Table of Contents
- 1 What Are The Pros and Cons of Using A Pressure Cooker?
- 1.1 Stovetop vs. Electric Pressure Cooker
- 1.2 Pros
- 1.3 Cons
- 1.4 Final Verdict
- 1.5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 1.6 6 Great Pressure Cookers
What Are The Pros and Cons of Using A Pressure Cooker?
So, you’ve been toying with the idea of buying a pressure cooker for ages. You love the idea of being able to transform big chunks of meat into succulent, fall-off-the-bone delicacies quickly.
But on the other hand, you feel like you already have enough appliances in your tiny kitchen. So, why add another device that will only take up more space?
In the following post, I have provided a thorough analysis of a pressure cooker pros and cons. This way, you can finally decide whether owning this appliance is a smart choice or not.
Stovetop vs. Electric Pressure Cooker
Before we look at the benefits, it helps to familiarize yourself with the two main types of pressure cookers – stovetop and electric pressure cookers.
A stovetop pressure cooker can be used with any stove or heat induction- be it an induction plate or gas stove- an electric pressure cooker model to be plugged into an electrical outlet.
But other than the source of power, these appliances work in a reasonably similar manner; hence they offer the same benefits.
There are just a few areas where one model tends to be slightly superior to the other. One of these areas is speed, where the stovetop has the upper hand. Since it’s placed directly on a burner, it reaches higher pressure more quickly, allowing it to cook food faster.
That said, electric cookers provide a more hands-off experience. They offer ways to automate several cooking functions, from cooking time to pressure control and more.
Modern-day electric pressure cookers also have many more cooking functions aside from pressure cooking, which is why there has been a sudden rise in their popularity. You can cook food in many different ways as they can act as a slow cooker, yogurt maker, air fryer, and much more.
There’s a lot more to say about the general advantages and disadvantages of pressure cookers, so let’s dig in.
Cooking food in a pressure cooker saves you more energy than cooking in multiple pots using individual burners. Plus, this appliance prepares meals in a shorter time, which also helps to save energy.
To put this into perspective, I’ll use the example of a dish of pot roast. The first step in preparing this dish is to brown the meat. Afterward, most people usually transfer it to an oven, which they set at 300°F for 2 to 3 hours to finish the cooking process.
If you were to use a pressure cooker instead, you’d spend just one hour after browning it. Meaning, a pressure cooker reduces your cooking time by a considerable margin, up to 66%. Cutting down on cooking time translates to energy savings.
Energy expert, Michael Bluejay, estimates that a standard electric oven consumes about 2,000 watts of energy. It means that if you cook for three hours, you end up spending 6 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy. By comparison, a pressure cooker would only use 4kWh.
Now, let’s assume you prepare this meal once every week. It means that in just one year, you’d rack up energy savings equivalent to 208kWh.
Based on this analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), American households spend an average of $0.13 per kWh on electricity. Therefore, using a pressure cooker instead of typical cooking pots helps you save $27.04 on electricity alone.
It’s a question that lingers in the minds of many buyers. Does a pressure cooker save time?
What about all that time required to build pressure inside the pressure cooker? Don’t you have to release this pressure at the end before checking on food?
Sure, pressure cookers require a couple of minutes to accumulate enough pressure to cook. And, yes, a few more to release pressure before opening its lid.
But even if you took this into account, you still save time overall due to the amount of time saved in the actual cooking process.
To illustrate this concept, I’ll compare a pressure cooker to a pan. Thanks to Gabriel’s invention of the temperature scale, we know that water boiling in a pan reaches a maximum temperature of 212°F (100°C). Well, at least for those of us who live at sea level, it does.
If you live at a high altitude, water boils at an even lower temperature. If you’re trying to boil water from a camp on Mount Everest, the highest temperature it will reach is about 160°F (71°C). Once it reaches the maximum temperature, it begins to evaporate.
Now, the problem with cooking at lower temperatures, hence, lower air pressures, is that water starts evaporating a little sooner than it should. Therefore, causing food to dry out faster.
Conversely, boiling water in a pressure cooker allows it to reach a temperature beyond its boiling point, up to 250°F (121°C).
So what does this mean? The outcome of all this means food cooks faster, which results in a more tender and juicy meal due to all the moisture retention.
It’s been projected by many that food cooks in one-third less time compared to other cooking techniques.
You’re preparing dinner for your family when you decide to step out of the kitchen for just a couple of minutes.
By the time you get back, the stew you were making has boiled over, creating a massive mess on your stovetop. “But I was only away for a few minutes,” you murmur as you try to think of the best way to clean your cooker.
If you want a cooking appliance that you don’t have to stand over the entire time, then a pressure cooker would be a good choice.
This nifty invention lets you cook your food completely hands-free! No need to watch the pot, worried that it’s going to boil over. Neither do you need to keep stirring or adjusting any temperatures.
Just set the time, pick a cooking function, and voila, your meal will be ready within a few minutes.
Suitable for Cooking Large Food Portions
Do you have a big family? Or are you in the habit of hosting brunch parties for your friends? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you know firsthand how tricky it can be to cook for a crowd.
Thankfully, pressure cookers come in all sorts of sizes, making it possible to prepare large food portions in a short amount of time.
The 3-in-1 Granite Ware Pressure Cooker is a good case in point of a stovetop pressure cooker with multiple functions. There is also a wide choice of electric pressure cooker brands such as Instant Pot and Ninja Foodi that are multi-function.
The Granite Ware pressure cooker doubles up as a pressure canner and steamer on top of the pressure-cooking function. But what is even more impressive about it is the 20-quart capacity.
This makes it the perfect appliance for tackling all your large-capacity cooking needs for seafood, pot roast, ribs, and more. It means you can get home at 6 p.m. and have dinner for eight people ready within an hour.
If you’re going to spend several hundreds of dollars investing in a pressure cooker, then you probably expect it to last.
Fortunately, this cooking appliance is designed to last a very long time. Its body is usually constructed from stainless steel, making it among the most durable cooking appliances.
A bonus of using stainless steel is the fact that it doesn’t leach into food. So you’ll never have to worry about your food ending up with a metallic taste.
Improves Nutrient Retention
One of the biggest arguments against this nifty appliance is that it doesn’t prepare healthy food. Some people say that using a pressure cooker results in nutrient loss because food is cooked at a much higher temperature and pressure.
This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Pressure cooking is one of the healthiest ways of preparing food because it locks all those beneficial nutrients. Here are the facts to back this up:
According to this 1995 study published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, the nutrients- vitamin C and beta carotene-were higher in pressure-cooked food than the food prepared using a pan. The specific foods used for this study were spinach and amaranth.
In a study done in 2007 and published in the Journal of Food Science, scientists discovered that pressure cooking broccoli resulted in better nutrient retention than other cooking techniques. Pressure cooking resulted in 90% retention of vitamin C while boiling and steaming amounted to 68% and 78% retention, respectively.
With pressure cooking, food is cooked in a fraction of the time. Therefore, leaving very little room or time during which nutrients can be lost.
Along with preserving nutrients, pressure cooking also leads to very flavorful meals. The length of cooking time also comes into play here. Since a pressure cooker cooks food faster, very little moisture is lost. The moisture retention is what results in richer and more developed flavors.
Compatible With An Array of Cooking Techniques
A pressure cooker lets you use pretty much every cooking method you know. Modern versions are designed with versatility in mind, making them suitable in different circumstances. So don’t limit yourself to just one approach. Here’s the complete list of cooking techniques you can employ:
Thanks to this versatility, a pressure cooker can replace several cooking appliances. An investment in this appliance means you don’t have to buy a food steamer, braiser pan, rice cooker, or baking pan. By only needing one machine, you save not only money but space also.
There's A Learning Curve
If it’s your first time using a pressure cooker, you’ve probably experienced this first hand. You follow your recipes to the letter, set the correct time and temperature, and still your meals wind up over-or undercooked.
The truth is, no one has ever figured it out from the start. Using a pressure cooker requires a little practice initially. But once you get the hang of it, you probably won’t want to use any other type of cookware.
The bad news is, overcooking certain foods, like meat, can be a disaster. Instead of enjoying a tender and juicy lamb chop, you might end up having one that is crunchy, dry, and not that flavorful.
To avoid this, when you first start, make sure that you follow a recipe as there is bound to be someone who has already taken the time to work out the timings to get the best results.
Once you become more familiar and confident with using a pressure cooker, you can start to prepare meals on your own and judge how long it will take to cook.
There are millions of pressure cooker recipes available online (including some here), so no matter what you are making, there is bound to be a written recipe for it already out there.
On the surface, a pressure cooker looks like a sturdy appliance. But if you want to get the most out of it, it’s good to conduct routine maintenance.
One element you should pay attention to is the gasket. The gasket is the ring that sits on the interior section of the lid. It’s responsible for trapping heat and steam; hence, allowing food to cook faster.
Over time, dust and oil may collect on the gasket. This ring may also become too loose, allowing heat and steam to escape. To keep it in pristine condition, ensure you clean it after every use. More importantly, inspect it for cracks, and replace it accordingly.
Another component that requires regular maintenance is the vent. The vent is the part through which pressure escapes. As time goes by, it might get clogged with food particles. Clean it after every use to prevent such blockage. I wrote an article on maintaining a pressure cooker that you can refer to for further detailed information.
Zero Control Over The Cooking Process
If you’re the kind of person who likes to monitor your cooking process by the minute, you might not like pressure cookers.
Once enough pressure has built up inside the appliance, you’re not supposed to open it until the cooking process is complete. Yes, that means waiting for the entire time to elapse.
If you choose to open the cooker midway, the pressure will drop to zero. Assuming that your food is uncooked, you’ll have to close the lid and wait for the pressure to start building up from scratch. By doing this, you will add to the overall cooking time.
To avoid this:
Be a little patient.
Don’t open your pressure cooker halfway through the process.
Even when the clock runs out, remember to let out all the pressure first before opening the lid.
Have you joined the pressure cooker bandwagon yet? If you have not, it’s about time you do. This handy appliance offers multiple benefits, which outweigh its limitations.
For starters, it’s a time-saver, enabling you to prepare food in a fraction of the time it would take with other cookware.
Secondly, it’s energy-efficient, a factor that helps to lower your utility bills. It also enables you to save counter space by taking the place of several appliances. And, it makes dishes, which are not only tasty but also chock full of nutrients!
If you want a pressure cooker that has a wide variety of options and functions then I would suggest purchasing an electric pressure cooker such as the ninja Foodi or Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus but if you are looking for a pressure cooker ideal for Canning then a stovetop such as the All American 921 will probably be your best bet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, they are easy to clean. The pot and lid can be washed in the dishwasher or by hand with soap, water.
The outside of the pressure cooker can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
The rubber gasket can be removed and washed in soapy water, then rinsed off with clean running cold tapwater before being replaced on the lid of your pressure cooker pot.
Yes, they last a long time.
The pressure cooker is made of stainless steel, which will not rust or corrode like other metals would over the years you use it for cooking food at home!
The rubber gasket can be replaced if necessary to ensure an airtight seal. The rubber gaskets are very inexpensive and can be purchase from the manufacturer or from places like Amazon.
In term of performance, the size of the pressure cooker does not matter.
The size you purchase will depend on how much food is to be cooked at one time and what your budget allows for, but there are many sizes available that can accommodate all needs!
The most popular sized pot in America today has a capacity between six to eight quart pots which would work well for most people.
The size of the pressure cooker has no bearing on the quality of food cooked in it. Think about not only what you need on a day to day basis but also what you might want to cook in the future. For example, do you have more family or friends around at Thanksgiving and Christmas?
Most modern electric pressure cookers have multiple functions, allowing you to use them as a slow cooker, rice maker and more.
If you are unsure about how often you expect to use your pressure cooker then it is best not buy an expensive one that will be sitting in the cupboard for most of its life! You can always upgrade later if need arises or when budget allows.
Having said that, if you feel you will use the other functions of the pressure cooker on a regular basis it might be best to purchase a decent one to save on money in the future.
Modern electric pressure cookers are very safe to use. They are designed with safety features such as a locking lid and pressure regulator valve that will prevent the cooker from exploding if it is overfilled or not closed properly.
Stovetop pressure cookers also tend to be very safe but they do not have the same safety features as electric pressure cookers.
If you are using a stovetop cooker, it is important to make sure that you do not leave it unattended when cooking.