Save Electricity in Your Kitchen with a Pressure Cooker

Before there were microwave and convection ovens in our kitchens, cooks used pressure cookers to prepare meals quickly. These interesting looking pans and kettles were designed to cook food under pressure which significantly lowered the cooking time. For a family trying to cut back on their electricity consumption in the kitchen, a pressure cooker is a terrific way to lower your energy use.

What is a pressure cooker?

Pressure cookers resemble a standard soup kettle or lidded sauce pan with a few modifications. Pressure kettles have a lid that locks into place, a place for steam to release, a rubber gasket to prevent air from escaping around the lid, and an apparatus called a pressure control. These features allow the cooking water inside the kettle to build up pressure and reach temperatures above the boiling point. This higher temperature lowers the cooking time.

Chefs discovered that by cooking under pressure, whole chickens could be stewed in 15 minutes, pot roasts in 35 minutes and that fresh vegetables such as green beans and carrots could be ready to eat in less than 5 minutes. In Europe and Asia, pressure cookers are extremely popular ways of preparing foods, saving both time and energy use.

The science behind pressure cooking

When we boil or stew food in a kettle, the temperature of the water remains a constant 212 degrees Fahrenheit, even when the burner has been turned to the highest setting. At this temperature, a whole chicken (to use as an example) will take nearly 60 minutes to cook. With a pressure cooker, the steam created by the water is trapped within the kettle. With the pressure control set at 15 PSI (pounds per square inch) the internal temperatures will reach 250 degrees, infusing the steam within the chicken and speeding up the cooking.

For cooks concerned with nutrition, the sealed environment of these cookers means that water soluble vitamins and minerals aren’t cooked away resulting in healthier food.

So how much energy will I actually save?

Ovens are one of the highest energy draws in your home, using as much electricity as an air conditioner. Using this energy calculator you can figure out the exact cost of the electricity used by roasting a chicken in the oven. Based on average electrical use, 15 minutes of preheating and one hour of roasting costs about 62 cents of electricity. By contrast, a pressure cooker placed on the range top for twenty minutes costs less than a penny of electricity.

For a family that is short on time but interested conserving energy in the kitchen, pressure cooking is an old fashioned cooking method that still make sense today.

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