I have always had a fascination with and a fear of pressure cookers. My mother and grandmother both used them when I was young. I saw the caution with which they used them and heeded their warnings to stand back when instructed to do so. So, despite the fact that I cook a lot, using a pressure cooker was something I was always afraid to do.
The beauty of using a pressure cooker is that it cooks food at a much higher temperature than what is achievable in conventional cookware. The lid of a pressure cooker fits tightly so that steam builds up inside, thereby increasing internal pressure which enables the temperature to rise above the boiling point of water (specifically, to about 257 degrees Fahrenheit). As a full-time working mom, faster cooking time is highly appealing.
This fall, I found a Presto 6-quart stainless steel pressure cooker on clearance so I decided to take my chances. Risking life and limb, I hacked up a pumpkin and filled up the pressure cooker, and after reading the instructions about seventeen times (I wanted to get it right) I commenced to use it. Fifteen minutes later I had a pile of pumpkin puree without incident.
Using the Presto pressure cooker is practically foolproof. The instructions are complete and easy to read and follow. Also included is a list of foods with the amount of time it will take to cook them.
The Presto pressure cooker's six quart capacity is big enough to fit quite a few vegetables, a large roast and even some pint canning jars. It has a jiggler on top, which is a weight that lets steam escape slowly. On the downside, is fairly loud and if you are not careful a lot of steam can escape, which could be problematic with long cooking times as you may run out of water in the pot.
Overall, I would recommend a Presto pressure cooker, especially for trepidatious beginners. With the gardening season around the corner, I am looking forward to using this pressure cooker a lot more.