Pressure cooking is a tried and tested way of cooking healthy meals in a shorter than usual time. But for those that want even less of a wait for dinner, there's now an even quicker version: the microwave pressure cooker.
The new gadget is available in the UK for the first time from Lakeland, which is selling it for £34.99. Made from toughened plastic, it slots into a standard microwave - something that would cause an explosion if a traditional metal pressure cooker were used.
And because a microwave heats the contents up more quickly than a hob, the new gadget cuts even more from the cooking time. A steamed sponge, for example, takes an hour and three quarters to cook with traditional methods, but just five minutes with the new device.
Meanwhile, marmalade takes just 15 minutes cooking time, and a traditional beef casserole just 20 minutes. The French pork dish cassoulet - which normally takes five hours' slow cooking - needs just 35 minutes in the microwave pressure cooker.
"Enabling you to cook 'proper' food quickly and healthily, our Microwave Pressure Cooker combines the convenience of microwave cooking with the speed and nutrient-retaining efficiency of pressure cooking to produce deliciously nutritious meals with much less hassle than pots and pans on the hob," says Lakeland.
Pressure cookers work by reaching a higher temperature than is possible with conventional cooking. Trapped steam increases the pressure within the pot, which causes water to boil at a higher temperature than its normal 100°C.
As a result, pressure cookers generally cut cooking times by as much as 70%. And because very little water's needed, vitamins and minerals are retained, making pressure cooking a healthy choice as well as a quick one.
But the microwave pressure cooker may soon have competition from a completely new type of cooking device that's also claimed to deliver healthy food fast. Israeli company Goji Food Solutions has developed a cooker that uses RF chips to target radio waves at individual items inside.
This means that a cook can place a varity of items inside and have them all cooked perfectly. Indeed, in a recent demonstration, the company froze a salmon into a block of ice and then placed it in the cooker; and when the block was broken open, the salmon came out steaming and perfectly cooked.
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