Pressure cookers cook food quickly, and they turn tough cuts of meat and fibrous vegetables tender in minutes. They're also handy in summer because they don't heat up the kitchen like ovens can and they require little maintenance.
No matter the brand, style or size, pressure cookers generally work the same way using pressurized steam.
After the pressure cooker lid is secured, the liquid inside begins boiling and produces steam. The trapped steam causes pressure to build and the temperature in the cooker to rise above the normal boiling point.
When the cooker reaches full pressure (15 pounds pressure), the pressure regulator in the center of the lid starts to rock or jiggle. At this time, the heat should be reduced just enough to maintain a slow rocking motion.
It's also important to set a timer for the recommended cooking time at this point, since it's impossible to lift the lid to check the doneness of the food without releasing the pressure. Precise timing will help avoid under- or overcooking the food. At the end of the cooking time, the pressure should be released according to the recipe or manufacturer's directions.
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