The pressure cooker has come in and out of fashion over its history. Many people may not realize how long they have been around. The pressure cooker was invented in 1679 by French Physicist Denis Papin.
The second generation of pressure cookers came into production in the early 1900s, relying on a spring-loaded valve to release excess pressure. The first recipe book for the innovation was published in 1924 by José Alix entitled 360 recipes for cooking with a pressure cooker.
Although all pressure cookers run on the same principles, third-generation cookers now have features such as:
- Electric heat sources
- Automatic pressure regulation
- Smart programming
- Cooking pre-sets
- Multi-functions and more
Third generation pressure cookers can also be multi-purpose, also functioning as a rice cooker, slow cooker, air fryer, steamer and stockpot.
But what makes these cookers so unique in comparison to traditional cooking methods? The team here at Kitchenairy has delved into the science of this unique and effective cooking contraption. We’ve looked into some of the pros and cons. Read on for more.
Traditional cooking vessels are non-pressurized like pots, pans and steamers cook at boiling point, which is 100 °C (212 °F), meaning foods to cook at their natural rate. Once the temperature reaches boiling point, excess moisture (water) vaporizes and dissipates the energy into steam.
In a sealed, pressurized vessel, however, The boiling point of water is increased significantly. As temperature rises, so does the amount of pressure within the container, which results in superheated water.
The contained pressure builds, and once it reaches 100 kPa of pressure above the existing atmospheric pressure the heat of the water rises to around 120 °C (248 °F), approximately 20 °C (68°F) higher than water typical boiling point.
The device then limits this pressure via a release valve, either spring-loaded or electronically regulated, which keeps the pressure consistent throughout the cooking process.
By creating this high pressure and creating high than average temperatures while cooking, the food cooks far more quickly, sometimes to as much as 30% or more. The pressure also forces the flavours of the ingredients to fuse more effectively.
Benefits of pressure cooking
Several benefits come from cooking with a pressure cooker besides just cooking food faster, like saving you money and making your diet healthier. Read on to learn more.
Cooking your healthy stews and delicious dishes in a pressure cooker helps to retain more nutrients. Above all, a lot of nutrients from food a lost during longer cooking times by being boiled off and overheated.
Cooking in a pressure cooker not only needs less water, but it also retains the liquid it is using and helps to maintain the density of vitamins, minerals, colours and flavours in your dishes, making for healthier, tastier food.
Reduces compounds harmful to health
Because the food inside a pressure cooker is bathing in steam, the compressed high-heat helps to eliminate cancer-causing compounds. These include acrylamide as well as heterocyclic amines which arrive when high-heat cooking methods.
It also helps to remove anti-nutrients like lectins and phytic acid that are in grain, legumes and pseudo-grains. Above all, these anti-nutrients bind to minerals. This makes them indigestible, and they create inflammation in the gut.
A pressure cooker uses much less energy than having multiple pots or pans on your stovetop. The retention of pressurized heat and faster cooking times means a saving on your energy bills.
Can pressure cookers explode?
Did you inherit grandma’s old death trap from the 70s? These hissing gurgling cast aluminium pressure cookers had a reputation for blowing their top and coating your ceiling in boiling soup and stew. This also presented the potential for anyone within range to get badly scalded.
Modern pressure cookers are safe multifunctional cooking marvels.
They contain automatic pressure releases, locks and fail-safes. Therefore you get all of the many benefits of pressure cooking, and none of the old school risks.
Pressure cooker disadvantages
Even though there are many benefits to using a pressure cooker, they will never replace the need for more traditional cooking methods. There are pros and cons.
You can’t leave them unattended
Unlike a slow cooker or crockpot, a pressure cooker is not something you can leave while you go out for the day.
Even though there are fail-safes and automatic release valves, anything that is holding contained pressure should be under observation, just to ensure nothing does go wrong while you are out and about.
You can’t monitor the cooking
In a slow cooker or crockpot, you can take off the lid and add ingredients in accordance with their cook times.
A whole chicken takes longer to cook than a potato. Above all, a pressure cooker seals from when you start the cooking cycle. Therefore, when your chicken finishes, your potatoes will be merely mush.
This limits the use of pressure cookers for many dishes, so it’s good to get yourself a decent cookbook to learn more about effective slow cooker recipes.
As our modern lifestyles have gotten busier, our living and storage spaces have continued to shrink. Pressure cookers can be relatively bulky and will take up considerable space in your kitchen cupboard or benchtop.
You will need to consider how often you’ll use your pressure cooker to see if it is worth your investment. Above all, here at Kitchenairy, we think you will love all the delicious, healthy foods you will make with your multi-purpose, third-generation pressure cooker.
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