One friend in the kitchen was the pressure cooker. This piece of equipment allowed you to cook fresh, whole foods in a fraction of time. Some of you are probably saying "so does the microwave", and I agree, except that the end product doesn't compare. Most of us use our microwaves to reheat, or cook prepackaged, additive filled junk food, not fresh meat and produce.
This little gem was a staple in the pre and post World War II decades. It started getting a bad name after the war when the market was flooded with cheap models that were constructed with weak metals.
Cooks held onto their prewar pressure cookers and often several families shared a single cooker. In a time when fuel and food were rationed and shortages were commonplace, the pressure cooker was fast becoming a necessity rather than a mere convenience. In a bulletin to homemakers, the government promoted the formation of "canning circles" to best utilize scarce resources and urged people who owned pressure canners to share them with other families. Warning that "only a few canners will be available for purchase this year," it was suggested that six or more families share each cooker.
Hopefully by now, you can tell what my favorite kitchen tool is at the moment! Yes, my pressure cooker! The little whistle sound it makes as it cooks is a sound that takes me way back in my childhood. If your mother or grandmother cooked from scratch then you too know the sound I'm referring to.
I lucked out and found my pressure cooker at Goodwill for $6.86! It is a Presto 4 quart cooker, and it had all the original parts along with the manual that was dated 1961, which I love! When I started looking through the manual I was astonished at the cook time it gave me for fresh meat and produce.
Here are a few examples:
- Beans (Green or Wax) 3-4 minutes
- Broccoli 2-3 minutes
- Carrots (sliced) 3 minutes (whole) 4-8 minutes
- Potatoes (Baking w/skin) 15 minutes
- Potatoes (for mashing) 10 minutes
- Cauliflower (whole) 5 minutes (flowerettes) 2 minutes
- Corn (On-the-Cob) 3-5 minutes
- Hamburger Patties 5 minutes
- Meatloaf 15 minutes
- Beef Pot Roast 8-10 per pound
- Ham, picnic, plain cut 30 minutes
- Pork Chops, Breaded 12-15 minutes
- If your family eats dried beans or lentils no more soaking over night just to cook for several hours the next day!
- most items cook in 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups of water
If you don't already own a pressure cooker I would highly recommend putting one on your wish list. You could try Goodwill, Craigslist, or Freecycle just to name a few. If your mom or grandmother have one they are not using anymore they would probably love to give it a new home. If all else fails you can buy one new. They now make a model that is totally electric and is so easy to operate a child could do it. I prefer the older style models that only rely on heat, whether from gas, electric stove, or even a fire pit if it comes to that. If you are purchasing a used one, be sure to check out the rubber seal and safety valve. There are plenty of websites that sell replacement parts very cheap if any of those items are damaged. I found several site that actually carry in-stock replacement parts for my 1961 model.
Here are a few website with recipes for pressure cookers Site 1, Site 2, Site 3 which is my favorite due to it having 101 recipes!
I will cook dinner tonight in my pressure cooker and hopefully post pictures on the blog tomorrow if I have time!