Pressure Cooker
Pumpkin Puree Preparation

Cutting up the Pumpkin for Steaming in the Pressure Cooker

A cookware investment that gives great returns over the years is a good quality pressure cooker. My mother often cooked with a pressure cooker when I was growing up in Zambia. The propane gas tanks to fuel our stove were transported via truck (or lorry!) over 300 miles of dirt roads. Thus, we were very aware of how much it took even to get the gas we used for cooking and baking. The oven was never turned on just for one item. When we baked, we prepared enough at one time to make full use of heating up the oven.

Because roasting meat in the oven takes so much time and gas, my mother usually cooked the game meat my father hunted in a pressure cooker. It was the older kind that had a pressure regulator on the lid which jiggled up and down once the pressure built up—the sound that lunch would soon be ready!

Pumpkin Purée from the Pressure Cooker

Homemade Pumpkin Purée from the Pressure Cooker

Over ten years ago, I invested in my own, updated design pressure cooker. After considerable research, I purchased a six-quart Fagor Splendid model. While the pressure regulator itself no longer makes noise, there is still the strong hissing of the steam, plus the wonderful smell of whatever is cooking!

I use it mostly for “utilitarian” cooking—that is, preparing foods for use in other dishes, such vegetable stock and pumpkin/squash/sweet potato purée. The next level of investment would be to buy a larger size to process pumpkin and squash in fewer batches, plus to do pressure canning.

Some people are intimidated by pressure cookers. If you get a quality cooker in good repair and follow the instruction manual, it is quite simple.

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

Here is a favorite recipe I make in the pressure cooker, Lentil Soup. (Adapted from “Lentils, Monastery Style” in Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé.)

1/4 cup (or less) olive oil (Now, I would use either butter or coconut oil)
1 or 2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon each of thyme and marjoram
3 cups seasoned stock (I use homemade vegetable stock)
1 cup lentils, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (The original recipe calls for parsley. The cilantro gives an extra-special flavor, in my opinion.)
1 one-pound canned tomatoes (purchased or home-canned—or fresh)
Grated Swiss cheese

Heat oil in large pot and sauté onions, garlic, and carrot for 3 to 5 minutes. Add herbs and sauté 1 minute. Add stock, lentils, half of cilantro and tomatoes and cook, covered, until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes in a regular pot. [Pressure cooker: Lock lid and bring to high pressure. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. Use quick release method. Consult your pressure cooker instruction book, etc.]

Add remaining cilantro and, if you wish, purée in blender or put through sieve. Grate cheese into bowls and fill with soup.

Do you use a pressure cooker? What are some favorite recipes or tips?


  1. Sam Carlson says:

    Yes, I use them for venison roasts, ribs, and for cabbage and potatoes. It really saves a lot of time. Slow cookers take 8 hours to do what this thing does in 40 min. Cabbage and potatoes takes 4 minutes. 4 minutes and whole potatoes are soft. Awesome.

    • Treechild says:

      Sounds delicious! Thanks for listing the times. Once the pressure builds up, the cooking really does go fast.

  2. CatsNK says:

    Love seeing your picture! We were pressure cooking pumpkins from our garden last night, too!

    I’ve had a pressure cooker for over 20 years. I started with beans and now do squashes in it. We almost never used canned beans – I prefer to use dry in the pressure cooker. It’s so useful! A couple years ago I upgraded to a stainless steel one – so happy with it.

    • Treechild says:

      Thanks for your comment! Besides pressure cooking, I use the stainless steel pot for regular cooking. The heavy-duty construction and thick bottom are great for sauteing onions for soup bases, etc.

      • CatsNK says:

        I use the old aluminum pressure cooker pot for making soap now – it’s still useful!

  3. Denimflyz says:

    I love my pressure cookers and canners. I am 54 and started using the cookers and canners a few years ago, after many years ago, I blew up a large antiquated canner in home ec class in jr high school. It took me a long time, but my fear was dissapated by two older ladies at our local Ace Hardward, who use them religiously. I finally caved in and now I am so very happy with them.
    The new cookers and canners are very safe to use,(you still need to use common sense) and keep an eye on the pressure. They do beans and meats and baked potatoes beautifully. They are also quick, and meals are done in under 30 minuites usually.
    Please, if you could, share some of your recipes for the pressure cookers?
    Wonderful post today.
    Regards from Nebraska

  4. Sam Carlson says:

    one thing too, my mom always told me never to put flour or powdered spice into the cooker, she said it could clog up the release value and rocker and explode.

  5. Lori says:

    Just wondering, about how much canned pumpkin puree do you get from a pumpkin that size? Pumpkin is one thing I have never canned but would like to and I have no clue how many pumpkins I’d have to get to put up..say maybe a dz pints 🙂

    • CatsNK says:

      We did one small pie pumpkin Tuesday night and got enough to fill a 1 quart yogurt container.

  6. ryewhiskey says:

    Hi, I am new to this website. I am getting good at conserving energy while cooking, but I have never used a pressure cooker. Doesn’t it destroy a lot of the nutritional value of food?

  7. Thuc LN says:

    I have used the pressure cooker for many years and has extensive experience in testing and use and manipulate them as having problems. what you share is very detailed and useful for me. thank you for your sharing.

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