Pressure Cooker
Cooking Knowledge, Non Recipes, Nutrition

Why you should own a pressure cooker

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If there is one pot in my kitchen that I will never let go of, it is my pressure cooker. If you don’t own a pressure cooker yet, you should consider buying one. Even if you’re one of these skeptics, let me show you why I think this is the most useful kitchen tool.

According to the USDA, the average American spends only 37 minutes a day preparing food and cleaning up. The same is true for British people who spend on average 34 minutes in the kitchen. In Germany, only 23 % of the households responded to a survey that they cook daily.

I’ve found an interesting infographic published by the Daily Mail that shows the most popular evening meals in the UK. Take a look at it, and tell me which of these dishes you can prepare in 34 minutes including clean up time.

Daily Mail Graphic
The most popular evening meals of people living in the UK. Source: DailyMail

Using only traditional cookware, it’s going to be a tough task to pull off a roast or stew in less than half an hour. Unless you’re cooking chicken or fish, you’re not going to get any tougher cuts of beef or pork tender within that short timeframe.

Pressure-cooking cuts down cooking time by more than two thirds

However, with a pressure cooker, you will have no problem to tenderize even the toughest cut of meat in 20 minutes. I prepare all of my stews in a pressure cooker. On weeknights, I don’t have the patience to wait 2 hours for a goulash to cook down.

But it’s not just meat dishes that can take a long time to cook. Even for simple dishes like pan-fried potatoes, you will need to pre-cook the potatoes in water first. Do you really think I will wait for a pot of jacket potatoes to cook for 25 minutes followed by 15 minutes of slowly crisping up the potatoes in a frying pan? I can get the potatoes tender in less than 10 minutes in my pressure cooker.

I think with our tight schedules nowadays we can really spend our time better than waiting for a pot of potatoes, lentils, or goulash to cook. Of course, you don’t need to babysit your food all the time and can leave the kitchen while you wait for your stew to get tender. But what about leaving the house?

Pressure cookers help us to prepare healthier and more nutritous food

We’re all looking for ways to save time by using instant products and pre-cut vegetables when we could just as easily prepare much better quality food in the same amount of time by using a pressure cooker.

Cooking broth
With a pressure cooker, a nourishing broth can be prepared in a matter of minutes.

I do think that pressure cookers make us cook better and healthier.

  • You won’t need any stock cubes if you’re able to prepare a delicious and nourishing vegetable broth in less than 15 minutes in your pressure cooker.
  • You won’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive cuts of meat if you can just take the cheaper and more flavorful cuts and tenderize them in less than half an hour.
  • You won’t ever need to eat mushy beans or lentils from a can. It takes 10 minutes without pre-soaking to get lentils tender in a pressure cooker. That’s a huge benefit to the traditional way of cooking them.

Why pressure cooking pulses and grains is beneficial for health reasons

But it’s not just time that you save by using a pressure cooker. I just recently stumbled across two studies that investigated the effect of pressure cooking on the nutritional quality of pulses.

Pressure cooking green cowpea pods resulted in a significant destruction in anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients in pulses and grains prevent our body from absorbing the nutrients found in grains and make them hard to digest. If you have problems with bloating after eating beans, then it’s a fabolous idea to pressure cook them.

In my post for the defense of meat I stated that red meat is the best source for iron as the in meat occuring heam form of iron has a much better bio accesability than the non-heam form of iron that is present in plants.

Kidney beans
Pressure cooked beans are easier to digest than traditionally prepared ones.

A group of Brazilian scientist found out that if water soaked beans were cooked in a regular pan, the bioaccessability of iron was only 8.92 %. However, if they were cooked in a pressure cooker without previous soaking, the iron accesability increased to 44.33 %.

It’s the anti-nutrients found in pulses, that prevent our body from absorbing essential minerals such as iron. If you destroy these by pressure cooking, you can largely increase the health benefits gained from eating pulses.

Pressure cooking makes your meat more tender

It’s not just time that tenderizes meat. There are a ton of options available and I’m sure I’m going to cover them in detail on this blog some time in the future. One way to get meat noticabely more tender is by pressure cooking it.

A group of Indian scientist investigated the effect of pressure cooking on the sensory attributes of goat curry. They also investigated some other methods of meat tenderization like the addition of citric acid or cucumis. However, the curry prepared in a pressure cooker was significantly more tender and juicier than curry cooked the traditional way.

Table of Sensory of pressure cooked meats
Pressure cooked goat meat curry is noticably more tender than regular cooked one. Source: Journal of Food Science and Technology

Another study from Turkish scientists compared the impact of pressure cooking on the sensory of stewed lamb meat. The pressure cooked meat was juicier than traditionally cooked and microwaved meat.

Moisture content of pressure cooked meat chart
Moisture content of lamb stew as a function of time. Source: International Journal of Food Properties

Hardnesss and chewiness of the meat increased significantly during the cooking process for both the traditionally cooked and microwaved samples. However, for the pressure cooked sample neiter hardness nor chewiness increased.

Why traditionally prepared meat becomes tough and chewy

The reason for the increased hardness and chewiness of meat after cooking is that at atmospheric pressure and during microwave cooking, the proteins begin to coagulate and squeeze out moisture. Thus the juciness of the meat gets reduced, it shrinks, dries out, and gets tough.

However, this doesn’t happen during pressure cooking. When cooking meat, steam will get produced inside the meat by the boiling liquid inside the meat. In traditional cooking methods, this steam will just boil away.

Chicken curry
Pressure cooked curries and stews are more tender and juicier than if they are cooked at atmospheric pressure.

However, when pressure cooking meat, there’s no way to escape for all these meat juices. They are trapped inside the system so that the moisture content inside the meat will remain constant.

If you already own a pressure cooker, I’m sure you’ve experienced already how much more tender and juicy pressure cooked meat can really be. But if not, go get a pressure cooker. I promise you won’t regret it. There’s hardly any meal I don’t use my pressure cooker for. It’s by far the most used pot in my kitchen.

References:
Americans Spend an Average of 37 Minutes a Day Preparing and Serving Food and Cleaning Up

Effect of household cooking methods on nutritional and anti nutritional factors in green cowpea pods

Effect of different home-cooking methods on the bioaccessibility of zinc and iron in conventionally bred cowpea consumed in Brazil

Effects of citric acid, cucumis powder and pressure cooking on quality attributes of goat meat curry

Physical and Chemical Attributes of a Ready-to-Eat Meat Product during the Processing: Effects of Different Cooking Methods

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