Prep Tools

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Prep Tools


Once you get used to the speed of pressure cooking the prep 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.

If you’re planning to make your purchases on amazon.com, anyway, please shop through the links, below, to support your favorite pressure cooking website – at no extra cost to you!

Prep time-savers

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.


Digital Scale
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!

19 Comments

  1. Oh wow, now I’m wondering if the induction burner would work for canning? My flat top electric stove is awful for bringing the canner to a boil so I’ve been using my husband’s propane burners outside that he uses for brewing beer.

    I love everything else on your list. Which reminds me, I need a new mandolin. My Pampered Chef version lasted 10 years but is now starting to show its age.

  2. Thank you for your most informative post. Of course now that we are cooking faster and more efficiently with our pressure cookers, we have an abundance of food in our homes! Fridge and freezer full all the time now. I think the next logical step would be to get a food dehydrator and vacuum sealer to store all this food. Or start giving it away. I took your tomato soup into work and everyone loved it!

  3. That’s a great idea, but I don’t know if there is a weight limit for what you can put on that burner and, most importantly, if a canner is induction compatible!!

    I noticed some induction burners also come with a “compatibility plate” – a piece of metal which in turn heats up your pan (an induction hot plate!)

    Ciao,

    L

  4. miss tammy, oh yes… I’ve had to reduce the quantities of food because no one wants to eat left-overs when re-heatig them takes as long as making something fresh.

    Great suggestions!

    Ciao,

    L

  5. I switched to induction when renovating the kitchen – best money spent by far, especially for pressure cooking. I also gained space for a stove width shallow drawer underneath the cooktop because induction units are ridiculously thin.
    The other benefit was one that looked like a drawback at first: I had to buy new pots. Now I have a set of heavy duty stainless steel pots that are easy to clean and will last a lifetime.

  6. Remember, an induction stove will only work if the pressure cooker is made of steel or contains steel in it’s base !!

    1. Thanks for the reminder Stella! Looking for the induction-safe symbol, pictured above, should take care of that!

      Ciao,

      L

  7. not completely sold on this after reading reviews, but I did put the Fagor on my wish list.

    1. Karen, when I popped over to the US this summer, I got to use the Fagor portable induction burner and I found it much higher quality than the “cheap” higher-wattage one I have at home. The key is to use quality cookware (which your pressure cooker is). I have cheap stainless steel pans that are induction compatible and they take longer to heat-up plus they make lots of “humming” and “cricket”-type noises (this happens with all induction burners).

      Let me know if I can answer any more questions.

      Ciao,

      L

      P.S. I made popcorn in my pressure cooker base on induction for the first time, last weekend, and literally the kernels started to pop within three minutes – probably less. Amazing!!!

  8. I just bought the Fagor 3-in-1 Digital electric Pressure Cooker. After doing research and waiting about 18 months to decide, it arrived yesterday. I cooked Garlic Honey Chicken in it last night. It took 8 minutes and my family loved dinner! I am in love with this appliance already. I don’t get home from work at a set time, any two nights in a row. It ranges from 4:30 – 6:30 pm. I love the fact that no matter what time I get home, I can make a wonderful, nutritious dinner on-the-spot. I can even do a hearty pot roast in less than 15 minutes! Cannot wait. Right up there with my Cuisinart stand mixer for pure appliance love!

  9. I have a cheaper 1000 watt induction burner and am getting a stovetop pressure cooker this week.

    My question is should I use the induction burner or the stove, I like the induction burner because you can set the time, but often I use the stove due to small kitchen.

    I don’t care which takes longer, More which is more reliable/convenient.

    Helen

    1. Helen, I haven’t used a 1000 watt induction but it could be that the lesser wattage will mean the “heat” it generates is not as intense. You’ll have to experiment with what works best for you. You might want to try cooking the same dish (say a yummy risotto) on each and see what works best.

      Ciao,

      L

  10. I tried out a single hob induction burner which I got very cheap in the post Xmas sales.
    It was 2000 wat job which I thought would be perfect. It wasn’t. The issue was maintaining pressure not reaching it. The cooker changed power levels in ~200W steps. Even at the lowest level (500W nominal) pressure would still increase. It also has a temperature control. This went lower, but the setting was too coarse to be of any use.

    It was also imprecise. When I set it to 100°C, I expected it to maintain a rolling boil with an unpressurized pot as local boiling point is about 96°. It didnt. It didn’t even maintain a simmer. When I checked the temperature of the water with a calibrated thermometer, it was maintaining 79° +-4 Now I know it is measuring the temperature outside the water. But 20° variance? Incidentally I measered the watts used. It was pretty much spot on according to my uncalibrated meter. So at least they got that right. If they only had better control on the power and temperature, it would be useful. As it is, meh!

  11. I recently bought a new inverter microwave which seems to cook much faster, but much messier. Stuff splattered everywhere.

    Bought a plastic microwave plate cover finally, which lives inside so I don’t forget. Might be the best $2 I ever spent. Any splatters are on the cover instead of all over the microwave and the food reheats/defrosts more evenly.

    In more than a month I have had 2 spots on the tray and none on the walls/ceiling of the microwave.

  12. I recently bought a small 6 cup food processor. I use it so often it has its own counter space in my very small kitchen.
    Much faster than my mandolin I find and just as easy to assemble/clean. Bigger of course, but for any quantity much faster.

  13. Being a gadget/appliance junkie I bought (with trepidation), a cordless Cuisinart stick blender.

    Very happy so far. Not as powerful as my 300 watt Braun stick blender but I pureed some beets for soup in less than a minute. Rutabaga maybe took a minute and ½ but was a bit elderly.

    For soups and applesauce etc. it is much faster. I pureed my chipotle corn chowder in less time than it would take me to get the corded Braun ready to go. And the attachment(s) are firmly locked in place so they don’t fall off in the soup.

    I am sure it isn’t as nice as the newer Braun cordless ones, (I am a big Braun fan) but at ¼ the price it is better than good enough.

  14. Oster makes a fabulous stick blender with a mini-chopper and a beaker for a reasonable price (uner $30 US). I had my first one for over a decade, using it quite regularly. It finally died and I bought another, which I still use all the time and it holds up great. I bought a Braun food processor (FP 3010) for less than $80 on Amazon on sale. I use it every day. It is the best food processor I have ever had as it has so many gadgets to do just about anything and I can’t imagine what it was like without it. I had a mandolin and did not like it so I gave it to a friend of mine. It was far more time consuming and tedious. I have a Nesco electric PC and it also gets used every single day. Tonight I made potato salad in it (cooked the farm fresh eggs for 4 minutes on top of the chopped potatoes) and the eggs were perfect, as were the potatoes. Start to finish the potato salad was done in under 30 minutes. I thin the dressing to the consistency of cream and add it while everything is hot and put it in the fridge to chill and it is perfect for dinner. Use extra dressing if you do this as it sucks it up like crazy so the flavor is really good.

  15. My FIL buys me stuff from TV all the time. I have a cabinet full of single – use garbage. I was mocking a friend about his chopping gadget. “Do you find knives scary?” Then I used it and fell in love. Of course, it was a “get two for the price of one” deal.Guess what I got for Christmas? It has a base to catch the food and a coarse grid and a fine grid. You put the food over the grid, swing down the top and bam! Diced onions. I have a food processor and excellent knife skills , but this saves a ton of time. I expect it will break in a couple of years. I will buy another when mine goes kaput.

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