I bought a pressure cooker a couple of months ago, and it has truly changed my life. I know people have heard horror stories about pressure cookers “exploding” and whatnot, but the truth is that 95% of those cases involve user error, and the 5% defective equipment.
Modern pressure cookers are safer than the old models your grandmother may have used, and they provide the busy working Mom with a lot of meal preparation advantages. Pressure cookers cook food up to 70 percent faster than traditional cooking methods, which means food retains more nutrients. Plus they’re highly energy-efficient thereby saving money on your gas or electric bill. And since pressure cookers cook long-cooking things like beans in a fraction of the time, your home and kitchen will stay cooler (very important during hot summer months).
Though I am a huge fan of tradition and handing things down from generation to generation (recipes, cast iron pots, stories, photos and jewelry primarily), there is no way I would use some ancient been-around-40-years-and-counting pressure cooker.
Which is why I went and bought a new one. That way I knew everything was intact, working as it should be, and all the parts are new. It was a decent price because it was on sale, PLUS I used my 20% off Bed Bath & Beyond coupon! Yay me!
Before I tell you how to cook black beans in a pressure cooker, let’s go over some safety tips.
Pressure Cooker Safety
Though the instructions on any pressure cooker you buy will set out the basics of safe use. Let’s go over a few general guidelines that apply irrespective of product manufacturer.
#1 Safest bet is a good quality, new pressure cooker (avoid old cookers scrounged from a deceased relative’s basement or that you found on Ebay, at a yard or garage sale). A used one may be okay if it has been sealed in a box and appears to be in good shape. Look it over carefully. If you notice any warping, chips, dents or damage, don’t use the pressure cooker.
#2 Keep the rubber gasket which seals the lid clean and in good shape. The gasket is the ring of rubber that lines the lid of the pressure cooker. If the gasket looks cracked or broken, replace it immediately. If unable to find the gasket locally, you can always order it from the manufacturer’s website. Order two! These are necessary to have for a proper seal which maintains pressure in the cooker.
#3 Don’t overfill the cooker. Avoid placing your black or other beans over the maximum fill line. You’ll see it clearly marked on the interior of the pressure cooker. Remember, beans expand and double or triple in size when you cook them – you’ll need room in the pot for them to do so.
#4 Always clean your pressure cooker thoroughly after using it. Make sure the valves and pressure release nozzles are clean and clear of debris. Clean the rubber gasket seal by hand with a dish brush and hot soapy water.
#5 Allow pressure to release gradually (or use the rapid release valve) before opening. Trying to force the pressure cooker to open when it doesn’t open easily is a huge mistake likely to result in severe damage to your face, upper body and walls/ceiling from hot beans exploding from the pot.
#6 When you add your black beans to the pressure cooker, add 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil to prevent the beans from foaming which may block the pressure nozzle.
#7 Add only enough water to cover the beans – an inch or two above the level of the beans is plenty.
#8 After cleaning, allow all parts to air dry before storing pressure cooker away. Do not seal the lid onto the pot – just place rocking pressure nozzle and rubber seal ring in bottom of pot, and turn top upside down to rest on it. This prevents you from wearing out your rubber seal prematurely.
Cooking Your Black Beans
I am not.
So having the ability to decide at 5:00 that I want to have black bean burritos from home cooked beans on the table at 6:30 is too fabulous for words!
Once you have your beans in the pot with seasonings and oil, lock the pressure cooker, place the pressure valve on the nozzle, and cook the black beans on medium heat for the required time. The pressure indicator will gently rock and you’ll hear the excess steam releasing.
After about 20 minutes of pressure cooking, remove pot from stove. DO NOT OPEN POT! Let it cool down, releasing the pressure at a gradual pace. This method also helps keep your beans whole, vs. releasing the pressure valve which may cause them to break. As the pot cools, the contents will continue to cook for some time afterwards.
- If you pre-soak your black beans like an organized individual, it will take only about 5-6 minutes of pressure cooking with the natural release method.
- If you want to use the quick release method (letting the pressure cooker vent steam to release pressure, so you can open the cooker soon), then soaked black beans will take 6-9 minutes.
- If you are like me and don’t want to soak anything, your beans will need to cook about 30 minutes for quick release, and about 25 minutes if you use the natural release method.
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 package Goya Ham Flavored Concentrate
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
- 6 cups water
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a 6-quart pressure cooker over medium-high heat, pour in 3 tablespoons oil.
- Add onions and cook until the onions are wilted; add garlic and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the beans and ham concentrate; stir well.
- Pour in the water; add the remaining tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and a couple of grindings of fresh black pepper.
- Following the manufacturer's instructions, cover, lock the lid, and bring to high pressure. Lower heat to maintain pressure and start timing.
- Cook at high pressure for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Test steam by using the pressure release valve, then open lid; stir and taste beans, testing doneness and adjusting seasoning as necessary.
- If the beans are undercooked and too firm, simmer them with the lid off until tender.
- Remove bay leaf and discard.
Category: Veganism and African Americans