Pressure cookers are a handy small appliance that has several functions in the kitchen. The device pressurizes steam to cook foods faster than many other cooking methods. A pressure cooker may be used to prepare quick meals, cook grains and beans and can foods for storage. While pressure cookers are useful, the high pressure and hot steam can pose a danger. There are other pieces of kitchen equipment that can complete pressure cooker functions.
Nearly any meal you would prepare in a pressure cooker can be cooked in a slow cooker, and vice versa. The main difference is time. A roast beef dinner may take one hour in a pressure cooker, but takes eight hours in a slow cooker; however, the active preparation time is about the same. To use a slow cooker as an alternative to pressure cooking, one would need to prepare foods for cooking in the morning to have a ready-to-serve meal by dinnertime.
A pressure cooker can provide perfectly cooked rice and other dried grains in a matter of minutes, but there are many ways to cook grains without pressure. Rice comes out just as fluffy and tender when cooked on a stovetop. Rinse rice before cooking just as you would for pressure cooker preparation, and use the absorption method and a heavy pot. The key to keeping steam trapped inside the pot is a secure fitting lid; that's what makes pressure cooker rice come out perfectly. Place a dishtowel under the lid to seal the pot when cooking rice on the range.
Pressure cookers ensure a safe canning process because the sealed vessel ensures high temperatures and no bacteria. People have been canning for years without pressure by using boiling water. For this method, you use a stockpot and wire rack. Once the jars are filled and ready to be sealed, place them on a rack inside a stockpot filled with water. Put the lid on the pot and bring the water to a rolling boil. Times vary based on canning recipes, but when the process is complete, jar lids will be sealed.
Pressure cookers can cook dried beans without overnight soaking, making the process faster than traditional methods. Outside of the speed, there is no real difference in the texture or flavor of beans cooked in a pressure cooker or another vessel. A quick method for cooking beans on a stove top uses a heated soak. Instead of soaking in cool water for six or more hours, soak dried beans in cool water in a stock pot as you bring it to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and let the beans soak for about one hour, and drain and cook as your recipe requires.