The term “pressure cooking” may conjure up images of old heavy pots with a slightly scary rattling and hissing nob on top. However, despite the long history of this method of cooking, it is still relevant today. When pressure cooking was first introduced there were headlines declaring that this method of cooking destroyed nutrients in food. More recently, research has been published demonstrating that pressure cooking can be a healthy way to prepare food.
How Pressure Cooking Works
A pressure cooker is a pot with a lid that has a tight seal. This seal increases the air pressure inside the pot helping food cook faster and at slightly higher temperatures. This occurs because the boiling point of water is higher when there is more air pressure. For example, water boils at 160F at Mount Everest where there is lower air pressure and 212F at sea level when there is higher air pressure.
This boiling point is important because all food contains water, and cooking is essentially the process of heating this water within the food. The combination of these factors is why chefs can cook a pot roast in an hour in a pressure cooker rather than hours in a traditional oven.
Benefits of Using a Pressure Cooker
Contrary to many commonly held beliefs, a pressure cooker can be a healthier way to cook than roasting, steaming, boiling or microwaving. Here are a few stats to consider:
- Pressure cooking resulted in 90% retention of vitamin C in broccoli versus boiling (34%) and steaming (22%)
- Using a pressure cooker resulted in better retention of ascorbic acid and beta-carotene in spinach and amaranth leaves
- Pressure cooking has been shown to reduce phytic acid in peas by 54% versus boiling (29%), which helps with digestion
- Pressure cooking can reduce lectins in grains, making digestion easier
- Cooking under pressure makes meat more tender and more tender meat is easier for bodies to digest
If you are interested in pressure cooking but do not own one yet, there are many high-quality, safe, inexpensive pressure cookers available. We recommend the Instant Pot. These table-top pressure cookers cost between $70 and $180.
Believe us, once you try a pressure cooker, you’ll be hooked. Good luck finding the time to cook with anything else.