Boiling Versus Steaming Vegetables in a Pressure Cooker
We cooks who have used traditional cooking methods for years are used to immersing food in water and boiling until tender... carrots, or potatoes or vegetables of various sorts. We've even done that with meat and chicken. And then we poured all those good nutrients and vitamins that were cooked out of the food down the drain. We've even used steamers from time to time. Where did that insert go?
The proper way to cook veggies is to clean them and try to make sure they are somewhat uniform in size so that they cook in about the same amount of time. For example, you may wish to cube potatoes or slice carrots. (Note the tip on salvaging your food should your first try turn out badly.)
First add the desired amount of water to the pot. Refer to your manual for estimated amounts of water for the desired period of cooking time. One-half to two-thirds cup of water is generally sufficient. (If you live at a higher altitude, you will need to adjust the time and water as it takes longer to heat water at higher levels.)
The cooking time for most vegetables is one to four minutes.
· Asparagus - two minutes
· Whole green beans - two to three minutes
· Broccoli, chopped, florets or spears - two minutes
· Kernel Corn - one minute
· Medium whole onions - two to three minutes
· White potatoes, cubed - five minutes
If the vegetables are frozen, add a minute or two. The water need not touch the vegetables but should be sufficient to pressure steam the vegetables while they are cooking.
Place the prepared vegetables into the basket or rack that comes with the pressure cooker, or even that little-used collapsible steamer basket, and place the basket into the cooker. Close the lid and bring to full pressure, usually the high (15 psi) pressure setting. Once the cooker has reached full pressure you need to time the process. Don't stray from the kitchen now as the time is extremely short and you don't want to burn or overcook. Use a cold water release method to retain crispness.
Season and serve. Vegetables will retain their vibrant colors and taste better than you've ever experienced. Your family and guests might even begin to like vegetables!
Don't despair should you have added too much water or overcooked those vegetables, don't just throw them away. You can make a wonderful homemade stock for use in your next soup or stew. Add more vegetables, even some of the skins, stems and peelings from your vegetable preparation, add flavorings such as thyme, rosemary and bay leaves, onions, and so on, add water to cover and pressure cook for an additional 20 minutes. Be sure you do not exceed the maximum fill line in your pressure cooker. Let the pressure drop naturally. Strain and discard the vegetables, retaining the stock in your refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for 3 months.
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