1. Safety Features
When using an electric pressure cooker, your safety should be of paramount importance. The main reason is that pressure cookers usually become very hot and contain high pressure superheated steam inside. If any mishap were to happen, you could suffer severe burns.
Therefore, the pressure cooker should have mechanisms in place to contain the pressure in a safe environment. Look for safety features such as release valves, pressure indicators, secure lid locks, release vents, and tight-fitting lids that do not open when there is still pressure inside.
2. Materials of Construction
There are two materials used to make pressure cookers. These are stainless steel and aluminum. These two have different properties and affordability. Aluminum electric pressure cookers are the least expensive of the two although they are less durable too.
Aluminum is a great conductor of heat but tends to stain and warp more in the process of cooling. On the other hand, stainless steel is heavier, distributes heat more and is the most expensive of the two.
For electric pressure cookers, you are better off with a stainless steel product. They are not reactive as aluminum, hence no changes in the food flavors.
3. Pressure Cooker Capacity
Size matters a lot when choosing an electric pressure cooker. It determines how much food you can prepare at a time. To put it in perspective, when you have a large family to prepare a meal for, then you would need a pressure cooker larger than 8 quarts.
For smaller families, the size should be smaller. There is a drawback to increased size. A bigger sized pressure cooker takes longer to generate enough steam and pressure to start the cooking process. Pressure accumulation occurs at a slower pace, but when it does, you will have delicious food for your whole family.
4. Stay Away from Nonstick Inner Pots
Nonstick surfaces are only great for pans but not for pressure cookers. Even when used on pans, you are advised not to expose them to too high temperatures. Since pressure cookers operate under extreme pressures and temperatures, this nonstick layer would simply peel off and become ineffective after a while.
Another reason to avoid nonstick accessories is the difficulty of cleaning them. In the end, layers of food start to build upon the surface of the pot, reducing its efficiency after a while.
5. Should be Dishwasher Suitable
Some buyers tend to overlook this feature when buying a kitchen accessory. For a pressure cooker, it becomes even more necessary to be able to wash the parts in dishwater. Note that it is the accessories and the lid that should be washed and not the housing with the electrical components.
If you cannot use a dishwasher to clean it, you would have to spend hours scrubbing the parts once you are done with the cooking. And it is this time that you don’t have in the first place.
6. Heat-Resistant Handles
Although often ignored, handles are important in ensuring your safety when preparing a meal. Superheated steam makes the whole housing very hot at times that it may spill over to the handles if you do not take care.
You run the risk of suffering burns if the handles become too hot and then you hold onto them. For a user-friendly cooker, insist on a heat-resistant handle.
7. Additional Features
Other features improve your overall user experience. An example is cooking programs. If you want a variety of preset cooking programs, then look for one with the most inbuilt programs, provided it meets the other criteria.
Other options have instructions and recipe booklets for your convenience. A manual would be helpful if it’s your first time using an electric pressure cooker. Nonetheless, the guides and recipes effectively get you started on your meal preparation.
Cooking racks and steamer baskets help you separate foods into two. You are then able to prepare two meals at a time, hence saving on time.