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Volume II
July 30, 2004

Pressure Cooking Techniques and Timing
Desiri Wightman, RD


1. Look for the light! That's the first rule of pressure cooking, making sure the pinhole of light is visible through the vent pipe. Hold the lid up to the light and if you aren't seeing any brightness, poke the pipe with a toothpick or wire until you do.

2. Don't fill the cooker more than 2/3 full for most foods, 1/2 full for foaming foods like beans, grains, pasta, or rice.

3. Set a timer. When cooking under pressure, set the timer when your cooker reaches full pressure. Then turn off the heat when the timer goes off. Because food continues to cook while the pressure releases, timing is adjusted accordingly.

4. Release the pressure. When a recipe calls for a quick-release of pressure, follow the manufacturer's instructions to bring the pressure of the cooker down rapidly so that food isn't overcooked. Some cookers have a pressure-switch, which makes this convenient. However, running cold water over models without a switch, quickly reduces pressure in 30-60 seconds. When a recipe instructs you to release pressure naturally, leave the pot alone until the pressure is completely gone, and then remove the lid to check for doneness.

5. Don't attempt to remove the lid until all the pressure is gone! Self-explanatory.

Meat and Poultry
                For best flavor and appetizing color, brown meats before cooking. Browning caramelizes the sugars in the meat and imparts luscious flavor. However if you're pressed for time, this step isn't absolutely necessary. In a pinch, you can fake a "brown" color by basting a roast with soy sauce prior to cooking. Once cooked, no one will ever be able to guess your quick trick to your roasted meat-look and golden brown gravy. The broiler can also be used to brown up ribs, shanks or chops after pressure-cooking.
        Times in the chart below are based on using a natural pressure release. Use the amount of liquid required by your pressure cooker. If meats are frozen, add 5 minutes to the time for each inch of thickness. When cooking frozen chicken, add 1 minute for parts and 1 minute per pound for a whole bird. Frozen Turkey? Add 4 minutes per inch of thickness.

1 to 1-1/2 inches
1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches
1/2 to 1-inch thick
1 to 1-1/2 inches
1-1/2 to 2 inches
Meat and Poultry Approx. Cooking Time at Full Pressure
BEEF: Naturally release pressure unless indicated
up to 2 pounds
2-3 pounds
3-4 pounds
4-5 pounds

45 min
45-55 min
55-60 min
60-70 min
Roast 13-15 min/pound

25 min
25-35 min
Short Ribs (Flanken) 25 min
Steak, round or chuck

15-20 min
20-25 min
25-30 min
Stew meat, cubed 16 min
LAMB: Naturally release pressure unless indicated
Breast, riblets 20 min + quick release
Chops 10 min for under 1-inch
thick; 11 min for over
Leg, cubed 6 min + quick release
Neck shoulder, slices, with bone
1 inch
2-3 inches

16 min + quick release
23 min + quick release
Roast (shoulder or leg), 3 pounds 35-40 min
Shanks 25-30 min
Shoulder cubes, boneless 12-16 min
PORK: Naturally release pressure unless indicated
Ham, slices, uncooked, 1-inch thick 12 min
Ribs (with or without bone) 15 min + quick release
Roast (shoulder arm, bone-in) 14 min per pound trimmed weight
Roast (shoulder blade, boneless) 12-13 min per pound trimmed weight
Steaks or chops
1/2 to 3/4" thick
3/4-1" thick
1-1/4 to 1-1/2" thick
4-5 min
5-6 min
7-8 min
Stew meat 8 min
POULTRY: Naturally release pressure for time indicated; then quick release remaining pressure
Chicken breasts w/bone 7 min + 4 natural release
Chicken, boneless breasts, thighs 4 min + 4 natural release
Chicken, cubed, boneless 4 + natural release
Chicken, drums, thighs w/bone 8 min + 4 natural release
Cornish Hen, whole
1 pound
1-1/2 pound

6 + 6 natural release
8 + 6 natural release
Tenderloin, cubed 4 min + quick release
Turkey boneless thigh 8 min + natural release
Turkey drumstick 1 to 1-1/4 pounds 12 min + natural release
Turkey thigh w/bone
1/2-1 pound
1 to 1-1/2 pounds
Natural release on both:
12-14 min
14-16 min
Turkey, boneless breat 20 min + natural release
VEAL: Naturally release pressure
Breast (3-4 pounds) 40-50 min
Chops, steak
1/2 inch
3/4 to 1 inch

6 min
8 min
Cubed stew meat 8 min
Roast, shoulder, boneless
2-1/4 to 3 pounds
3-1/2 to 4 pounds

45 min
50-55 min
Shanks 18-20 min

The stage of ripeness, size of fruit chunks, and quality of the fruit affect the timing. Cook for the minimum time listed, then continue to cook conventionally for a short time until fruit reaches desired tenderness.

FRUIT Approx. Cooking
Time at Full Pressure;
quick release
Apples, fresh
Apples, dried
3-4 min
2 min
Apricots, fresh
Apricots, dried
2 min
4 min
Berries, cherries 0 min (bring to pressure,
remove from heat
Figs, dried 6 min
Peach halves, fresh
Peaches, dried
2-3 min
4 min
Pear halves, fresh
Pears, dried
3-4 min
4 min
Prunes, dried 5-6 min
Raisins 5 min

For crisp-tender vegetables, steam vegetables over a rack with the minimum water needed by your pressure cooker for a brief amount of time. Release the pressure quickly to avoid overcooking. If vegetables are too crunchy, replace the lid without locking and continue to cook conventionally until tender.

Fresh Vegetables Approx. Cooking
Time at Full Pressure;
quick release
Artichoke, small
4-5 min
6-8 min
Asparagus 1-2 min
Beans, green/yellow 2-3 min
Beets, small, whole
-large, whole
12-14 min
25-28 min
Broccoli 2-3 min
Brussel sprouts 3 min
Cabbage, shredded
2-3 min
5 min
Carrots, sliced or baby 4-5 min
Califlower, flowerets
1 min
4-5 min
Collards, chopped 3-4 min
Corn on the cob 5 min
Eggplant, cubed 2-3 min
Parsnips, 1-inch chunks 5-6 min
Potatoes, sweet or yams
-2-inch chunks
-1-1/2 inch slices

8-10 min
4-5 min
Potatoes, whole
-large (8-10 oz)
-medium (5-6 oz)
-small (2-3 oz)
-new (1 oz)
-1-inch chunks
-1/2-inch slices

26-30 min
15 min
10 min
5-6 min
7-9 min
5-6 min
Spinach, Chard, Greens 1 min
Squash, acorn 6-7 min
Squash, summer/zucchini 0 min, bring to pressure, remove from heat
Squash, winter, 1-1/2" chunks 3-4 min
Turnips, rutabagas, cubed 7-8 min

It's a snap to serve beans for dinner, even if you forgot to soak them. The pressure cooker makes fine work of tenderizing these hearty legumes to perfect tenderness. If, by chance, you remembered to soak your beans, then cut the time shown here in half. Use 2 cups water per cup of beans, and avoid using salt during the initial cooking process as it toughens the bean skin. Never fill your cooker more than 1/3-1/2 full and always add 1 tablespoon oil to prevent foaming beans from clogging the steam vent. Release the pressure naturally to keep the bean skins intact and to finish off the cooking process.

Age, humidity, and type of bean all affect cooking times, so your beans will cook differently each time you whip up a batch. To test for doneness, cut through a bean with a knife. If it is uniform in color, the beans are tender. If not, continue cooking conventionally until it a bean passes the knife test. After cooking, rinse the lid and pot well to remove excess starch, skins, or foam that could clog the vents.

Beans (1 cup dried)
Approx. Time with
natural pressure release
Adzuki 16-21 min
Black (turtle) 22-25 min
Black-eyed peas 6-8 min
Cannellini 28-32
Chickpeas 32-35 min
Great Northern 25-30 min
Kidney 25-30 min
Lentils 1-5 min (natural release for 8 min; then quick release; red lentils-quick release only)
Lime (large) 9-10 min (use 2 T oil/cup of beans
Navy 22-25 min
Pinto 19-22 min
Small red beans 26-30 min
(use 2 T oil/cup of beans)
28-35 min
32-37 min
Split peas 10-12 min

To reduce foaming, melt 1 tablespoon butter in cooker and stir in grains to coat before adding water. Never fill the cooker more than half full, and if the grains are underdone after pressure release, simply cook conventionally for a few more minutes.

Grains (1 cup) Approx. Time with
natural pressure release
Amaranth 4 min (1-1/2 to *1-3/4 cup water)
-pearled, pot
3 cups water
35-40 min
16-20 min
Brown rice 25 min (1-1/2 to *1-3/4 cups water)
Buckwheat 4 min (1-3/4 cup water)
Kamut 40-50 min (3 cups water)
Millet 12 min (1-3/4 to 2 cups water)
Quinoa 1 min (1-1/2 cups water)
Risotto 6-7 min (2-1/4 cups water)
Rye berries 25-30 min (3 cups water)
Spelt 35-45 min (3 cups water)
White rice 5-6 min (1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups water)**
Wild rice 22-25 min (3 cups water)
Wheat berries 35-45 min (3 cups water)

*Recommended water for jiggle-top pressure cookers.
**Stir in 1/2 tsp. salt, if desired. For 2 cups dried rice, use 3 cups liquid, 1 tsp. salt. For 3 cups dried rice, use 4-1/4 cups liquid, 1-1/2 tsp. salt. For 4 cups dried rice, use 5 cups liquid, 2 tsp. salt.

         * DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *

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