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Friday, June 3, 2011

How to Cook Rice In a Pressure Cooker

Did you know you can cook rice in a pressure cooker? Yes, it's possible and I've been doing it for years. I learned about pressure cooked rice way back when I studied and practiced macrobiotics. I finally got a pressure cooker in the mid 90's and it's been my preferred method to cook rice ever since.

First you need to choose the kind of rice you want to cook. I cook brown rice or a mixture of white and brown short grain rice when having company over since a lot of people "think" they don't like brown rice :) I say "think" because once they try it pressure cooked most can't tell the difference between the two.

The brown rice has so many nutritional benefits to it (vitamins B1, B3, B6, iron, manganese, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus the bran for fiber and the germ for essential fatty acids) it's a shame that it's not easier to find in restaurants. Left intact it is a whole grain and a complex (good) carbohydrate, like oatmeal. It's a bit chewier and more flavorful than white rice. (A great description about brown vs. white rice is HERE)

The one drawback of brown rice (vs. white rice) is that because it still contains the healthy essential fatty acids it will go rancid. But there's a simple fix: Just store your uncooked rice in the fridge rather than the cupboard to help preserve it. I've stored it this way for years with no problems.

White rice is more common but isn't nearly as beneficial from a nutritional standpoint. Not only are a large percentage of some, and all of other nutrients and bran fiber stripped away, it also becomes a simple (bad) carbohydrate in the process.

An easy way to begin incorporating brown rice into your diet is by mixing half brown and half white and cooking them together. I use a bit more water than if I were cooking all white rice and it comes out just fine. You may have to cook it this way a time or two to figure out if you need a little more or less water but once you have the measurement worked out you'll be set.

Begin by washing the rice. I use organic, short grain, brown rice by Lundberg Farms.

I love my plastic rice strainer. It makes it super easy to wash the rice without spilling any down the sink. You can purchase them at Asian markets and
I use a ceramic pot called a rice crock to cook my rice in for three reasons:
  1. It makes it super easy to clean the pressure cooker because the rice never touches the inside of the cooker.
  2. I can store the cooked rice in the rice crock pot after it's cooked.
  3. It stops the sticky rice bubbles/foam from the rice cooking in the simmering water from clogging up the steam release valve.
I prefer my rice to not be sticky so I use a cup of rice to 1 1/4 cups of water with a pinch of salt inside the rice crock pot.

If you don't use a rice crock you would add the rice with water directly to the pressure cooker.

If you don't use a rice crock you will want to use a flame tamer (also called a heat diffuser) placed between the bottom of the pressure cooker and your burner. Here are two examples above and below.

The heat diffuser keeps the rice from cooking to the inside of the metal pressure cooker. They are inexpensive and last a long time.

If you use an rice crock you will fill the pressure cooker with a bit of water. I add about an inch and a half of water to the metal pressure cooker then place my rice crock inside the cooker.

Close the lid and turn the heat to high.

The water in the pot will begin to boil creating steam. Soon the rice crock will start clanging around as the water in the pressure cooker begins to boil.

As the steam builds the red pressure gauge will pop up and will look like this.

In less than a minute or two the steam valve will release the excess steam by hissing and spinning. Once the valve begins spinning I wait a minute and push down on the red button to make sure the pressure gauge is firmly in the upright position. Once established I turn the heat down to low and cook the rice for 50 minutes. (The time will be less if not using a rice crock) My best advice here: USE A TIMER.

If you lose track of the time the water will eventually all evaporate out of the steam release valve. If you've used a rice crock I'm guessing it may break from the build up of direct heat and if you put the rice directly into the pressure cooker it will burn. It's a mess. I did that once. You only make that mistake once.

When the cooking time is up I remove the cooker from the burner and allow it to cool until the red pressure gauge falls back down towards the lid. I let it rest for around 10 minutes or so then remove the rice crock from the pressure cooker using the handle of a wooden spoon to catch the rope rice crock handle with to lift it out of the pressure cooker.

I then allow it to sit for another 10-15 minutes before removing the lid to serve lightly tossing and fluffing the rice in the crock at this time.

The process takes about an hour and a half from start to finish. You will end up with a perfect pot of rice every time.

If you want to cook other types of rice (i.e. long grain, basmati, etc.) be sure to go online and look for the proper cooking time, water ration and end steaming recommendations. They will vary from rice to rice.

More fun with short grain brown rice:

Brown Rice Okayu (porridge)

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