Objective: Students will be able to plan a three part meal which can be cooked in the pressure cooker at one time, adjust recipes so that cooking times for all parts of the meal are the same, and describe ways the pressure cooker saves time and energy.
Equipment and Supplies: Pressure Cooker instruction manuals · Pressure Cooker cookbooks · Copies of the worksheet "Meal-in-One".
The Lesson: One of the handiest advantages of pressure cooking is being able to prepare an entire meal at one time, in only one pot. By using the cooking rack to keep certain foods out of the cooking liquid, each food retains its own individual flavor.
Ideally you should select foods which require the same cooking time when planning a pressure cooker meal-in-one. Have the class consult pressure cooker recipes to compile a list of foods in each category--entree, vegetable, and dessert--which require the same pressure cooking time.
Also discuss various ways foods can be prepared in order to adjust the cooking time. The size of the food pieces, for example, will affect the cooking time. One-half inch slices of potato cook in 3 minutes, while three-quarter inch slices take 5 minutes. So, you can adjust cooking times by cutting foods into larger or smaller pieces.
It's also possible to quick cool a pressure cooker at a strategic point during the cooking process and add additional foods to the cooker. Just be sure pressure is completely reduced before opening the cover. Add the new foods, replace the cover and pressure regulator. Bring the pressure cooker back up to pressure with the regulator rocking slowly. Time the remaining cooking time from this point.
Distribute copies of the handout, "Meal-in-One". Have the students study the handout, then ask them to plan their own meal-in-one. Ask them to compute the total cooking time for the meal using the pressure cooking method, then compare it with the time it would take to prepare the meal by other cooking methods. They should estimate the number of minutes surface burners and ovens are in use with each method, counting the minutes for each heat source separately and adding them together for the total. Discuss the implications of fuel conservation in preparing meals-in-one.
Follow Up: If time and budget permit, students should select meals to prepare in class.
Create posters which explain ways to save time using the pressure cooking method.
The pressure cooker is especially suited for cooking where fuel is limited. For example, camping and boating enthusiasts often cook on alcohol stoves. They have also found the meal-in-one facility of pressure cooking a real asset because it eliminates the need for carrying and storing additional pots and pans. Have students prepare meal-in-one menus for camping or boating.
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