Hip Shopping: My favorite time-cutting gadgets and tips on using, storing, and cleaning them!
Once you get the hang of pressure cooking and its speed all of the preparation seems to take longer! Here are my favorite gadget and kitchen helpers to speed-up your pressure cooker meals, plus my tips on choosing the best one for your needs.
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Apple Slicer and Corer -If you have kids, or love to make apple-y things, like Lorna Sass’s Apple Sauce, you slice and core apples at the same time… then let your pressure cooker tenderize the skin into delicious submission. Mostly, I just give it a rinse but once in a while I give it a good washing in the dishwasher.
Mondolin Slicer – I’ve gone through several mandolin slicers and I always go back to the Swissmar Boerner (without the umlat, an e is added to the o) – it’s not the most attractive mandolin on the market but if you value your fingers it has a great finger-guard that is easy to hold for my smallish hands, a stable blade, adjustable slice widths and little notches that let you balance it on the rim of your pot, or bowl, so the slices go straight in. The julianne and shred blades stick out a little above the slicing blade, so if you turn the veggie or fruit you are slicing 90 degrees on each slice you can get a regular or fine dice, too!
Never, ever imitate a TV chef and use a mandolin without the finger guard and store it in a high cupboard away from curious children and “helpful” guests. I use the first model, but see that there are newer ones by this same manufacturer, so I have included them below.
I write my pressure cooker recipes for two continents – and this is an indispensable tool for converting the weight of ingredients. Though you might not be writing, you might find a fantastic recipe only written in metric measurements and, like me, discovered that the online ingredient translators are woefully inaccurate.
The best part of using a scale is that when making steamed breads, cakes or puddings you can just keep adding ingredients to the same bowl and hit “tar” or “0″ to start the next measurement. If making jams are more to your liking, just measure the fruit and sugar directly in the pressure cooker.
There are different capacity scales, be sure to get one with at least 11lb capacity (in case you will be measuring things in you 5lb pressure cooker base), and even better if it has a “unit” or “g/oz” button (you never know!). I couldn’t find the same model I use in Europe, but these look pretty snazzy:
Immersion or Stick Blender
I cannot speak highly enough about immersion blenders. The only thing I like more are accessorized immersion blenders (the chopping cup is perfect for making pesto, or chopping up cookies or nuts for a recipe).
Exercise common sense when blending super-heated ingredients right in your pressure cooker: Keep the blending “head” always submerged, if you do not have enough liquid tilt the pressure cooker then blend in the “deepest” part.
When finished, simply twist off the removable head and give a quick sud and rinse in the kitchen sink.
If you have lots of delicate non-stick cookware, get a blender with a plastic “head”, otherwise I recommend a stainless steel head. If you have a nearby plug a “wired” blender is better than wireless (lighter, more powerful and always ready to go). I have the set with the whisk, too – but I have used it only once in the last two years so, think about your own cooking needs to decide whether one is essential part of the set!
Speed-up the time to pressure
Using a high-powered induction burner (1800 watt or more) in conjunction with your pressure cooker can cut the time to pressure in half. The pressure cooker pre-heats almost instantly and when you turn off the heat the burner is cool immediately – leaving only the residual heat of your pressure cooker to do the work.
Everyone who hasn’t used one has “heard” that they are as fast as gas.. but in my experience with sautéing and bringing a cooker up to pressure it is much, much faster!! I cooked on two while visiting a manufacturer in Germany I was in loooove!! I’ve been told that one is in the mail from Spain… but if it doesn’t get here soon I plan to run out and get my own.
Most modern pressure cookers have an induction-compatible base, if you’re not sure, flip your cooker over and look for this symbol. Induction compatibility should be noted in the pressure cooker’s user manual as well.
If you get an induction burner with a timer, you’ve just upgraded your pressure cooker, too! Set the induction burner timer when your pressure cooker reaches pressure, and when the time is reached the burner shuts off automatically – which begins the “natural” open method all by itself.
Ready for more?!?.
See more of my recommendations for pressure cookers and accessories, at the hip shopping page!
What are you favorite kitchen shortcuts and gadgets?
Leave a comment, below!