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Let’s Talk About Electric Pressure Cookers!

Two of the questions I’m most frequently asked about is what’s the best electric pressure cooker on the market today and how electric pressure cookers stack up against the conventional stove top ones. While the first one isn’t all that easy to answer and requires quite a bit of research and the analysis of electric pressure cooker reviews, I can tell you all you need to know about electric pressure cookers in general.

While stove top pressure cookers have been used in American homes since the 1930s, electric models are newcomers to the scene. Which is why it’s not surprising to see so many questions asked about these type of pressure cookers. It is also the reason why I decided to write this article on what you need to know about electric pressure cookers.

What are some of the things I’m going to cover in this article? Well, I’m going to start off by telling you what you need to look for when you’re searching for the best electric pressure cooker. That way, you can quickly scan electric pressure cooker reviews and decide which one if right for you much quicker. After that, I’m going to talk about some of the advantages that electric pressure cookers hold over stove top ones and then I’m going to cover some of the best practices you should be observing when you’re using one of these cookers. Sound good? If it does, then let’s get started right away.

Electric Pressure Cooker Features to Consider

Trying to find the best electric pressure cooker is not always an easy task. Especially when you consider that everybody has their own definition of what makes an electric pressure cooker great. Some people need cookers with larger capacities and less features, while other people want just the opposite. The type of electric pressure cooker you choose will depend on what you need it to do. So with that in mind, here are some of the features you are going to want to look at before you buy one of these cookers.

Check Out the Size

Most of the electric pressure cookers on the market today have a capacity somewhere between 5-quarts and 8-quarts, although there are now 12-quart models available. The size you need really depends on how much food you need to cook in it and this is where a lot of confusion comes in. Most people don’t really know what size pressure cooker they need so they end up buying one too small or too big. Which is why I’ve decided to give you some guidelines to consider as far as size goes.

Each quart usually can feed one person. So if you have an 8-quart model, then you can expect to be able to make food for about 8 people. If you need have fewer people to feed, then feel free to consider buying a smaller model but you need to keep in mind whether or not you’re going to have guests in the future. If you entertain frequently, then a larger electric cooker can really make your life a whole lot easier.

Consider the Wattage

As a general rule, the higher the wattage one the pressure cooker the faster it can build pressure. It also means that it will use more power, so you have to weigh your energy concerns with how fast you want to cook your food.

When thinking about whether you want a high wattage cooker or a low wattage one, there is something you need to consider. High wattage systems use more power but they use it for a shorter amount of time because of how fast they cook. A 1300-watt cooker takes about 6 minutes to cook something that takes a 1000-watt cooker 14 minutes to cook.

Temperature Settings

One thing that confuses a lot of people are all of the pressure settings that electric pressure cookers have nowadays. While it may be nice to have 10 different temperature settings, it can also be kind of confusing because most recipes you find on the Internet today really only deal with a High setting or a Low setting. Which means that many times you have to experiment with a cooker that has a lot of different settings. Of course, how many temperature settings an electric cooker has is really a personal decision—just be sure to make sure it at least has a High and a Low setting. All the rest really doesn’t matter all that much.

Consider The Brand Name

When choosing one of these cookers, it’s important to buy from a company that you know is going to be around for awhile. You certainly don’t want to buy from a fly-by-night company that’s going to be gone in a year and leaving you without a place to buy replacement parts or without a valid warranty. There are several brand name pressure cooker companies on the market today. Some of the top ones are Presto, Cuisinart, Instant Pot, T-Fal, Breville, Cosori, Secura, All American and Kuhn Rikon.

Preset Temperature Settings

Modern electric pressure cookers often have a lot of temperature presets available. Some of the settings I’ve found on models being sold today include settings for rice, soup/broth, beans/chili, porridge, cake, yogurt, egg, steam, saute, pressure cook and slow cook. Which of these settings you really need depends on how you intend on using the pressure cooker. If you like to slow cook your food, steam your food or saute, then get a model that can these things. Otherwise, it’s not that big of a consideration. After all, these settings are really just a convenience feature. You can make just about anything you can think of in a pressure cooker using just the High or Low setting.

However, I do have a few words of caution for you. One of the features that many electric pressure cookers have is a Canning Feature. It is not recommended by the National Center for Home Food Preparation (NCHFP) that you use an electric pressure cooker to can your foods—even if it’s marketed for such use. While I wouldn’t go as far as telling you to avoid such models, I do suggest that if you do buy one of these electric pressure cookers that you don’t use them for canning. Instead, buy one of the stove top models made for canning such as the All American 921.

Price

One of the most important things to consider when buying an electric pressure cooker is how much it’s going to cost. And that not only includes the cost of buying it in the first place but also the price of replacement parts over the years.

And this is where studying electric pressure cooker reviews can really come in handy. When looking over these reviews, you’re going to want to find models that aren’t going to cost you a lot of money. While some models may be more expensive to buy, they actually save you over the long term because you don’t have to replace them or their parts as often.

What are the Advantages of Using Electric Pressure Cookers?

Some people claim that stove top pressure cookers are better than electric ones, and other people argue the exact opposite point. As far as I’m concerned, however, both of these types of pressure cookers have their place in the kitchen. It all really depends on what you need them to do. For some things, such as canning, stove top models are better. For other things, electric ones are better. It all depends on how you intend on using it and what you need it to do, so let’s look over some of the advantages that electric pressure cookers have.

Convenience

One of the top advantages that electric pressure cookers have is the fact that they are very convenient. You just plug them in, load in your food, attach the lid and choose one of the preset settings and the cooker does all the work. You don’t even have to hang around and watch it if you don’t want to. Set it and forget it is a great feature.

Versatility

Another great advantage of an electric pressure cooker is that it is a very versatile product. You can not only pressure cook with them, but oftentimes you can steam, slow cook, make yogurt and sterilize with them. Of course, you could ultimately do the same thing with a stove top model, but not quite as easily as you can with an electric model.

Electric Models Are Safer

While all modern pressure cookers are safer than the models our grandparents and great grandparents used, electric models are even safer. Many of them have safety features that won’t even allow the cooker to be turned on until the lid is properly in place and some of them have alarms that are set off when conditions fall out of the safe area.

What are the Disadvantages of Electric Pressure Cookers?

Of course, I’d be remiss if I also didn’t cover some of the disadvantages of electric pressure cookers. After all, there are some uses in which stove top models are better suited and vice-versa. Let’s take a closer look at some of the short comings of modern electric pressure cookers.

Lower Pressure & Temperature

Let’s face facts; Most electric pressure cookers simply can’t reach the temperatures or the pressures that stove top models can reach. Which is one of the reasons why they aren’t recommended for canning by the NCHFP. Most electric cookers only reach a pressure of 10 to 11 PSI, while stove top ones can reach a PSI of 15.

Smaller Sizes

As I said earlier, electric pressure cookers usually have a size between 5 and 8-quarts with some models boasting a 12-quart size. However, that doesn’t even come close to comparing with stove top models which range from 3-quarts to over 21-quarts in size. Of course, most people will need a pressure cooker between 5 and 8-quarts, so it’s not too big of a deal.

Can’t Use the Cold Water Release Method

Another disadvantage of an electric pressure cooker, at least in my eyes, is that you can’t use the cold water release method with it. Which means that you can’t cool down the pressure cooker quickly. Sure, most electric ones have a quick release valve, but that still isn’t as fast as being able to put the whole cooker under cold water—which is something you can do with stove top models.

Not as Durable as Stove Top Models

Now don’t get me wrong, most electric pressure cookers will last a good long time. However, they won’t last as long as stove top models because their electronics will likely give out after awhile. That’s not even mentioning the fact that stove top models are simpler and have less parts that break down.

Not as Inexpensive

Electric Models aren’t as inexpensive as most stove top models. That’s because they not only have to have the structural elements of a pressure cooker but they also have to have the heating element and the electronics. This, of course, gives them more features but it also drives up their price.

Taking Care of an Electric Pressure Cooker

Even the best electric pressure cooker will fail or become dangerous if it’s not used in the correct manner or if it is not taken care of. And that’s why I’ve decided to add this section to this article. It’s here that I’m going to tell you how to take care of your pressure cooker and ensure its continued operation and performance for years to come.

Read Your New Pressure Cooker’s Manual

One of the most important things you can do for your pressure cooker is to read the manual. You should follow all directions and operating parameters according to how it’s detailed in the manual – even if it contradicts the advice I give you here. After all, the manufacturer knows best about how the cooker should be operated, maintained and stored. I, on the other hand, only offer advice that’s meant to cover pressure cookers in a general sort of way. So always heed your manual’s directions.

Cleaning Your New Pressure Cooker

If you want to keep your new pressure cooker in good condition, then you really need to make sure you take the time to wash it correctly. This means unplugging it and allowing it to cool before you even attempt to clean it. Once it has cooled down, you can then take off the lid and remove the cooking pot from the main body of the cooker. While some people put the cooking pot in the dishwasher, I like to clean mine by hand using a mild detergent and a soft cloth that won’t scratch the non-stick coating. Once I’ve done that, I then set the cooking pot aside to dry.

The next thing I do is to take a semi-damp cloth and clean the main body of the cooker. Under no circumstances do I submerge the main body in water or put it in the dishwasher. Doing so will only damage it. Once everything is clean and dry, I then reassemble the cooking pot back into the main body of the cooker. The next thing I do is to clean the lid with warm, soapy water. I make sure that all of the knobs, valves, and regulators are completely clean. I also check and clean the rubber gasket of my pressure cooker – if it happens to have one. Once all of that is clean and dried, I then put the parts back on the lid and the lid back onto the cooker.

Checking the Cord

Every time that I finish using my electric pressure cooker, I check its electrical cord. If it’s torn, frayed, nicked, burnt or melted then I stop using the pressure cooker immediately and either have it serviced or replaced with a new one. You should never attempt to replace or repair the electrical cord yourself as it could electrocute you, damage the cooker or cause a fire.

Inspecting the Lid Gasket

Another thing that I like to inspect on a regular basis is the gasket that can be found on some models. Over time, these gaskets tend to collect dust and oil on them and may even begin to develop cracks. Once they do develop cracks, you have to replace them but there is a way to maintain them to keep them in better working condition for a longer period of time. What I normally do is to apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to the gasket before I put it back on the lid. I do this about once a month. The vegetable oil keeps the gasket flexible for a longer period of time. If you decide to use this trick, however, be sure that you only use vegetable oil as a lubricant. Vaseline or other petroleum oils are not suitable for this purpose and may cause damage to the gasket.

Checking the Vent Pipe

Before you begin cooking with your cooker, you should always check to make sure that the vent pipe is clean and is free of all debris. If you use the cooker and the vent pipe is clogged, then it could lead to damage of the cooker and may present a dangerous situation. Which is why I check it after I wash it and I check it before I use the machine. Every single time.

Keep it Away From Water

I know this might seem like a bit of common sense advice that shouldn’t need to be mentioned, but I’m going to anyway. I couldn’t tell you how many people I’ve seen use their electric pressure cookers on wet counters. I even saw one person attempting to operate their cooker as it was surrounded by a little puddle of water. Please don’t ever do this. Always make sure that you keep your cooker away from standing water and never ever submerge it in water, even when it’s unplugged.

Never Overfill Your Pressure Cooker

When using your pressure cooker, make sure that you avoid adding to much food or liquid to it. If you overfill your cooker, then you can cause the vents to become clogged, which in turn could damage the pressure cooker or create a dangerous situation. As a rule of thumb, you should only fill your cooker about half full with liquid and about two-thirds full with food.

Store with Lid Upside Down

If you live in a hot and humid area, then you may want to store your electric pressure cooker with the lid placed on it upside down. All you have to do is remove the gasket seal, put the lid on upside down and place it on the cooker’s body. This will prevent odors and molds from building up in your cooker while it’s not in use.

Use Baking Soda

If you don’t use your cooker every day, then you may want to store it with a box of open baking soda in its cooking pot. The baking soda will not only absorb any odors that may be lingering in the pot, but will also prevent excess moisture from building up in the unit.

Pack Up Your Cooker For Long-Term Storage

Another thing you can do to make sure your electric pressure cooker has a long life is to pack it away when it’s not in use. If you aren’t planning on using your cooker for a long time, then you may want to pack it in a cardboard box with some baking soda and tape the box closed. When you’re ready to use the pressure cooker again, then simply clean it up and its ready to go.

Conclusion

Well, that does it for me. I certainly hope that this article was helpful and taught you some things you didn’t know about electric pressure cookers. I also hope that it encourages you to try your hand at using these remarkable products. After all, I’ve loved using these cookers over the past few years and look forward to using them into the foreseeable future. Thanks for reading!

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