Photo credit: Traditional Cooking School member Karla H!
“Is pressure cooking healthy?” Nicole D. asks on today's #AskWardee. I used to think it wasn't, but now… I'm sharing my answer below!
From Nicole D.:
“I was wondering your thoughts on pressure cookers. I have had my InstantPot for over a year and a half now and thought it was the greatest thing!
However I was just browsing through my Nourishing Traditions cookbook again and noticed in the kitchen equipment section it recommends against pressure cookers (right under microwaves) because food can get too hot, above the boiling point.
Now I'm conflicted. It seems that pressure cookers are getting really popular now, especially for broth, beans and such. Would love to hear your opinion.” –Nicole D.
For a long time, I was against pressure cooking/canning because of this very passage, too!
I have changed my tune, though…
Pressure Canning v. Pressure Cooking?
Basically the difference is explained in each name. Pressure canning is for canning food. Pressure cooking is for cooking meals and dishes. Both are accomplished via a pot that’s sealed up tighter than your normal cooking pot — which therefore creates a higher-pressure and higher-heat environment.
The pressure cooker is smaller (no jars to fit in) and should be stainless steel because your food comes into contact with the pot while cooking.
The pressure canner is usually very large (to fit jars) and can be aluminum because the food doesn't come into contact with it. (Though some canners are stainless steel, this is not a must.
Is Pressure Cooking Healthy?
In December 2012, I read an article from Kristen at Food Renegade. Essentially, she argues that pressure cooking increases nutrient preservation (as well as increases cooking efficiency). Her article — which covers much more ground than my one sentence summary — got me mulling over the issues and saying to myself, “I’m going to try that someday…”
With reduced cooking times, heat-sensitive nutrients (like ascorbic acid and beta-carotene) are better preserved. And anti-nutrients such as phytic acid are better reduced through pressure cooking than boiling. (Credit to Food Renegade for this info.)
So when we got a really tough beef one year, I decided that I was going to look at pressure cooking. If it's healthy, why not benefit from the other 2 reasons to pressure cook…
2 More Benefits
It’s fast. Fast as in what might usually take 2 hours will be done in 20 minutes. Already soaked beans done in 15 minutes (or so, depending on the bean type). A thawed chicken in about an hour or a frozen chicken in an hour and a half. A roast in 65 minutes rather than 3 to 4 hours. Nutritious broth/stock in 2 hours rather than 12 to 24. Even vegetables are faster — but I don’t see the point in pressure cooking those because they’re pretty fast anyway and they can quickly turn to mush if pressure cooked too long.
It tenderizes meat. This is especially helpful for wild or pastured meat that could use softening up. I just want to say — not all pastured meat needs this. But this year, ours sure does!
Want More Info?
Read this: Getting Started With Pressure Cooking (my own tips for getting started).
Join our Pressure Cooking I and II eCourses! More info right here.
- Getting Started with Pressure Cooking
- my Instant Pot (amazing hands-free plug-n-play pressure cooker!)
- Kuhn Rikon (my first pressure cooker, for stovetop)
- Lorna Sass' Pressure Perfect book (the charts are invaluable!)
- Free Traditional Cooking Video Series (my gift to you)
- Pressure Cooking I and II eCourses
What Is The #AskWardee Show?
The #AskWardee is the live weekly show devoted to answering your niggling questions about traditional cooking: whether it's your sourdough starter, your sauerkraut, preserving foods, broth, superfoods or anything else to do with Traditional Cooking or your GNOWFGLINS lifestyle.
I share tips and resources, plus answer your questions about Traditional Cooking!
When: Wednesdays at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern
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I want to know: do you love pressure cooking? Why or why not?
Is it really possible to "eat what you want to eat" like bread and butter, cinnamon rolls and cookies, meat and potatoes...
Bible-based cooking program...
...yet it's GOOD for you?
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