Having grown up in the 1950s and ’60s, I remember my mother’s pressure cooker. It was a scary thing that hissed and jiggled on the stove. And it had the potential to blow up.
We boys learned not to touch it, and my mother had a healthy respect for the dangers that it posed.
Today’s pressure cookers are entirely different. For one thing, they come as electric plug-ins now as opposed to stovetop models, although it is still possible to buy a stovetop pressure cooker.
There are now so many safety features on today’s pressure cookers that I’m told blowing up is something that’s not even possible anymore.
Perhaps the biggest danger today can be doing a quick release of the pressure, which lets out a steady stream of steam. But most recipes don’t call for a quick release, and when one does, it can be done by first putting a cloth over the vent so that the steam goes into the cloth instead of straight up.
Pressure cookers are perfect for plant-based cooking, and most people I know who are following a whole foods, plant-based way of eating have a pressure cooker.
It’s not the exclusive domain of plant-based eaters though. Some people buy them to cook meats, particularly roasts and whole chickens, as well.
For those of us following the plant-based way of eating, it really makes cooking easy. With a pressure cooker, such as the InstantPot, of which I own two, you can saute, cook dried beans without pre-soaking them, make perfect rice every time, create wonderful soups, steam vegetables, and bake potatoes, among many other options.
I use an InstantPot every day to make my oatmeal in the morning. I’m talking about steel-cut oats, the healthiest way to eat your oats that most people don’t do because cooking steel-cut oats over the stove takes 30 minutes or more of frequent stirring.
In the InstantPot, I put in the oats and the water, set it for 3 minutes and walk away.
That’s right, I said 3 minutes. And I don’t have to stir the oats once. They come out perfect every time.
There are some great cookbooks to help with pressure cooking. They include “O M Gee Good! Instant Pot Meals Plant-Based and Oil-Free” by Jill McKeever, “Vegan Under Pressure” by Jill Nussinow, MS, RDN, and “Vegan Pressure Cooking” by J. L. Fields.
J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer and photographer.