There are a lot of microwave pressure cookers being advertised that are in fact no more than a glorified steamer. They consist of a plastic pan with a lid that is held down with clips. In the lid is a vent and the amount of steam can be controlled using the cover over it. You need to be aware that this unit does not function like a metal pressure cooker that you would use on the hob despite what the advertising says. There is no proper seal, and pressure is not built up in the cooker in the same way. There are no weights to regulate the pressure and no safety valve.
In the set I bought there were very vague instructions for use and even the measuring cup and spatula were missing. Recipes and timings were almost nonexistent.
Instructions tell you to put liquid in the base with the food to be cooked over it and use as you would use a regular pressure cooker. Not very helpful ! The cover over the vent has to be left in the open position during cooking as there is no way of controlling the amount of steam/pressure when using it in the microwave - so in fact you are 'steaming' food not 'pressure cooking' . It is probably more useful for cooking rice or pasta than meat or vegetables. You have to be careful not to use too much liquid or fill the base too full or it will all boil over.
I experimented using potatoes. Peeled and cut them up into small pieces and put in base of pan. I added about 1/4 pint BOILING water, clipped down the lid and put in microwave on highest setting for 10 mins with vent in open position. At the end of this cooking time I twisted the cover to sealed position and left pan for 5mins. On opening the pan I found the potatoes were cooked enough to mash. I had similar results with carrots and other vegetables. So it does work but does not save time as a regular pressure cooker does. It takes about the same amount of time as an ordinary pan on the hob or a steamer.
Although it suggests that you can cook casseroles I would think that if you used pressure cooker timings then you would not have a very satisfactory result. It takes long slow cooking or proper pressure cooking to achieve tender results for meat.
In its favour it is light to use, and can be put in the dishwasher.
A disappointing piece of equipment if you are expecting it to replace your pressure cooker but ok as a steamer.
Microwave pressure cooker
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24 November 2009
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