Burnt food is not only difficult to clean but also a hassle to deal with. Unlike with pans where we can monitor and stir the food to prevent burning, it’s not as simple when using a pressure cooker.
Pressure cookers cook food at high pressure and in a vacuum, making it impossible to check on the food as it cooks. This often results in charring and a burnt pressure cooker bottom.
Based on my 15 years of experience in pressure cooking, I have gathered some tried and tested tips to help you avoid burnt pressure cooker bottoms and food.
1. Fix Leaking Pressure Cookers
Adding enough liquid when cooking is crucial. If your pressure cooker is leaking steam, the added liquid won’t be sufficient. The cooker will lose all the water as steam, eventually causing the food to burn. Refer to a detailed guide on identifying and fixing pressure cooker leaks.
2. Use Sufficient Liquid
To create pressure when cooking, it’s essential to have plenty of liquid in the pressure cooker. Insufficient liquid leads to a charred and burnt bottom. The usual ratio is 1.5 cups of water for every cup of rice or lentils being cooked. Water provides moisture and regulates the cooking temperature. Without enough water, proper temperature and moisture regulation won’t occur, resulting in burnt food. Make sure to add enough water as per the recipe.
3. Avoid Overcooking
Many of us are guilty of leaving the pressure cooker on the stove for too long. Overcooking beyond the recommended time can lead to a burnt bottom. A simple fix is to set an alarm for the cooking time and consult the manual of your pressure cooker for specific cooking durations.
4. Deglaze the Pot
When adding the cooking liquid, always deglaze the pot using a spatula. This means scraping off any food bits stuck to the base. Since the bottom of the pressure cooker gets extremely hot, any food stuck to it has a higher chance of burning.
5. Don’t Overfill the Cooker
Overfilling the pressure cooker puts pressure on the grains at the bottom, causing them to burn. As the bottom is the hottest part of the cooker, food closest to it is more likely to burn. Fill the pressure cooker only up to two-thirds of its capacity.
6. Avoid Thick Liquids
Pressure cooking is best suited for runny liquids like water or broth, as they don’t burn quickly. If you use a thick sauce without adding enough water to reduce its consistency, it will burn.
7. Opt for a Thick Base Cooker
Using a pressure cooker with a thick base reduces the likelihood of burning. A thick base regulates the heat that reaches the bottom of the cooker, ensuring even heat distribution and preventing overheating. Thick base pressure cookers are also suitable for all cooking surfaces, including induction and stovetops.
8. Beware of High Starch Content
Food items rich in starch, such as rice and potatoes, are more prone to burning. To avoid this, consider using a cooking utensil inside the pressure cooker. Place the food in a separate container and then put it in the pressure cooker. Add water to the base to generate steam for cooking the food.
9. Ensure Adequate Liquid Coverage
When cooking recipes, make sure the water or broth reaches the bottom of the pan. If you’re cooking potatoes, stir them to ensure there’s water between the potatoes and the pressure cooker base.
10. Adjust Heat Levels
Cover the pressure cooker base well with the gas flame. If the flame is too big, it will burn the base and sides of the pressure cooker. Once the pressure is reached, lower the gas flame or heat. This will allow the food to cook thoroughly without burning.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your pressure cooker meals are perfectly cooked without any burnt bottoms. Happy pressure cooking!