Pressure Cookers are a family favourite appliance which has halved cooking times and made meal times easier. Though sometimes you might find you have added a little more water than you wanted and need to get rid of it.
There are a number of ways that you can reduce liquid in a pressure cooker, these include removing the water manually, boiling the water out or adding a thickening agent to sauces to absorb the excess liquid.
In this article, I am going to talk about if you can reduce liquid in a pressure cooker, why you might want to and how to reduce liquid in a pressure cooker.
Can You Reduce Liquid In A Pressure Cooker?
When cooking – whether with a pressure cooker or without – there is a chance you can add too much water to the food being prepared. This does not let the food cook as intended, and the case is worse when a pressure cooker is used.
Pressure cookers rely on converting water to steam in a closed environment to make the food cook faster.
If there is too much liquid in the pressure cooker, the food would lack flavour, or if it is a sauce that is being cooked, then it would be too thin. Furthermore, the food might be cooked evenly if the pressure cooker is overfilled.
Even worse, the pressure might not build up enough for the food to cook the way it was intended, or there could be so much pressure that it breaks down the food more than necessary. The effect depends on the liquid involved.
The good news is that there are ways to reduce the liquid in a pressure cooker in most cases. However, the situation might not be helped if the excess water is overwhelming.
The solutions might not make the food come out the way it would have if it did not contain too much water in the first place, but it would ensure the food does not go to waste.
Although solutions exist to cure the problem, it would be wiser and more economical to prevent adding excess liquid in the first place.
Pressure cookers cook food quicker than regular pots do, so when dealing with excess liquid, the food would take extra time to boil since it would take a longer time for a larger volume of liquid to come to a boil.
To avoid reducing liquids in foods, note that water-based foods like mushrooms, cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, etc., would need less water than denser food items, like a steak.
When preparing a sauce, you might not need to add water at all – if you have to, it would be little – because they are already a form of liquid, so adding water would not let it cook effectively.
That being said, the fear of having to reduce liquid from a pressure cooker should not stop you from putting water in your pressure cooker when preparing food.
Not having enough liquid in the cooker would not allow pressure to generate to cook the food, thus defeating the reason for using a pressure cooker in the first place.
You can in fact reduce the liquid in your pressure cooker but first, you would be required to stop the cooking process, release the steam and safely open the top when the metal tap drops. You can remove liquid physically or by cooking it out.
Alternatively, you can add ingredients that soak up the excess liquid to create a thicker sauce and won’t remove any of the flavour.
When Would I Need to Reduce Liquid in a Pressure Cooker?
If you are an experienced cook, your intuition would tell you something about the food is not right if you put too much water in the cooker.
You might not notice straight away that there is a problem, but some way into preparing the food, you would see that something is amiss. You have to open the pressure cooker to observe the meal’s appearance to know if there is excess liquid in it.
Note that extreme caution should be taken when opening pressure cookers while food is cooking. Some electric pressure cookers would not let the user open them while pressure is building inside them.
The user has to turn it off and release the pressure before the cooker would open.
The right time to reduce the liquid in a pressure cooker depends on the food being cooked, as different recipes have different guidelines on how to release the steam used to put the food under pressure.
When preparing pasta or something similar, the excess liquid should be removed when the food is cooked already.
For something like a sauce, which is impossible to sieve, you should work to get rid of excess liquids as soon as they are introduced into the cooker.
If you want to cook rice, beans, or any grain, the pressure cooker should not be filled to more than half because they usually expand to around double in size.
If it is noticed that excess water is put in the cooker, it should be reduced immediately because it would either boil over and start to generate bubbles and foam – because of the starch in the grains – which will spill out and make a mess.
Other foods that would not swell as much – and any accompanying liquids – can be put in the cooker till about two-thirds of the cooker’s capacity.
Generally, it would be appropriate to reduce liquids in a pressure cooker before adding spices to the food because taking the excess liquid out after would reduce the ingredients’ concentration, making the meal less tasty or too light – if it is a sauce.
How To Reduce Liquid In A Pressure Cooker
If you feel your meal, sauce or soup has too much liquid in it you might look to take some liquid out or try and thicken the sauce.
1. Draining With A Sieve
This is the simplest and most common method, but its use is limited to grains and foods that do not have spices added to them while they are being cooked.
- Firstly, you turn off the cooker and grab a sieve.
- Place the sieve on a sink and gently pour the excess liquid out of the cooker through the sieve.
- Return any portion of food that accompanied the excess liquid into the sieve back to the pot.
2. Boil The Food On Low Heat
When it comes to sauces and soups, the best way – which is also time-consuming – is to leave the cover of the pressure cooker off while the food is cooking. You can do this by saute or slow cooker mode which doesn’t require the lid to be on to work.
This method might not apply to electric pressure cookers – only traditional pressure cookers – because some cannot start cooking while they are open.
- When you notice there is excess liquid in the food, and you cannot drain it with a sieve, keep the cooker open so water can evaporate into the atmosphere while the food is boiling.
- Reduce the heat so the food does not lose more water content than necessary.
- Sometimes, you have to leave the cooker open throughout the cooking process. You can then cover it when you feel it has lost enough moisture, and losing more would ruin the meal.
3. Add Cornstarch
Before you look to remove any of the liquid be sure that it is plainly water if you are looking to take liquid out of the pressure cooker you might find yourself taking out flavour as well.
Cornstarch is very helpful in situations where you have to reduce the liquid in a pressure cooker. They thicken the liquids and make them into something like a sauce, which could be useful when preparing some kinds of food.
- To prepare the cornstarch slurry, add two parts of water to one part of cornstarch and mix them together.
- Add one or two teaspoons of the mixture to the food, stir and allow to boil.
The food will gradually become thicker but keep stirring and add an extra tablespoon of the mixture if the texture is not enough. Xanthan gum, plain flour, a mixture of equal parts of flour and butter (beurre manie) can act as substitutes for cornstarch slurry.
Be careful not to add too much because it could change the taste of the meal in question.