How does a pressure cooker work?

How does a pressure cooker work? What is a pressure cooker? These are good questions that I have never answered clearly in the many years on this page. Funny isn’t it? The answer to the question of how a pressure cooker works or the definition of the pressure cooker should come first! I’m not sure if you – dear reader – already know what a pressure cooker is or how it works. Does anyone who comes to this site know? I don’t know!

And because of this blatant lack of knowledge, I want to close this thematic gap in the pressure cooker recipe and explain very briefly what a pressure cooker is and smuggle in a few cooking basics; So to speak, the basic knowledge for a successful (not only theoretical) pressure cooker use.

What is a pressure cooker?

A pressure cooker is a saucepan that can be closed pressure-tight. The pot lid and the pot enter into such an intimate relationship with one another that any pressure inside cannot come out and no pressure can come in from outside. At least up to a point. Then various mechanisms take effect in the pressure cooker, which regulates the pressure. (See also the next section)
A pressure cooker is usually made of stainless steel or another very resistant material. The bottom of a pressure cooker is formed by a highly thermally conductive layer, which ensures that the energy from the stove is passed into the inside of the pot without any major problems.
The pressure cooker comes with a special lid which, by means of a seal, ensures that it closes the pot airtight and watertight. The control elements and safety mechanisms are often “hidden” in the lid.

How does a pressure cooker work?

If the pot is tightly closed and energy is constantly being fed into the interior, the water in the pot will evaporate. Water vapor forms, which unfortunately cannot escape. The pressure inside the pressure cooker increases over time as more and more water vapor is formed, but there is always only the same amount of space for the water vapor. Higher pressure causes water to boil at higher temperatures. Physics speaks here of the increased boiling point. Normally in this country water boils at just under 100 ° C. The higher pressure shifts the boiling temperature upwards. This is where the different cooking levels take effect, each representing a specific temperature. The temperature of cooking level 1 is often 109 ° C and that of cooking level 2 is 116 ° C. Depending on the manufacturer, these temperatures vary, but the principle is always the same.

Perhaps it should also be mentioned that a modern pressure cooker only begins to build up pressure when the steam has completely displaced the normal air in the pot through the valve on the lid (for example the at Fissler ). This means that food is cooked without atmospheric oxygen. On the one hand, oxygen is vital for us, on the other hand, it is extremely aggressive because it is very reactive. It destroys vitamins and other ingredients in food. This is why preparation in a pressure cooker is even healthier than normal steam cooking.

Why does a pressure cooker cook food faster?

To put it simply, cooking is just an interplay of different (mainly chemical) processes. The various substances that make up our food, among other things, react with each other when heated. If the temperature increases like in a pressure cooker, the substances react more quickly with one another. A rule of thumb states that it only takes a temperature that is 10 ° C higher to double or even triple the speed of the reactions. So much for the theory. In terms of the pressure cooker, this means: at cooking level 1 – almost 110 ° C and thus 10 ° C higher than with normal cooking – we cook around 50% faster than with a normal saucepan. In other words: we save 50% time and thus energy, because we don’t have to keep the stove on for so long!

Pressure cooker or pressure cooker or pressure cooker – what is what?

Actually, the terms all mean one and the same principle: Food is not cooked in water, but cooked in steam. The only difference is in speed. Steaming is a great way to keep the vitamins in our food. While most of the vitamins that are often found below the surface are simply rinsed out when boiling with water, the vitamins remain in the food when cooking with steam. This benefits us because we feed the vitamins into us, where they can do a lot of good, and do not dump them with the cooking water. Since water is also necessary for the pressure cooker (where else should the steam come from?), There are so-called steamer inserts. These are small bowls with or without holes in the bottom, which can be used in the pressure cooker. Since the inserts stand on feet (sometimes real tripods), the food in and above the bowl does not come into direct contact with water. They are only cooked in the steam of the evaporating water.


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