I've to'd and fro'd over getting a pressure cooker for a long time. They can do wonders with cheap cuts of meat and often cook things cheaper and faster than ordinary cooking could.
However, I have natural fear of things exploding in my face. I remember my mother's pressure cooker rocking away on the stove when I was growing up, and I hated the thing. Wouldn't go near it. She's be standing there working out how many pounds of pressure to apply to whatever was going to be cooked and fiddling with the valve. Urg. Run away. Now of course technology has moved on. All of the pressures and times are already programmed in, and it's as simple as add the ingredients, choose the programme, hit start and walk away. And they can bring down your electric bill as well, as they are cheaper than using gas and electric to cook with.
At the moment, we have an Neff touch control ceramic hob to cook with, which can use up to 2.2kW per burner per hour (with the oven at 4.8kW), and is pushing our bills up massively. Finally after seeing yet another £60+ monthly electric bill come in on Friday and knowing I had wiggle room in the budget as I had no council tax to pay this month, I steeled myself and bought one, a multi-function six litre 20-in-1 model. I figured if I was going to get one I might as well spent the extra on the additional functions and see just how much of the daily cooking I can do with it.
According to the blurb it has:
- 5 ways to cook: Pressure Cook, Slow Cook, Steam, Fry and Multi Cook.
- 14 pre-set functions for: Meat, Fish, Stew/Soup, Veg, Cereals, Pasta, Rice, Cake, Bake, Crispy, Pizza, Egg, Yoghurt and Jam.
- 24-Hour Delay Timer
- Cooks from frozen – cook a whole chicken straight from the freezer in just 60 minutes
That really settled it for me, especially cooking joints from frozen. Also, I have a lot of meat in the freezer which I often bypass because it will take too long to cook, such as stewing beef. I have to remember to get it in the slow cooker in the morning to have a decent meal ready by the evening, and I've been so busy I often just don't manage to do that.
I managed to do a beef in red wine stew last night in 30 minutes flat, and then this morning I made bacon and eggs using the fry function. I have lentil soup for my lunches this week, which is currently cooking (in 20 minutes!) and then I'm going to cook up a whole load of potatoes for mash to portion for the freezer, which should take 15 minutes as well. Later on, I'm going for a hunt in the freezer for a frozen chicken I know is in there and that will do for our dinner tonight. Then tomorrow the chicken bones and a large beef rib marrow bone are going in there to make stock. Normally it takes me a good 24 hours in a slow cooker to make really good gelatinous stock, so I'm hoping to get an equivalent stock in under an hour.
But what of my money-saving halogen oven? I still have that, but it is sitting very forlorn in a box in the corner of the kitchen. Andrew James replaced the lid of it free of charge within it's warranty period, as the metal inside had gone rusty. I changed its bulb last year and used it for a very short period of time before the bulb went again. I haven't done anything with it since we moved. While the bulbs are relatively cheap at about £7, it took two of us to change it and it was a hair-raising experience that involved brute force at one point and electrical tape. We both looked at each other afterwards as if to say "should it really have been that hair-raising? If so, maybe a consumer shouldn't be doing it?" I'm also not sure if our fumbling was the reason the bulb went so shortly afterwards.
Now, the halogen oven is a 1300w product and can cook things 30-40% quicker than a normal fan oven, hence it being money-saving, so by my calculation using the 1000w digital pressure cooker should save even more money. I can also steam veg and pasta in the pressure cooker, which you can't really do using a halogen cooker, and supposedly bake and make jam. I will be testing that last one shortly, as I have two tins of Mamade in the cupboard to make marmalade with. However, one disadvantage is that I can't cook anything dry, like roast potatoes, chips/wedges or garlic bread so I will order another halogen oven bulb and see if by combining it with the digital pressure cooker I can bring down the electric bill.
I shall report back at the end of March, although I won't be able to get a full picture until the middle of April, as our electric billing period runs from the middle of the month.