On the box my Aroma Turbo Rice Cooker came in it says that my pressure cooker holds 2 to 8 cups of food. That number is rather misleading because it doesn’t take into account the amount of empty space needed for the pressure cooker to come to pressure.
Most pressure cookers recommend not filling them more that 2/3’s full. This includes all the ingredients and liquids combined. They also recommend not filling the pressure cooker more than 1/2 full if you are cooking things that expand in volume like, legumes, rice, and other grains.
If you aren’t sure what 2/3s of your pressure cooker is simply take the number of cups your pressure cooker holds and multiply it by .66. For example, my pressure cooker holds 8 cups of food. 8 x .66 = 5.26. My pressure cooker holds a maximum of 5 1/4 cups of food. I know that doesn’t seem like much until you realize that all my recipes are for 2 -3 people. I rarely cook more than 5 cups of food at a time.
So why does all this matter? A pressure cooker needs a certain amount of empty space in order to come to pressure. If it doesn’t have that empty space your pressure cooker never comes up to pressure and your food never cooks. If you over fill your pressure cooker with ingredients that expand, you can possibly clog the pressure release value and cause other safety mechanisms to malfunction at best or shoot scalding hot liquids out the pressure release valve when you quick release your food. This could cause severe burns. According to my research, the most common reason for malfunctioning pressure cookers or injury to a cook is over filling your pressure cooker. Yeah, I learned this one from personal experience. I wasn’t burned but it was an absolutely awful mess to clean up. Since I have learned about maximum fill lines I haven’t had any more accidents.
This week’s recipe is for a simple refried beans. Since I got my pressure cooker I have stopped buying cans of cooked beans and started buying bags of dry beans. Cooking beans is one of the places that pressure cookers really shine. I hardly ever cooked dried beans because I don’t usually have 60 minutes to 3 hours to cook an ingredient before I even start cooking a meal. In the pressure cooker, most soaked beans cook in under a half hour and most unsoaked beans cook in under an hour. Go to Hip Pressure Cooking for a list of beans and their pressure cooking times both soaked and unsoaked.
1/2 tsp canola oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/4 tsp cumin
1 cup pinto beans, soaked
1 cup water
In a small frying pan, saute the onions, until soft, 2-4 minutes. Add the onions and the remaining ingredients to the pressure cooker liner. Bring to pressure on high and cook 7-10 minutes. Open with a natural release. Sprinkle beans with 1/2 tsp salt. Mash the beans with a potato masher until the desired consistency is reached.