Pressure cookers are not cheap and are an investment for any kitchen. Before we buy one we always want to make sure if they are worth the money and the space they will occupy in our valuable kitchen real estate.
In this post we will do a point by point comparison of pressure cookers against the traditional non pressure cooked methods and see if it scores better or not on parameters like Cooking time, Cost, Nutrition, Flavors and Safety.
This article should help you decide if the pressure cooker investment is really worth it for your needs.
As for me, been using them for more than 15 years and can’t function without them.
- Why is pressure cooking different from traditional methods of cooking?
- Cooking Time
- Energy Efficient
- Manual Intervention
- Ease of Use
- Learning Curve
- Easy kitchen clean up
- Contains the smell of food
- Does not make the kitchen hot
- Related Post
Why is pressure cooking different from traditional methods of cooking?
Pressure cookers use a cooking method that is a combination of high heat and pressure which is very different from any other cooking methods.
The combination of heat and pressure cooks the food evenly from all sides and much faster compared to any other traditional cooking method.
Now that we understand why pressure cooking is different, let’s compare it based on different parameters we listed:-
While traditional cooking methods cook food usually at the boiling point of water which is 100°C (212°F). Inside a pressure cooker the pressure is much higher and it makes the water boil at 121°C (250°F). The heat and the high pressure steam cook the food evenly from all sides and at much faster speed.
|Food Item||Cooking Time on Stove Top||Cooking time with a Pressure Cooker|
|Rice||15-20 mins||5-7 mins|
|Dry Beans||1 hrs – 1.5 hrs||25 – 30 mins|
|Chickpeas||1.5 hrs – 2 hrs||45 mins – 1 hr|
|Meat pot roast||3-3.5 hrs||35-40 mins|
As you can see from the time comparison table, pressure cooking takes around 30% time for cooking the same amount of food.
As the food is cooked much faster when pressure cooked, it take less energy to cook as well. This results in fuel energy and cost savings.
Pressure cooking is known to save around 70% of energy and fuel costs that you would have spent by cooking the same food stove top.
Money invested in buying a pressure cooker gives continuous returns as savings in the energy costs.
Modern pressure cookers are very safe and have a lot of checks built in to keep our kitchens and us safe. We need to make sure that we follow the manual and instructions as advised. We have also listed some common mistakes that can lead to pressure cooker accidents and how to avoid them.
There is definitely more safety concern to follow all the instructions when using a pressure cooker compared to any other method of cooking.
Pressure cookers do not need babysitting compared to traditional cooking methods like boiling, steaming etc.
In traditional methods one has to monitor and make sure that liquid levels are retained and the food is cooked as per the cook’s needs.
Most pressure cookers now have an auto turn off option so once the food has been cooked the pressure cooker lowers the temperature to keep warm mode or shuts down completely.
Ease of Use
Once you have passed the initial hump of learning the pressure cooking basics then you will find pressure cooking as the easiest way to cook. It eliminates the need for multiple steps. You can saute and then pressure cook in the same pressure cooker making easy one pot meals.
You do not have to defrost the meat anymore, and can use frozen meat and other frozen ingredients directly when pressure cooking.
There have been a lot of studies on pressure cooking and there are studies that are in favor and some that are against pressure cooking. However, as noted by the study here, there was no difference in the nutritional quality of beans when cooked in the microwave or in the pressure cooker.
However, when a similar study was done for vegetables, it was found that there were more losses in nutritional value when the vegetables are pressure cooked instead of boiled.
If you are looking to cook only vegetables then steaming retains the highest nutritional value.
The pressure cooker will slowly become your go to for all the cooking needs as you can use the pressure cooker to cook beans, meat, chickpeas and a lot of other things.
When you are not pressure cooking you can also use the pressure cooker base like an extra sauce pan in case you need one.
It’s not a one trick pony like say may be kitchen equipment like a rice cooker or a steamer and can be used for a variety of cooking methods like sautéing, braising, boiling, stewing and poaching.
The modern pressure cookers or instant pots also have sophisticated features like delay function.
So you can have the instant pots on delay and when you are back from work or wake up in the morning the food is already ready and cooked for you.
Not many traditional cooking options offer this flexibility of delaying the cooking as per your convenience.
Ongoing maintenance of the pressure cooker does require some detailed inspection of the parts to make sure that everything works as expected. The vent pipe should be checked every time the pressure cooker is used. The gasket should be checked periodically to ensure it fits snugly and is not very loose.
The safety valve should be checked time to time and should be used from the right brand.
It’s very important to ensure safety and avert any accidents.
Pressure cooking has a learning curve to it. There are a lot of parts to a pressure cooker that one needs to know and how to use it. This can take some time and can be overwhelming for the beginners. You can make the transition process gradual to pressure cooking while using these alternatives for the pressure cooker.
Most pressure cookers are dishwasher friendly, make sure that you check the manual to verify that. I clean my stove top pressure cooker and its lid in a dishwasher on a regular cycle, no special treatment is needed.
Please make sure that you read the manual for your pressure cooker on how to clean it.
This makes pressure cookers easy to clean and maintain over time.
Easy kitchen clean up
It is much easier to clean your kitchen when cooking with a pressure cooker as there is no spluttering of food outside and no messes to be cleaned later.
These are very common with open pot cooking where food and oil sputters out as cooking and can be difficult to contain.
Pressure Cooking preserves the flavors more than boiling the food but sometimes after pressure cooking the food needs to be cooked a little longer without the pressure cooker lid to let the flavors develop.
For certain food groups flavors are better if they are pan fried or fried as compared to pressure cooked like potatoes, green beans etc.
Contains the smell of food
The pressure cooker creates an airtight chamber within which the cooking happens.
This airtight cooking ensures that the steam cannot escape and also captures the smell of the food being cooked. It does not leave your entire house smelling like curry by containing it within.
While good food smell does make our mouth water but don’t want our entire house smelling like it though.
Does not make the kitchen hot
When pressure cooking the hot air within the pressure cooker does not come in contact with the air outside.
This prevents the temperature around from rising as the heat is contained within the pressure cooker.
So you can cook without breaking a sweat no matter how much time a dish takes to cook.
Based on all the reasons stated, pressure cookers are definitely worth it if you cook a lot of dry beans, meat and other items that take time to cook on stove top as they cut down cooking time significantly.
While you might not use it to cook all the meals, it truly is exceptional when cooking grains and meats whether its rice, quinoa, wheat, pot roast.
As you use the pressure cooker and get familiar with it, it will slowly become the easiest and quickest tool for almost all of your cooking needs.
But if you are new to pressure cooking and still navigating your way around it then you can use these alternatives to pressure cookers until you feel more comfortable investing in one.
If you are in marked looking for one this post compares the Aluminum and Steel ones to help you decide which one to choose.
Do let us know your thoughts on if you think if pressure cookers are worth it for your kitchen.