OK, here’s my hyphenated list of what’s containers are suitable to use in the pressure cooker:
- Oven-safe – Any container that is suited for baking in the oven can resist the temperatures of the pressure cooker.
- Food-grade – A glass flower vase, for example, is not food-safe or food-grade as the glass might contain lead. The container needs to be made of food-grade materials.
- Non-hermetic– Any container that fully seals, like a flanera, tiffin box, camping container, or a pudding mold should not be used in the pressure cooker sealed. That’s because a hermetically-sealed container will build pressure inside as well but it lacks the valves and vents to safely release it.
Here’s a portion of the heat-proof containers that I re-purposed from my kitchen. Actually, one was specifically made for the pressure cooker – see if you can guess which one it is!
The stainless steel bowl was actually a storage container designed of the refrigerator. It’s the kind that came with a plastic lid. I got rid of the plastic lid, and I use the bowl in the pressure cooker.
The Indian tiffin box it seals hermetically, so I don’t use the lid in the pressure cooker. It’s actually quite handy because it already has a handle to easily pull it out of the pressure cooker.
The bundt pan solved my soggy-centered steamed cake problem. No more center, no more problem! Actually, I’ll explain a little later why this works.
The mini cheese-cake spring-form pan is one of many I tried using in the pressure cooker in different ways. Look, these spring-form pans and push pans… forget them! They’ll just give you a cheesecake with a soggy crust. You don’t need them.
I’m not a big fan of silicone. It’s slow to cook and it retains flavors from previous recipes as well as the flavor of the dish-washing detergent. So, I don’t recommend them. BUT, they’re actually great for making cheesecake – and I’ll explain and show you why during the recipe.
This ceramic bowl is the perfect shape for making bread puddings. Actually, speaking of ceramic, even a mug will do!
Did you notice how many materials can be used in the pressure cooker? Unfortunately, each one has its own quirks
Each material has its own “heat transfer rate.” In our case it means how long it takes for the steam in the pressure cooker, to heat-up the container, to cook the food or dessert inside. The higher the transfer rate, the faster the heat is delivered to the batter, and the faster the dessert is made!
The Three Ingredient Flan from my cookbook, actually takes twice as long to cook in a silicone ramekin than a ramekin made of any other material!
- silicone actually insulates the contents from heat;
- glass and ceramic are slow to heat-up but also slow to cool down so these containers continue cooking the contents even after they’ve been removed from the pressure cooker.
- stainless steel heats faster, but also cools down quickly;
- aluminum containers transfer the most heat to the food, but they’re delicate and can react with acidic foods.
Since they’re easy to find and perform the best, I mostly make my desserts with stainless steel and ceramic accessories.
But the material of the container is not the only thing that affects the pressure cooking time of the dessert – the shape of the container matters, too!
Just like any other food under pressure, the food is cooked from the outside-in. So, the further the heat has to travel, the longer it will take for the dessert to cook! For desserts in particular, I consider them done under pressure once the raising agent is activated, and the eggs have set.
And speaking of raising agents… let’s talk about baking powder, now!