Pressure Cookers: Get Quick & Simple Meals For Less
Offering a blend of convenience, versatility, and space efficiency, pressure cookers are well and truly back in style, and today's manufacturers have come up with plenty of different styles to choose from. If you want to experience fast cooking and rich flavours, they are a great investment, but which brands and models should buyers look for?
This hotukdeals buyer's guide will dive into the world of pressure cookers and offer a comprehensive guide to finding the perfect product. We'll look at how pressure cookers work, the major brands, and their variations. But first, let's go back in time to understand where these kitchen standbys come from, and how they have become such a popular home appliance.
A Quick History of Pressure Cookers
The use of steam to cook food has been common for hundreds of years (and arguably even longer, if pit cooking and smoking are included). But modern pressure cookers don't just use heated steam. They also apply pressure via specially designed containers, and the construction of those containers is a much more recent innovation.
The earliest modern pressure cookers are generally traced back to French inventor Denis Papin, who designed a chamber which used steam to vastly speed up cooking times. After that, progress was surprisingly slow, with engineers struggling to create safe, reliable devices that could be employed in everyday kitchens.
During the 19th century, cast iron cookers became fairly common, but were cursed by loud operating noises and the need to vent superheated steam. This limited their use in ordinary homes, where standard stoves tended to be preferred. However, as the 20th century wore on, pressure cookers emerged with spring-loaded valves that could handle higher pressure loads, and designs became much more stable, reducing the vibrations which plagued older models.
Stove top designs appeared in the 1970s, sparking a pressure cooker craze, while electric pressure cookers debuted in the early 1990s, and models with sophisticated temperature and timing settings have appeared in more recent times. These days, buyers can generally expect pressure cookers which limit noise, offer plenty of customisation, and cook reliably, but how do these devices actually work, and why would you use them?
How Do Pressure Cookers Work?
As any physics student knows, if you increase pressure, the energy required to heat water increases, effectively increasing the boiling point. This means that water can be “super-heated” to levels far beyond standard heating systems like kettles or saucepans. And when the steam from this pressurised water is passed through food, it heats and cooks it much more rapidly than would normally be the case.
This process happens in self-contained vessels (if the steam produced escapes without proper containment, it would ruin the temperature build-up). As steam builds up, it raises the pressure further, creating a feedback loop which makes the water hotter – and this is passed onto whatever ingredients are held within the main cooking vessel of the cooker.
However, the steam produced does need to be vented, or explosion risks would be unacceptably high (something which has historically limited the adoption of pressure cooking worldwide). As designers have worked on new models, they have come up with elaborate valves which modulate steam generation, without reducing cooking temperatures or causing safety risks.
The result is fast cooking, high levels of energy efficiency (in most cases), clean and simple operation, and – sometimes – health benefits. When cooking rice, pressure cookers have been shown to eliminate certain toxins, while others claim that pressure cooking retains more minerals and vitamins than standard boiling or roasting.
What to Look for in a Good Pressure Cooker
So that's the basic mechanism which underlies most mass-market pressure cookers. But what should you pay attention to when browsing the pressure cooker sale bargains? Here are some issues that should be covered by product listings, and which can make a huge difference to the experience of using a pressure cooker:
Safety features – Safety has been vastly improved with modern pressure cookers, but it's still something to think about, and cheap models can sometimes miss out on key features. The best pressure cookers include securely lockable lids, both primary and secondary valves to release steam pressure, additional venting around the lip of the vessel, and automatic shut-off mechanisms if the cooker malfunctions.
Size – Size matters a lot when it comes to pressure cookers, which can sometimes be deceptive. From the outside, they may appear formidable and bulky, while the actual cooking vessel inside doesn't measure up. When browsing listings, customers will usually see capacities measured in litre – which should be fairly familiar. However, it's worth remembering that this is the total, not operating capacity. Generally, you'll need to reduce this by one third to arrive at a safe working capacity. When calculating how large your pressure cooker should be, think about how many people will be using it. A rule of thumb is to apportion 1 l per person (including children). Leave a little leeway as well, in case you want to cook enough for multiple meals – a good way to save money and make food go further. However, don't go overboard with the largest pressure cooker you can afford. The smaller the cooker, the more efficiently it will convert water into heat. There's no way around that, and it makes a big difference to cooking times.
Noise – In the past, pressure cookers have been notoriously noisy appliances, and that's still the case for some of the lower quality brands around. But it's far from universal. The best models use spring-loaded valves to limit vibrations (or float valves if you are buying an electric model). Decibel levels may be listed in product specifications but this isn't always the case. So check customer reviews at independent sites to make sure you aren't buying a cooker that will ruin your kitchen ambience.
Materials – Pressure cookers come in a variety of materials. Generally speaking, stainless steel is the option to go for. Not only is steel more rugged and robust than the main alternative aluminium, but steel is also less “reactive”, so it won't affect the taste of ingredients to any degree. Additionally, it's usually not a great idea to buy vessels with “non-stick” properties, as they don't tend to work very well under extreme pressure, and are very vulnerable to abrasion.
Settings – Modern pressure cookers go way beyond old-fashioned models (which basically had an off and a “very, very hot” setting). These days, you should be able to calibrate various settings for different foods. So there should be a high-pressure meat cooking mode and a lower pressure option for veggie stews or rice.
Different Types of Pressure Cooker
When selecting a pressure cooker, those factors should always be on the agenda, but it's also important to know which styles of cooker are likely to crop up on the hotukdeals listings. There aren't that many variations here, but the differences are important, both in terms of features and price:
Stove-top models – As the name suggests, these pressure cookers are designed to be used on the stove, so some heating from below will be required to ensure that the vessel achieves the desired pressure level. This means that chefs will have to pay attention to how things are going (no bad thing when finely seasoning stews and casseroles). Stovetops are the most primitive style of pressure cooker around but have advantages. For one thing, they can reach very high temperatures. They tend to be simple, easy to clean, and easy to operate. They can be used as standard saucepans as well, which can help to save space, and helps if you want to brown off ingredients before pressure cooking. And they are also usually much cheaper than electric models. So while they aren't at the premium end of the scale, good stovetop pressure cookers will do the job for many people.
Electric pressure cookers – More advanced than stove-tops, electric pressure cookers can be used away from the range. When filled with water, they use electric elements to generate heat and pressure, meaning that they can usually be modulated to various settings – something you very rarely see with stove-tops. Electric models will usually have timers on-board, which smooths the cooking process and helps you organise complex meals. And you may be able to double up your electric pressure cooker as a slow cooker – which multiplies your culinary options. On the flip side, electric models struggle to generate as much pressure as stove-tops, and they can be cumbersome to store. They will almost always be more expensive as well – although deals will no doubt be available for between £50 and £100 for decent makes and models.
Microwave pressure cookers – If you are cooking for one or two people, these compact devices could be ideal. Usually made from silicone or other unreactive plastics, they are essentially microwave-ready buckets, which act like normal pressure cookers when placed inside microwaves. They won't suit families with plenty of mouths to feed, and they aren't really designed for haute cuisine recipes, but some people may find them a handy addition, and at £5-£20 in most cases, they won't break the bank.
Some of the Best Pressure Cooker Brands to Look For
When checking out pressure cooker sale bargains, don't simply be swayed by price. Pressure cookers are complicated pieces of kit, and quality varies dramatically between different brands. So here are some manufacturers that won't let you down:
Instant Pot – One of 2019's hottest kitchen appliance makers, Canadian brand Instant Pot creates electric devices that can steam cook, sauté, pressure cook, and even slow cook ingredients. If you want all-round performance, they are a great brand to look at, and have attracted plenty of praise from the experts at BBC Good Food Magazine.
Morphy Richards – Yorkshire-based Morphy Richards is one of the UK's premier kitchen brands, and it's no surprise to find that it has created some exceptional pressure cookers. The MyPot is probably the pick of the bunch, with its efficient performance, slow and pressure cooking capacities, and attractive aesthetics.
Kuhn Rikon – Based in Switzerland, Kuhn Rikon is widely seen as the world's number one pressure cooker maker, equipping hotels and restaurants across Europe. Its Duromatic stove-tops are relied upon by numerous Michelin starred chefs, while the Micro option in the Duromatic range is probably the best microwave pressure cooker around.
IKEA – Swedes love pressure cooking, so it's not really a surprise to find that IKEA has come up with a few excellent (and very affordable) models. Specialising in simple stove-top designs, the retailer's pots are no-frills options that will suit soup fanatics down to a tee.
Sage – Highly praised by Expert Reviews, Sage focuses on creating user-friendly electric models that have detailed displays and plenty of settings. Its pressure cookers tend to be relatively large, so should be perfect for family use.
Video: IKEA VÄRDESÄTTA - Pressure Cooker [IKEA]
Pressure Cooker vs Slow Cookers – Which Is Better?
You might have noticed that a few leading brands offer devices that specifically mix slow cooking and pressure cooking. That's not universal, by any means, but it does make sense.
A slow cooker is essentially a very sedate form of a stovetop cooker. It tends to entail cooking meats, fish, or vegetables in water over a period of 4-6 hours, which allows dishes to reach the perfect consistency, taking on all of the flavour provided by spices, herbs, and stock. This obviously contrasts with pressure cooking, which ratchets up the speed.
The mechanisms involved are similar, so creating 2-in-1 devices hasn't been a huge engineering conundrum. And many customers will appreciate having the choice.
In terms of food quality, it really depends on your personal tastes. Some people adore the taste of lamb or pork cooked slowly, so that the meat drips from the bone. Others (especially vegetarians) won't be too fussed, and will be happy with quickly-prepared nutritious veggie stews or curries.
Pressure cookers tend to be more energy-efficient, although both cookery styles are better than traditional frying or boiling. And stove-top pressure cookers can be more space-efficient. On the other hand, slow cookers are simpler and slightly safer (although to be clear: modern pressure cookers are very safe if used properly).
3 Simple & Easy Pressure Cooker Recipes
If you're dead set on picking up a premium pressure cooker, it's sure to enhance your cookery options. But what exactly can these kitchen accessories help chefs achieve? To help you hit the ground running, some popular pressure cooker recipes include:
Chicken and rice – Brown off some chicken with garlic, add some carrots to the pressure cooker, a dash of soy, and 2 cups of rice, before pouring over half a liter of chicken stock and some tinned tomatoes. Then turn on the cooker, cooking at high pressure for 6-7 minutes, and lower pressure for 12 minutes.
Lamb tagine – Brown some lamb with garlic, onions, saffron and ginger, add a little salt and pepper, and cook in the pressure cooker for 20-30 minutes. Then add some prunes and a little cinnamon, close the cooker, and give it around 20 minutes more, before garnishing with ground almonds.
Chocolate cheesecake – If you have a cake tin that fits into your pressure cooker vessel, you can easily make delicious desserts. For instance, making standard chocolate cheesecakes is a doddle. Just melt some chocolate and butter, set that aside, and then beat together some cream cheese, before adding it to the chocolate. When that's done, mix in some vanilla, egg, and cream, with a few spoonfuls of sugar. Place some biscuit base in the tin, and pour over the cake mix. Cook that on a trivet placed above the water in your pressure cooker for around 50 minutes, and the result should be pretty hard to resist.
How and When To Find the Best Pressure Cooker Offers
If those recipes have sparked your appetite, or you just fancy expanding your possibilities when it comes to food preparation, adding a pressure cooker to your cabinets is an excellent move. When you do, it's important to choose a leading brand and a model that satisfies your every need – which can entail spending over £100. So saving money makes a big difference, and hotukdeals is the place to do so.
Most of these merchants are included in the hotukdeals pressure cooker listings, which are the first place to look when scouting for kitchen bargains. Our listings include pressure cooker deals for all makes and models, with money off deals, discounts for delivery, and bundle deals featuring cookers along with handy accessories as well. They are updated all the time, providing updates about discounts as soon as they become available, so all cookery fans should keep them in their bookmarks folder.
If you're wondering where to buy a pressure cooker, you'll have plenty of options. Retailers to check out include Argos, Lakeland, Amazon, John Lewis, Robert Dyas, and Wilko, not to mention manufacturers' own websites, such as Morphy Richards.
However, if you really want to find a cheap pressure cooker that ticks all of your boxes, timing a purchase makes a lot of sense. You'll tend to find surges in pressure cooker sales around Black Friday in November, and the New Year sales are always a good time for bargain hunting. So, it may be worth waiting if you absolutely need to get the best deals. But if you just want a pressure cooker right now, and want to find the lowest possible prices, the hotukdeals pressure cooker listings are the place to head.
Enhance Your Kitchen With the Pressure Cookers for Sale at hotukdeals
If you find yourself wasting time in the kitchen waiting for casseroles to complete, or curries to come to fruition, pressure cookers offer an excellent option. With fast cooking times, adaptable settings, very efficient energy ratings, and the chance to cook a huge range of foods, these kitchen devices are a must-have for serious chefs. So pick up a deal from the leading brands at the hotukdeals pressure cooker listings.