Beginning in the 1930s, two successive generations of busy cooks used pressure cookers to prepare family meals. The next generation, with memories of valves dancing and hissing on stovetops, snubbed pressure cookers. Now pressure cookers have come back, those old valves replaced by modern versions that ensure safety while delivering the speed, ease, and nutritional benefits of pressure cooking. Pressure cooking also saves 70 percent of the energy normally consumed while cooking.
This heavyweight, stainless-steel beauty is a fine example of contemporary engineering and style. Its mirror finish gleams, and its black handles--including a loop handle for two-handed lifting--stay cool. Pressure-cooking traps steam to heat foods at temperatures higher than boiling. An aluminum disk in the base, sandwiched by stainless steel, speeds the process even more through fast heat conductivity. It's safe on electric, gas, ceramic, and induction stovetops. Little water is required, so nutrients, flavor, and color are not boiled away. Vegetables emerge vibrantly colored from the steamer insert. Stews, soups, beans--even meat loaf, pork chops, and desserts such as bread pudding--come out tasty and nutritious. (A booklet containing dozens of recipes is included.) You can brown meats in the pot before the lid is locked on, or use the pot without the lid. The stem of the operating valve shows high and low pressure so you can adjust heat for different foods. After cooking, the pressure can be reduced slowly (just let the cooker sit for a while), normally (press the pressure indicator), or quickly (run tepid water on the lid's rim).
Safety measures abound: the lid twists onto the pot; a rubber gasket ensures a tight seal. A vent releases steam if pressure builds too high, as does a valve that also locks the lid when any pressure whatsoever is inside the cooker. Cleanup is a bit involved: hand wash the pot, gasket, and lid with a mild detergent, then lightly oil the gasket. Normally the valve is self-cleaning, but if food passes through it, disassembly is required. Minor cleaning inconvenience, though, should not overshadow the major convenience of pressure cooking. --Fred Brack
Prepare food in one-third the time of conventional methods with these Duromatic pressure cookers from Kuhn Rikon. Surgical stainless steel retains its polish, even in the dishwasher. Features an automatic lid-locking system. Made in Switzerland.