Unlike a slow cooker, a pressure cooker cooks tough cuts of meat in minutes, rather than hours. Add food and water, toss in a few spices and the pressure cooker applies heat and intense pressure to complete your meal. You can cook dinner recipes such as stews, chicken legs and even soups quickly and without monitoring. When you go to purchase a pressure cooker, you will find both electric and stove-top models. Before determining what is best for your needs, compare the differences between the two variants.
A stove-top pressure cooker costs less than an electric model. In fact, most basic electric models cost more than $100, while basic stove-top models do not run above $50. The more features an electric pressure cooker has, the higher its price will be. Some state-of-the-art models can cost a consumer more than $200; therefore, you should consider your budget, the features you need and how often you are going to use the cooker before opting for a more expensive model.
The old stove-top pressure cookers from the '50s were prone to accidents. The intense pressure would make a lid skyrocket off the pan and spread boiling water around the room and on anyone who was in its way. Today's stove-top pressure cookers have locking mechanisms to improve safety, but if you do not secure the lid properly, there is still a risk of an accident. An electric pressure cooker, on the other hand, secures the pot and lid in a different way. Electric pressure cookers feature an instant indicator that recognizes when a lid is unattached temporarily disabling the cooker. An electric pressure cooker also does not allow the lid to open until the temperature has dropped to a safe range and the pressure is released. Some stove-top models do not offer this feature.
With a stove-top model, you have limited options and features. A high-end stove-top pressure cooker only offers a pressure release valve and a locking lid. An electric pressure cooker offers "Start" and "Stop" buttons, temperature settings, timers and warming settings.
Depending on your cooking needs, you can probably get away with a simple stove-top unit. Electric pressure cookers take longer to cook food than stove-top units because they slowly increase the pressure and temperature. After the food is cooked, the safety lock will not let you release the steam until the entire unit has cooled to a safe temperature. Stove-top units are run under cool water in the sink while releasing the pressure, which cuts the wait time considerably. Stove-top units are also able to sear the food first, then seal and cook with pressure, while electric cookers cannot sear as efficiently. For the cook who plans on using a pressure cooker daily or with a variety of foods, however, the options and features of an electric cooker may work better than a stove-top unit.
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