Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rediscovering the Pressure Cooker

Most ladies I talk with are working mothers and those that don't work outside the home volunteer, home school or take care of grandchildren so their adult children can work.  The one main theme coming from all these ladies is lack of time in the kitchen. Why is this?  We live in the 21st century, we have more modern conveniences than any previous generation.  We have microwave ovens, indoor grills, toaster ovens, blenders, rotisserie ovens,  bread machines, crock-pots, and $400.00 mixers just to name a few!  And somehow we still can't manage to feed our families fresh, non-processed food.

I've always been mystified by the housewives fifty years ago.  How in the world did they raise children, grow a garden, take care of the house, wash, dry and iron all the laundry and have three hot meals a day on the table.  I'm beginning to discover a few of their secrets, one of which is that they had basic kitchen equipment and knew how to use it.

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
As you can see the cooking times are very short.  To think I can come home from a busy day and have fresh green beans in three minutes, or prepare a meatloaf in fifteen is almost crazy to me.  Why would we choose a boxed meal that has no real nutritional value or a minced meat product that is formed into a shape to serve our families when we have such awesome tools to help us cook real food?   

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!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome Post...When it comes to pressure cookers, there are numerous pros and cons. They are ideal for quickly making stews and soups. They speed up the cooking time for meats.Pressure Cooker Reviews


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