4 questions to ask before buying a pressure cooker

October 15, 2014

This small miracle of modern cooking can make a meal faster than your oven. Here are four things to consider when choosing the best pressure cooker for your family.

4 questions to ask before buying a pressure cooker

1. What size pressure cooker do you need?

  • Are you cooking for a family,or just for a twosome? Your household makeup will influence what size cooker you need.
  • Opt for a four litre cooker if you’re by yourself or cooking for two.
  • Six litre cookers are helpful for a family with more than two people.
  • Larger families should reach for an eight litre model.

2. Aluminum or stainless steel?

Each type of cooker has their pros and cons.

  • Aluminum cookers weigh and cost less than stainless steel and aluminum, as home chefs know, conducts heat well. However, you won’t find one with a non-stick inner surface like some of the pots you may already have—the heat inside the unit would ruin the coating.
  • Stainless steel units meanwhile are indeed heavier and cost more, but their look will last longer than aluminum.

3. Stovetop or electric?

As with all appliances, consider space first.

  • An electric pressure cooker can stand on your counter and heats itself from within.
  • A stovetop pressure cooker sits on top of your stove’s element, but you control the heat manually.

4. What features are available?

Not sure what a pressure regulator is? A cooking rack? Here are some of the features you may want to consider when choosing a good pressure cooker:

  • Cooking rack. Like a steamer insert, this rack sits inside the cooker to cook above the liquid. Bonus? You can cook different foods at the same time.
  • Handles. One handy feature to watch out for is ergonomically designed handles, which might feel better when picking up your cooker—and for larger cookers such as the six litre, opt for a unit that has handles on both sides to help lift the cooker safely.
  • Pressure regulator. As it sounds, this controls the pressure of cooking inside the cooker. Look for a unit that allows you to remove the regulator so you can clean it properly and avoid it being clogged. You'll want a regulator that has a maximum operating pressure of 15 pounds (psi) of pressure.
  • Cover interlock. This is a key feature since it doesn’t let you open the device while it’s under pressure. Better yet, opt for a model that won’t even let pressure build if the unit isn’t fully closed.
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