Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pressure Cookery Onboard

Vero Beach

Libby said that as a child she saw a pressure cooker explode in her mother's kitchen, causing a God awful mess. For that reason, she has been hostile to the idea of pressure cookers her whole life. Last year, I forced the issue by buying her a modern pressure cooker for Christmas. The modern cookers have so many safety features that it's hard to imagine one exploding.

In the past year, we have had one pleasant surprise after another using the pressure cooker. It is an eminently suitable appliance to use on board a boat. Tarwathie has a stove with 2 burners and an oven, but many people have less; often no oven. For them especially, a pressure cooker would be very useful.

The first thing we tried in the cooker was manna; our 15 bean soup. It worked very well. A pressure cooker cooks almost anything in much less time than a traditional pot.

Next, we tried making bread in the pressure cooker. It took a few tries to get it right, but now we learned. It works for us much better than oven baked bread. So whenever we want, we can make homemade fresh bread on board. One problem not solved yet is preservatives. Store bought bread lasts for many days before going stale, but our homemade bread turns hard in less than 24 hours. Do any readers know how to solve that?

We also found that many meat dishes taste much better when pressure cooked rather than roasted in the oven. Meat roasted in our oven tends comes out too dry. Even a turkey or a chiken cooked in the pressure cooker comes out very tasty.

There's a lot more that we haven't tried yet. Stews, pot pies, dumplings. However, we're reasonably confident that they'll be successful using the pressure cooker.

As I mentioned yesterday, the pressure cooker also allows us to cook larger batches of food. Our normal rule on the boat is "no leftovers" from any meal. We just don't have room in the refrigerator for leftovers. By and large, that's the reason why I slowly but surely continue to gain weight on board despite an active lifestyle. Libby uses me as the no leftover enforcer. I have to eat up everything in sight, including often half of her portion. Our cooker holds 8 quarts, a generous size.

Anyhow, when we heat the pressure cooker to boiling temperature, then seal the lid, we're satisfied that the contents are sterilized and also well sealed from the external environment. That means we can store leftovers in the cooker and take several days to eat them up, reheating the pan every day.


  1. To keep Bread Soft:
    Ideally, you'd want to store the bread in the freezer (colder than your freezer). Since that is not really an option, use a thick plastic bag, remove as much air as possible, and seal the bag well enough so more air doesn't get in. Air will dry it out, as will putting bread in the fridge.
    This won't solve the problem, but will help at least! Another suggestion is to brush the crust with butter before it cools.

  2. we are trying the 15 bean soup today ! thanks for the tips !

  3. I am assuming that you do not use eggs or oil in your bread recipes. Doing so will keep the bread moist a few days longer. The fat helps retain moisture. Good sailing and good eating!


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