers are not hard to figure out. They consist of three main parts: the lid, the inner pot, and the base. The lid is the most important part of the cooker, because it is designed to provide the airtight seal that allows pressure to build and the boiling point of water to go up. The lid has a steam release handle, which needs to be in the “sealing” position when you’re cooking. When the recipe is complete and it calls for a “quick-release” or “manual release,” you turn the handle to “venting.” If the recipe calls for a “natural release,” it means you turn off the cooker and wait for the pressure to come down on its own. Want to know if the pressure is all gone? Look at the float valve, which is a little pin on the lid that is either up or down. Up means there’s still pressure, while down means you can open the pot.
The inner pot of the pressure cooker is where the food actually cooks. It’s basically just like your other pots, nothing too special or technological about it.
The base is the cooker’s brain. The control panel is where you set all your pressures and times and what not. Most electric pressure cookers have these buttons and programs, or ones very similar. It looks intimidating, but it’s pretty self-explanatory:
Sauté: You’ll be using this setting a lot in this book. You use it whenever you need to cook aromatics (onions, garlic, herbs, etc.) or brown something. This is a non-pressurized setting, which means you keep the lid off.
Keep Warm/Cancel: Another setting you’ll get to know well. Hitting “cancel” will turn off your pressure cooker or reset it, if you hit the wrong button. You can also use this setting to keep the food in your cooker warm until you’re ready to serve.
Manual: You pretty much use this button every time in the recipes. When you hit this, you then choose the pressure you want and length of time you’ll be cooking.
The “-” and “+” buttons: You hit one of these two buttons after hitting “manual,” so you can adjust to the proper cooking time. You can also select these buttons after choosing a specific program, because there are default times on those, and you don’t necessarily want to use them.
Pressure: After choosing your cooking time, you can hit this button to specify what pressure (low or high) you want to use.
Soup: This program sets the cooker for high pressure for 30 minutes.
Meat/Stew: This program sets the cooker for preparing meats for high pressure for 35 minutes. You won’t have to worry about this one.
Poultry: Sets the cooker for chicken, turkey, etc. on high pressure for 15 minutes.
Beans/Chili: Sets the cooker for beans and chili on high pressure for 30 minutes.
Rice: Sets cooker on low pressure. The electric pressure cooker selects its own cooking time depending on the amount of rice and water you have in the pot.
Multi-grain: Sets the cooker for grains on high pressure for 40 minutes.
Porridge: Sets the cooker for porridge on high pressure for 20 minutes.
Steam: Sets the cooker for 10 minutes on high pressure.
Yogurt: Used only for starting a yogurt cycle on the electric pressure cooker.
Slow Cook: Sets cooker to operate like a slow cooker.
Even with all those programs, we will really only use a max of four in these recipes: “Sauté,” “Manual,” “Cancel,” and the “-” and “+” buttons. The only time this will be different is if the recipe calls for low pressure. Then you will use the “Steam” setting or, if your pressure cooker has one, “Pressure Level.”
If your pressure cooker doesn`t have a “sauté” setting, any of the preset buttons work. You just want to get your cooker hot to cook your ingredients.
If your cooker doesn`t have the “Manual” setting, you can use any of the preset buttons, and then adjust to the time you want using the “+” or “-” buttons.
When time is up, hit “cancel” or “stop.”
When you make a recipe, you’ll notice references to a steamer basket or trivet. These are essentials for any pressure cooker, because a lot of food should not directly touch the bottom of the cooker while cooking, or it will burn. Steamer baskets and trivets perform the same function, so it really doesn’t matter which you use, if you don’t want to get both.