Each cook top has its own quirks. The speed of induction and sluggishness of electric cook tops can affect the performance of the pressure cooker. Here’s how to get the best from your pressure cooker in any situation.
The dirty little secret of the “industry” is…
… that most pressure cooker recipes, and timing charts, are written for pressure cookers working under ideal conditions. Immediate heat, immediate and precise temperature control and an average predicted time for the cooker to reach pressure. In other words, they are written for pressure cookers on gas cook tops.
A reader poll taken earlier this month, revealed that over half (54%) use their pressure cookers on a gas cook top; 18% used electric and only 5% induction cook tops; about a quarter (23%) use electric pressure cookers so there’s no worry of sabotage in their kitchens!
Here are the adjustments that need to be made for pressure cooking according to the type of cook top that’s being used.
Electric and Halogen Cook Tops
Although halogen cook tops heat-up in seconds and turn off immediately, their ceramic cover does not, leaving the cookware heated by it in similar conditions as an electric coil or element: slow to heat and slow to cool – compared to gas. These are both important considerations since a pressure cooker is brought to pressure at maximum heat, and then when it reaches pressure the mechanism expects the cook to immediately turn the heat down to the lowest heat the cooker requires to maintain pressure. Not doing this could result in scorched food, or worse, the secondary pressure release valve to kick-in (which releases large plumes of vapor) to stop the pressure form building further than the cooker’s design can safely handle.
Solution: Do the switcharoo! While bringing your cooker to pressure on the largest burner, turn on a smaller burner at lower heat. When the cooker reaches pressure, gently move it from the large hot burner to the smaller low pre-heated burner and begin counting the pressure cooking time.
Induction Cook Tops
Induction cook tops can bring a cooker up to pressure 60% faster than gas – that’s in just 4 1/2 minutes instead of 11 starting with a “cold” cooker.1 The contents can boil, generate vapor, and bring the cooker pressure even before the the lid is hot!2 Once the “heat” is turned off pressure cookers on induction burners cool down 20% faster than gas (9 minutes instead of 11 – in our tests) . The mechanics and efficiency of induction cooking reduce the heat transferred to the sides and top of the cooker and concentrate it in the base. Less overall time to pressure and a smaller area of residual heat to continue cooking during natural release translates into undercooked food.
Solution: Increase the recommended pressure cooking time 2 to 3 minutes for a recipe that begins in a “cold cooker” and 1 minute for a recipe that begins in a pre-heated cooker (for example, a recipe that begins with sauteed onions). Instead, if the recipe indicates the cooker be opened with Natural Release (which uses residual heat), increase the total recommended pressure cooking time by 5 minutes . Don’t worry, your induction burner is still faster than cooking on gas since there is virtually no waiting for the cooker to come to pressure with induction.
Gas Cook Tops
For gas cook tops there is not need to take any additional steps. Simply follow recipe directions and recommended cooking times as given.
Your pressure cooker is not being sabotaged by your gas cook top!
- The 7 DO’s and DON’Ts of Pressure Cooking with Induction
- My Favorite Time-Cutting Gadgets and Tips on using, storing and cleaning them! – for induction burner buying tips.
I’m not sure you have the physics right for cooking on induction. Sidewall heating, for a stockpot type pot (like a pressure cooker) is pretty minimal for thin liquids. For thick liquids it can become an issue, and clad sidewalls can help. This is true for both pressure cooking and regular cooking. See reference below.
When the cooker is under pressure, the internal contents are, for pretty much any liquid, at temperature. For thick liquids the bottom will be higher temp, but the top is still at temp, or you wouldn’t be at pressure. So if the cooking is in 3 phases — coming up to pressure, cooking at pressure, and while cooling down, my experience (gas and induction) has been:
1. You are right about induction heating faster, leading for the need for additional time in another phase; this is also true in moving from less powerful gas stoves to more powerful ones.
2. If the time at pressure is the same, the cooking done is the same – Boyle’s law.
3. The cool down phase will also vary, with induction keeping less heat than gas, which keeps less heat than resistive electric. But the heat capacity of the thin sidewall really has nothing to do with this.
However, for the pressure cookers I’ve used, the variation in #3 also depends a lot on the pressure cooker. My fissler cooker with essentially no vapor leakage comes down MUCH slower than my old “steady steam” pressure cooker (Fagor). The difference in cool down time for different cookers is much greater than the difference between gas and induction.
My conclusion is that:
1. Cook times need to be adjusted for many things, including altitude, heat source, and cooker. I need a feel for the equipment to fine tune it through trial and error. I’ve not found the need to make big adjustments for faster boiling on induction.
2. You do need to be attentive to what you’re cooking. Viscous liquids should be heated more slowly to prevent burning. This is true for any heat source, but more pronounced on induction. But for thin liquids (i.e. beans in water), there’s no harm in turning the induction stovetop all the way up. You’ll need to adjust your cook time a little, but you can finish faster.