If you found a new pressure cooker waiting for you under your Christmas tree or Hanukkah bush, then I can help you so that you take it out of the box and use it.
My story is that the first pressure cooker I bought in 1986 came home and sat, waiting for me to use it. On Day 13 of a 14 day return policy, I brought it back to the store, having never even opened the box. I still wish that I had at least tried it out but fear kept me from doing so. Don’t let that be you.
Here’s what I suggest: take the cooker out of the box, skim the instruction booklet which will tell you to wash and dry the cooker. Then add 1 cup of water to your cooker and bring it to pressure. How you do that will depend upon whether you have an electric pressure cooker or a stove top model. With the electric cooker, you will need to plug it in and set the timer to at least 5 minutes. You will hear a noticeable clink which means that the valve shut. After 5 minutes, practice letting the pressure out by turning the valve on top and waiting for the steam to release. It is hot, so be careful.
For the stove top cooker, add the water and lock on the lid. Put the cooker on the stove and turn the heat to high. When the little valve pops up, you have achieved pressure. Turn the heat down to maintain pressure (for as long as you like) and then remove the cooker from the heat and turn the knob or push down to release the pressure (how you do this will depend upon the make and model of pressure cooker). See my video here.
After you do the water test, I suggest that you make stock. You can watch me do that by clicking here. Here is the recipe for making stock in the pressure cooker. It is fast, easy and eliminates the need for boxed or canned stock.
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 cups leek leaves
- 3–4 garlic cloves (optional)
- 3 carrots, cut into chunks
- 3 ribs (stalks) celery, cut into pieces
- 2 bay leaves (true bay not California bay)
- A few peppercorns or up to 1 teaspoon
- 2 sprigs thyme or savory, or other herbs of your choosing (beware of using rosemary as it can be overpowering)
- 10–12 cups pure water, depending upon the size of your cooker
- Put all the ingredients in the pressure cooker. Lock the lid in place. Bring to high
- pressure over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain high pressure. When five minutes is up, turn off the heat and let the pressure come down naturally.
- Remove the lid, tilting it away from you.
- Allow the stock to cool slightly. Then pour the stock through a strainer into containers (not directly into zippered bags).
- When you get to the vegetable matter, press it against the strainer to extract all the liquid and flavor.
- Cool and refrigerate for a few days, or keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. I like to freeze in ice cube trays for when I only need a few tablespoons of stock or in 2 cup portions.
After you make stock let me know how it goes. You can also make stock specific to the soup that you are making such as garlic stock, pea stock, corn stock or whatever your imagination can think up.
Use your pressure cooker and have fun doing it.