Is Pressure Cooking Healthy?

Is Pressure Coking Healthy

Pressure cooking is only a few hundred years old, and it only really became popular for home use in the last century. When I was a child, using first-generation pressure cookers was still considered a bit dangerous. They didn’t have all the built-in safety mechanisms of modern pressure cookers. I’ll never forget how I first learned about pressure cookers. I was eight, and I saw one explode. Spaghetti sauce on the ceiling! On the cabinets!

Those ceiling stains never really went away. They had to be painted over many years later.

As an adult, I didn’t give pressure cooking much thought one way or the other. From traditional foodies I’d heard that pressure cooking is not healthy. “It’s hard on nutrients,” they say. “It cooks at really high temperatures when humans historically cook foods slowly over fire.” Because I’ll almost always stand by the wisdom of my ancestors when it comes to food, this argument made a lot of sense.

But then I started hearing from more and more traditional foodies who use pressure cookers to make excellent, gelatinous broth in a quarter the cooking time. Why did their broth always turn so gelatinous when mine was so hit or miss? If pressure cooking is so hard on nutrients, how can it make such perfect broth with the tell-tale presence of perfect gelatin?

That’s when I decided to delve into how pressure cooking works and decide for myself once and for all if it’s a healthy way to cook.

How Pressure Cooking Works

Almost all foods contain water, be they meat, veggies, or fruit. When we cook food, we’re essentially transferring heat from our heat source through the food. As the food heats up, a variety of molecular changes happen, ultimately resulting in cooked food. The primary changes have to do with the heating and transferring of water molecules.

The single greatest limiting factor on how long it takes to cook food is the boiling point of water.

Folks who live at high altitudes know this first hand. Their air pressure is lower, and so their water boils at lower temperatures. (In the mile-high city of Denver, for example, water boils at 204F, and in the camps on Mount Everest water boils at 160F. For those of us at sea level, it boils at 212F.)

Cooking at these lower air pressures affects cook times for many foods since water will begin evaporating sooner and drying out the food more quickly.

Translation? In a low-pressure environment, cooking times on moist foods must be increased. Turning up the heat will not help cook food faster! That’s because the temperature of water will never exceed it’s own boiling point — any higher temperatures and all you’ve got is steam.

Theoretically, if you were at a high enough altitude, you could boil water at room temperature. Boiling, therefore, isn’t really a product of temperature at all, but of pressure!

By increasing pressure, you raise the boiling point of water.

Just as cooking times are lengthened by cooking at the lower air pressure of higher altitudes, cooking times are decreased by cooking at the higher air pressure created by a pressure cooker. That’s why you can pressure cook chicken broth in an hour or two instead of eight or twelve. It’s also why you can pressure cook grass-fed pot roasts in just an hour as opposed to cooking them in your oven for four.

Because the boiling point of the water inside a pressure cooker is elevated, you can cook the food at a slightly higher temperature and avoid water loss. In cooking, liquid loss equals over-cooking, drying out, or burning your food. By avoiding water loss while maintaining higher temperatures, your food cooks more quickly.

What are those slightly higher temperatures? Most pressure cookers will raise the boiling point of water inside them to around 225-235F. This is lower than the lowest setting on Crock Pots, which is usually 250F. It’s also only a 13-23 degree difference from the boiling point of water at sea level — the same difference found between the boiling point of water in Miami and La Paz.

Traditionally, before the invention of modern pressure cookers (which are essentially pots with really well-sealed lids), cooks used to try to accomplish this faster cooking time by weighing down the lids of their pots with stones. This prompted one French inventor to created the first mechanically sealed lid for a pot in 1679 (the lid was screwed in place and weighed down with weights). Pressure cooking was born.

pressure cookers throughout history

Is Pressure Cooking Healthy?

The biggest argument against pressure cooking by those who think it’s unhealthy is that pressure cooking must be bad for the nutrients in the food because you’re cooking them at higher temperatures and higher pressures.

It’s like saying the cooking method is dangerous, well just because! For reasons!

It’s like arguing that food cooked in Miami (where the boiling point of water is 212F) is somehow less nutritious than food cooked in an Andean or Himalayan village (where the boiling point of water is 190F) just because the air pressure and boiling point are higher in Miami.

Did you know that in numerous studies, pressure cooking has been found to preserve the nutrients in food better than any other method?

vitamin retention by cooking methods

In this study, pressure cooking was shown to be the best method for preserving the ascorbic acid and beta-carotene in spinach and amaranth. And in a March 2007 study published in the The Journal of Food Science pressure cooking broccoli preserved 90% of its vitamin C compared to steaming (78%) and boiling (66%).

“But how is that possible?” you ask. “Doesn’t the higher temperature destroy the nutrients?”

Nope.

Pressure cooking preserves nutrients by reducing cook times.

It turns out that higher cooking temperatures don’t destroy any more nutrients than lower cooking temperatures. If a temperature is high enough to start destroying heat-sensitive nutrients, then those heat-sensitive nutrients will be lost regardless of whether the cooking temperature is 119F or 350F.

It’s not the temperature that matters, but the cooking time!

By cooking foods for shorter lengths of time, pressure cookers preserve the nutrients better, despite cooking at higher temperatures.

Pressure cooking preserves nutrients by using less water.

Why do health and nutrition experts always tell you to give preference to steaming vegetables over boiling them?

Because the nutrients leach out of the vegetable and into the water, and then we dump the water out when serving the veggies!

Pressure cooking uses very little water compared to many other cooking methods, essentially acting like a steam cooker where the steam is not allowed to escape easily (thereby building the air pressure). Less water comes into contact with your food to leach away vitamins and minerals.

And if you do as recommended and let your pressure cooker cool naturally before removing the lid so that the steam condenses back into the small amount of liquid in the pot, you can consume all the liquid with your meal and limit the loss of nutrients to water even further.

Pressure cooking makes grains and legumes more digestible by reducing phytic acid and lectins.

Yep, you read that right. The great enemies found in grains, seeds, and legumes are reduced far more by pressure cooking than by boiling.

In this study done on peas, the phytic acid content of peas soaked overnight and then boiled was only reduced by 29%. But in peas that had been soaked overnight and pressure cooked, the phytic acid was reduced by 54%!

Phytic acid binds minerals and other important nutrients in our digestive tract, keeping us from using them. By reducing the phytic acid content of grains and legumes, we increase their nutrient-availability and render them more digestible.

Pressure cooking is also on par with fermentation as the best way to reduce the lectins (yet another anti-nutrient) in grains.

Turns out, pressure cooking may be the best possible way to cook your soaked beans and grains!

What about acrylamides and other carcinogens?

Yes, high-temperature cooking of some foods, like potatoes, does cause the formation of carcinogenic compounds like acrylomides. But those same compounds will not form in a pressure cooker! That’s because of all the steam trapped in the cooker. Those compounds mostly form in dry cooking methods like roasting or grilling, or in an ultra high-temperature environment like deep frying.

Swiss researchers wanted to test this and found that potatoes cooked at high pressure for 20 minutes had almost no acrylamide formation when compared to other high-temperature cooking methods. (And since a potato will be done after about 10 minutes at high pressure, this was definitely overkill!)

But, doesn’t pressure cooking still denature proteins in the food?

Yes. And so does every other cooking method out there! That is, in fact, one of the primary things that cooking is intended to do. It begins the process of breaking down the proteins in the food, making the food easier for us to digest and assimilate. “Denaturing” the proteins is what causes tough stew meat to become tender when cooked. You want denatured proteins. That’s why you cook your food.

In fact, pressure-cooking arguably increases the digestibility of protein, as shown in this study that found that pressure-cooking soaked peas brought their protein digestibility up to 84%, compared to 81% for those peas that were just soaked and boiled normally. (Interestingly, it drops all the way down to just 74% when the peas are unsoaked and then boiled. YAY soaking!)

And, it’s not just peas. Many studies have been done on how pressure-cooking increases the digestibility of proteins, including this one done with mung beans and this one done with rice. It’s even been shown to make meat more tender than boiling does (and more tender meat is demonstrably easier for our bodies to digest).

So, is pressure cooking healthy?

What do you think? For me, it’s a resounding yes.

It may not be ideal for all things. Vegetables, for example, easily turn to mush in pressure cookers if you’re not super exact and attentive about timing.

But it can dramatically reduce cooking times and increase the digestibility of legumes and grains, so I’ve got no problems with that. I even found a recipe for pressure cooker risotto I’m dying to try. (I really dislike the constant stirring necessary for the “real” stuff.)

And, it can be an excellent choice for last-minute meals. If I miss putting my roast or roundsteak into my crockpot at mid-morning, I can easily begin pressure cooking that same meal later in the afternoon and still have a “fast” dinner on the table that didn’t require us eating out (or eating scrambled eggs!) because of my poor planning.

Thoughts?

What about the argument that it’s unnatural or not traditional?

Maybe I’ve convinced you that pressure cooking can be healthy. But you still hesitate because it’s not been a historically embraced method of cooking. Creating a pressure difference like this is unnatural, you say.

Here’s the deal. The difference in the boiling point of water in a pressure cooker vs. Miami (sea level) is the exact same difference found between Miami and La Paz. That translates into WIDELY DIFFERENT cook times for roast — a difference of many hours.

So ask yourself if the roast in Miami is somehow less nutritious or digestible than the roast made in LaPaz. The answer is no.

And that’s because in both places, you cooked the roast until it was done and no longer. Both roasts had the same water loss. The only reason one took far less time to cook was that the higher air pressure meant that you could cook it at a higher temperature before you started losing too much water and overcooking the food.

I get that pressure cookers aren’t traditional, but neither is my convection toaster oven or my immersion blender. In all these cases, we’re just using technology to make our cooking more efficient.

It’s not “unnatural,” but wise to take our breaks where we can get them.

The fact is that the science shows pressure cooking is healthy, that it can preserve more heat-sensitive nutrients than any other cooking method because of its shorter cook times. The fact is that the difference it creates in the boiling point of water is well within the range of a normal difference on this planet.

Again, it’s the same difference we see between Miami and La Paz. If you used a pressure cooker in La Paz, it would mean that you were cooking your food in the length of time folks living in Florida take for granted. Would that be somehow unnatural or wrong? No. It would be like cooking in Miami! And La Paz isn’t even the highest city out there. There are plenty of others that exceed it in altitude by a mile or more. Their boiling points are even lower! Their cook times even longer!

Pressure cookers just use technology and a nifty trick of physics to act like a great equalizer. It just so happens that for those of us who live nearer to sea level, who aren’t used to adjusting recipes for altitude and pressure (unlike folks who live at some seriously high elevations), the difference in cook times seems somehow shocking and unheard of.

Thinking about buying a pressure cooker?

You’re not alone! I just acquired my first one and wrote a review of it here.

(where to buy pressure cookers)

This post has been edited from its original content, in large part because of some interesting and stimulating Facebook discussions we’ve had about it. Basically, I just compressed the most salient facts from those other discussions into a new section titled “What about the argument that it’s unnatural or not traditional?”. I also clarified the meaning of a couple sentences elsewhere in the post. Thanks for all your help fine tuning this! You guys are awesome.

(top photo by sfllaw)

(vitamin chart data source)

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While I adore hats & happy skirts, nothing inspires me quite like geeking out over nutrition & sustainable agriculture.
My name is Kristen Michaelis, author extraordinaire and rebel with a cause.

Comments

  1. says

    Wonderful post! I’ve been wondering about this. A quick question though: somewhere in Nourishing Traditions, they conjecture that you should discard cooking water after cooking veggies. Do you generally save yours? What would be the rationale for tossing the cooking water?

    Also, the engineer in me just had to point out that boiling point is absolutely a function of temperature, it is just additionally a function of pressure.

    Thanks again for exploring this topic a little more in depth. Very helpful!

    • KristenM says

      Hi Danielle,

      If I recall correctly, Nourishing Traditions calls for discarding the water only in certain circumstances:

      1. If you’re using conventionally-grown produce, since pesticides, nitrates, and other residues from the industrial growing process leach out into the water. So, it’s a “safe” way to consume these non-organic veggies.

      2. If you’re trying to reduce oxalate consumption because you’re at risk for kidney stones, etc., then they recommend discarding the cooking water for high-oxalate foods like broccoli.

      I usually save mine because neither of the above apply all that often, plus the only time I boil veggies is when adding them to soups or stews. (And, of course, you EAT the cooking liquid, then.)

  2. AmandaC says

    Could you share a recipe and tell us how you make bone broth in the pressure cooker? Mine never gels, either, and I would love to learn how to make a rich gelatinous broth with a faster method.

    • KristenM says

      I actually haven’t made anything with a pressure cooker yet! I’ve only just decided that the notion that they’re somehow dangerous or “hard on nutrients” is bogus.

      I do *have* a pressure cooker that I researched and now own. I’ll probably write a post soon about how to pick a good pressure cooker, or maybe write a review of the one I got.

      I think making broth in a pressure cooker will be simple. All the recipes I’ve seen are practically identical to normal ones, but they’re just in the pressure cooker for a total of an hour to an hour and a half (including a slow-release depressurizing time).

    • ChrisG says

      I get amazing broth from bones using my pressure cooker. The key for me is not to cook for a short time but a good long time. Throw your carcass in, throw in water and whatever seasoning you want, crank it to high until it is venting like crazy then cut it back to just the edge of where it’ll continue to rock and cook for about 2-2.5 hours. We make a huge batch of broth from our Thanksgiving turkey carcass and even in a pressure canner sized cooker it renders enough gelatin to almost turn to jelly in the fridge. We bag it up and freeze it for soups the rest of the year. And best of all, it renders your poultry bones safe for dogs to eat because by the time they spend 2 hours in a pressure cooker, the bones will crumble in your fingers like canned salmon bones. Our dogs love us.

  3. says

    I bought my pressure cooker which is a heavy duty stainless steel about 25 years ago when I was eating lots of grains. About 2 years ago, I stopped eating grains and haven’t used it since. Then I found out about bone broth and was cooking them for a day or two in my crockpot on stovetop. Then I found this recipe http://nomnompaleo.com/post/16004110328/quick-pressure-cooker-bone-broth and just love it that the cooking time is cut way back, as in 30-60 minutes depending on which bones I’m using. As far as getting the chicken broth to gel,as long as I use chicken feet it’s a super gel! With meat bones, I use Bernard Jensen Products – 100% Pure Gelatin and it does the trick!

    I’m happily loving my pressure cooker again!

    • KristenM says

      Neat! Thanks for sharing her recipe. I saw it when she posted it about a month ago. I just didn’t know if it made a gelatinous broth since the cooking time was so short. (Most of the recipes that I’ve seen that promise a gelatinous broth require at least an hour.)

      I figured I’d experiment with my own and see what happened!

  4. Jennifer says

    totally crazy!! I’ve avoided pressure cookers for this reason. and I have a nice one outside that I have never used. good thing I am a packrat! thanks for doing the research. :)

  5. says

    I also recall growing up my mom had an old pressure cooker and it steamed and whistled and I was so scared of that thing… I don’t know if we ever had anything blow, but oh boy, I stayed out of the kitchen during those times…

    This is also why I haven’t used a pressure cooker yet in my adult life. I need to get one with those safety features so I am not fearing for my life while I cook dinner :)

  6. Courtney says

    Thanks for doing the research. I have a great Magafesa pressure cooker that I used several times a week until I heard about WAPF and started cooking (mostly) that way. I got rid of several things in my kitchen (the nonstick) but the pressure cooker was too expensive to discard and I was afraid I would regret it later so I kept it. I have occasionally used it over the past 10 years when I am really desperate and didn’t plan ahead but always with guilt. Hooray! I can bring it back into rotation and feel good about it! Thank you thank you.

    • KristenM says

      You are so welcome!

      I’m excited to try out some recipes and see if I can get the hang of it.

      Everyone I know who uses or used pressure cookers loved how convenient they were.

      Reduced cooking times ROCK THE WORLD.

  7. Trellowyn says

    I’ve had a pressure cooker for about 10 yrs and sadly don’t utilize it nearly as much as I should. I can attest to the part about making meat more tender though. The one thing I religiously use my cooker for is a winter beef stew. I cube up the toughest, chewiest cut of beef I can find and throw it into the pot with some broth, water, red wine, tomatoes, onions, garlic, diced potatoes, peas and a bay leaf for the designated amount of time (roughly 20 minutes after it gets up to whistling temp) and then add the quick barley, carrots and green beans afterwards. It makes the most tender beef and richest broth. Something important to note: don’t be tempted to wedge the safety valve open to let it depressurize faster. Your beef won’t be tender. I think it’s similar to letting a roast sit for 15 minutes before you carve it. It soaks up the necessary juices and just makes it fall apart. And the broth is still hot enough that you only need about 20 more minutes for the remaining veggies and grain to finish. (I’ve tried to add traditional barley at the beginning, but it foams up and makes a huge mess.)

    I am also curious about doing a good bone broth and would love to see a piece on it in the future.

  8. Stephanie says

    I’m confused. If a pressure cooker cooks at around 235 degrees and a crock pot at around 250 degrees then we’re NOT cooking with higher temps in the pressure cooker, right? What am I not understanding? Do they say it’s a higher temp because of the pressure?

    • Trellowyn says

      If I had to take a stab at it, I would say that less heat escapes the pressure cooker (sans the safety release valve), than a traditional one on the stove or a crock pot with just a loose lid. Therefore more energy is directed at whatever is being cooked and not wasted. That is a pretty simplistic explanation though. :>

    • KristenM says

      Yes, they say it’s higher temperatures because of the pressure. Essentially, the boiling point of water inside the pressure cooker is higher, so the internal temperature of the food can go higher before overcooking the food.

    • says

      The crock pot’s heating element may get to 250 degrees, but if you’re cooking something inside that’s mainly water, the actual cooking liquid won’t get above 212 (boiling point). It may be different for bread/baking in a crockpot, but there’s no way a crockpot can heat water (or broth that’s mostly water) above 212 degrees unless you put a weight on top to hold the lid down and make it a pressure cooker. :)

      • says

        Even with a weight on your crock pot, you cannot turn it into a pressure cooker. The pressure cooker has a special valve that lets the air out and a gasket to make the pot seal. Without those, you cannot increase the pressure.

        I think that you are kidding, anyway.

        The pressure cooker is an amazing piece of kitchen equiptment. I have been teaching people how to use one for more than 16 years. I have a book on pressure cooking: The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less than 30 Minutes. Probably not “right” for this group but teaches a lot about pressure cooking.

        • Sigrid Trombley says

          Just caught this post from Jill Nussinow. I own the pressure cooking cookbook of hers that she mentions (The New Fast Food …) and can tell Food Renegade Readers that it has wonderful recipes and is a very helpful resource on pressure cooking as well.

  9. Victoria says

    Thank you so much for this article! I quit using my pressure cooker because of the “Loss of nutrients” misinformation. I grew up with my mom using one and so I did, too. I’m so happy to start using it again! YAY!

  10. says

    I make risotto (very similar recipe to Cook’s Illustrated linked above) in my pressure cooker and lots of different beans too on a regular basis. I’d love to branch out into other things, but just these two items keep my pressure cooker in use one or two days a week. I’ll have to try making broth and stew, they seem like logical next steps.

  11. Gwen B. says

    Thank you because I have been looking for this answer for many months and have asked many “experts” without any answers. This is absolutely terrific news.

  12. Mariruth says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I always used a pressure cooker before transitioning in to real/nourishing healthy foods. I quit when I read it destroyed the nutrients. Yippee! I can now use my pressure cooker! So happy here! :)

  13. Sandy says

    I’ve had my pressure cooker over thirty years. Makes the best whole roasted chicken, and pot roast ever. I put a ceramic bowl that fits perfectly inside of it for the pot roast, and a cavity rack for the chicken, because I don’t like that aluminum insert, makes everything taste funny. Oh and when I make bone broth, I roast the bones in the oven first then crack them with the back of a heavy knife.

    • KristenM says

      Thanks for the tips, Sandy!

      Hey, do you have a link to the kind of cavity rack you’re using? I’d like to avoid aluminum, too

      Mine comes with a steamer insert that’s made from the same stainless steel as the pressure cooker itself, but it’s not deep enough to use for something like chicken.

  14. says

    HURRAY!!!!!! This article couldn’t have come at a better time. We have been pressure cooking for about a year and loving it. Then I started to believe all of the “pressure cooking kills nutrients” hype. Thank you for looking into this and sharing what you found. I am putting the pressure cooker back on the kitchen counter. I am literally jumping for joy in my heart :)
    Anya
    @ MyGardenHaven AND Real Food San Diego @RealFoodSD

  15. Erica says

    I absolutely love my pressure cooker! Last year I replaced my 20+ year old one with a nice Kuhn rikon. Pressure cooker. The blogs hip pressure cooking. And dad cooks dinner
    Both have lots of good recipes. Hard boiled eggs cooked in the pressure cooker come out perfect and they are very easy to peel. Enjoy pressure cooking. I’m looking forward to reading some pressure cooking posts from you.

  16. Beth says

    I’m also in love with my pressure cooker. I’ve been using it to cook (sprouted) beans in a fraction of the time. I’e also done eggs and stews. I can’t imagine cooking without it at this point!

  17. Kristine Winniford says

    Very cool!! I’ve used mine the past two nights (mine is pressure canner/cooker that I’d only used for canning before). The first was a grass-fed roast that cooked in 1 hour and was delectable and then last night we did “fried chicken” which was delicous and tender but not crispy like fried chicken. It cooked in 12 minutes (whole chicken cut into 6 pieces). I have to try broth next. A question though, my cooker (all-american) specifically says NOT to cook beans or peas because the frothing can plug up then vent and create and unsafe conditions. Is this specific to my cooker?

    • Desiree says

      My mom have me my first pressure cooker and canner. I love the pressure cooker! Haven’t used the canner yet because I need to get a new seal for it. We will definitely be using it next summer and fall to can the produce from our garden. I hadn’t thought of making broth in it though. I’ll have to put that on my list of things to make with it. I definitely want a bigger pressure cooker because the one I have is about the size if a medium sauce pan. I love the jiggle weight that my older style cooker and canner have; I can just listen from another room and I don’t have to be right there watching the gauge.

    • says

      I have an All American pressure canner too, but hesitate to put food directly in it because it is made of cast aluminum. Is the inside of the pressure canner also aluminum and is it safe for cooking food in it?

      Btw I love my pressure canner. I can do both water bath and pressure canning. Although I don’t cook our dinners in it; I do pressure can the leftovers in glass jars for a time saver later on some night when no one feels like cooking:)

  18. Bonnie says

    I have cooked with a pressure cooker for years. One tip that I learned quite some time ago for beans and other legumes… instead of soaking them overnight before cooking, place them in the pressure cooker with just enough water to cover them. Bring the pot to pressure and cook for just five minutes. The result is the same as if you had soaked them overnight.

  19. says

    Good to know! Does the same apply to pressure canning?? My pressure canner/cooker is aluminum, so if I were to cook in one, I think I’d want to go with stainless steel.

    • KristenM says

      I really have no idea about pressure canning!

      The only thing I do know is that home-canned goods are surely better for me than industrially-canned ones.

      I think it’d be an interesting topic to research. The only things I’ve canned are tomatoes — mostly because I love them so much I don’t want to go without their flavor during the winter!

      For people who put up great, big harvests, though, I think the nutrient-preservation question would definitely be worth looking into!

    • Emily says

      The same principles apply to pressure canning. I love to “raw pack” roast and stew beef. Just slice it about 1″ thick, pack a jar with slices, and add 1/2 tsp of real salt we pint jar. Can according to your canner’s directions at 11lb for 75 minutes for pint jars, 90 mins for quarts. The meat cooks in the jars and will come out meltingly tender. Makes the best beef tips and stew! And, of course, since the meat only touches glass, there’s no worry about aluminum.

  20. says

    Great article. I never used a pressure cooker before I met my husband and now I use it almost every single day. His mom uses it as the principle way to prepare food as do most Moroccans I have met. It took a little while to get a hang of using it but I love it now. I cook meat, vegetables and legumes. I haven´t made my bone broth in it though… I let it simmer all day on the stove. I was under the impression that the pressure cooker wasn’t good to make bone broth but will definitely do it that way now. Much much faster. thanks again!

  21. Leah G says

    Wow…I have a HUGE pressure canner. I gave it to my husband to dip the chickens in to pluck them since I no longer used it to cook/can with since I was so worried I was killing all the nutrients. Now I have a freezer full of frozen veggies from our garden. Next year I’ll be canning again.

    • Emily says

      Keep total processing time in mind when thinking about nutrients. Frozen veggies are in hot water for a couple minutes to blanch, and a couple minutes to reheat. Canned veggies are in the canner for over an hour, then should be boiled at a full rolling boil for ten minutes after you open the jar. So nutrient loss in pressure canned veg is very real. Pressure cooking meat and grains drastically shortens cooking time, which is what makes the difference.

  22. Jen says

    As far as preserving nutrients, I don’t know. But as far as digestibility and tenderness – the lower temperature and reduced loss of moisture is the key. I’ve certainly experienced that plenty with using the crockpot or slow baking methods, and heard that many times from the stories of traditional peoples always having a pot going. Low and slow as they say.

    This doesn’t conflict with one of your key points at all: “Pressure cooking preserves nutrients by using less water.” But I disagree on the time point when it comes to digestibility.

    This post also makes me wonder more about waterless cookware.

    Thanks for a great post to help explain how pressure cookers work!

  23. Dave, RN says

    Ironically enough, I don’t use my pressure cooker becasue it takes FOREVER to get up to pressure and then comedown. It’s large (it can hold 12 quart jars) so maybe I just need a smaller one.
    Also… it’s made of aluminum, and I think that the aluminum leeches into whatever I am cooking. Can you shed some light on this.

    • KristenM says

      Don’t cook your food in aluminum! The pressure cooker I got is a safe stainless steel variety with no aluminum that comes in contact with the cooking surface.

      So, for you, I’d recommend buying a new one. Have one for canning and one for meals. I know we all love all-in-one, money-saving type things, but I’d never cook with an aluminum surface touching my food. A safe, smaller pressure cooker for meals really isn’t all that expensive.

      Hmmm. This is *really* making me think I should write my post about choosing pressure cookers, or at least write a post reviewing the one I have.

      • says

        Yes, please! At least tell us which pressure cooker you chose. Just to give us an idea. I kept going back and forth on the idea of buying one. I might have to rethink it for Christmas this year. hmmmm. thanks

      • Sigrid Trombley says

        Agree Kristen, posting an article on choosing a pressure cooker would be helpful to your readers, especially since there is no longer a distributor for the BRKs in the US.

  24. Krissy says

    My mom never had one, so I don’t really know much about them. Thanks for this post, very interesting! I’m looking forward to additional posts.

  25. Lel says

    I can relate to your story about the pressure cooker blowing up on our mom Kristen. My mother opened her pressure cooker too soon when cooking great northern beans on a pot belly stove and the beans blew up in her face and ceiling. After that episode, I was scared death of pressure cookers.

    When I was in my 20’s I tried cooking with a Presto pressure cooker for a while and had pretty good success. About 5 years ago, I bought a 7 qt Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker and I love it. It was a little pricey but the cooker is 10 times better than the Presto I had and it does not have anything that rocks or giggles on the lid. The pressure guage on the lid slowly rises to the desired pressure and there is no hissing or whistling from the pot.

    I cook my beans and have cooked chicken broth (which only takes 30 minutes cooking time). Recently, I stopped making my broth in the pressure cooker because I thought it had to cook for a long time in order to get the full benefits so I’m glad for your post.

  26. Sara says

    Oooh, you have me totally intrigued! I live in Morocco where just about every home has switched from the long cooking tagines to pressure cookers. I was under the assumption that they lost a treasured process in their cooking, but now I’m rethinking that! Where would you find a table for cooking times of different foods? This is a great post, thank you!

  27. says

    I am very pleased with this post as I’d run across SOME of this research and had considered posting something similar myself. Additionally, I’m not certain the objection to microwaves is valid. But that’s another topic.

    WRT to pressure canning, it is not the same as pressure cooking. With pressure cooking, you are cooking at a higher pressure and temperature, but a shorter time, which is why the nutrients are retained.

    Pressure canning cooks at a longer time, as it takes a good bit of time to kill all botulism to the very middle of the can.

    I don’t have the research at my fingertips, but it seems like it was vitamin C they were measuring, and yes a lot is destroyed by pressure canning.

    The only thing that is worst for preserving food is dehydration, which is so long a “cook” time that the vitamin C is nearly all gone by the time the stuff is dried.

    When preserving foods, the methods that maximize nutrition are fermenting > root cellaring > freezing > water bath canning > pressure canning > dehydrating.

    I do not know the effects of the various preservation methods on antinutrients though. My guess is that fermenting is best, then probably pressure canning and finally water bath canning, (since they involve soaking during the cooking).

    Practically speaking, when I began pressure canning, I discovered rapidly that I didn’t like home canned veggies anymore than store bought; canned veggies are soggy. The exceptions being my water-bath canned pickles and pressure-canned corn and tomatoes.

    So over the years, I eventually wound up only using the pressure canner to make meals. Like if I made chili, I’d double the recipe, make it in a stockpot instead of a Dutch oven and can half the chili. This provides us with home-cooked meals when no one feels like cooking. And when hubby was an over-the-road truck driver, he had homecooked meals to take with him which even with the nutrient loss, beat the heck out of anything he could buy on the road.

    So I don’t do much pressure canning anymore. I tend to freeze and dehydrate for preservation.

    As to pressure COOKING, it is a lifesaver in summer, when I just don’t want to simmer my stockpot for hours. In winter, I like the stockpot, as it hydrates the house which gets dry from the heat (and if not making stock, I often have cinnamon, clvoes and citrus peels simmering just for the hydration and a nice smell).

    But in summer, I’m just not likely to make stock without a pressure cooker. On GAPS, one goes through about a gallon of stock a week, so you need to make it a LOT. So I decided even though the GAPS book says no pressure cooker, that I was going to need one.

    That’s when I looked for the research that it was bad to use and discovered it looked BETTER than the stockpot nutritionally speaking.

    I also do batches of beans, and freeze in 2-cup portions to use in recipes (which is pretty close to a can of beans). So… if I need a can of navy beans for a recipe this week, after soaking or sprouting, I pressure cook a pound, and freeze the excess for future recipes.

    I have a big pressure canner, this one: http://www.amazon.com/All-American-2-Quart-Pressure-Cooker-Canner/dp/B00004S893/ref=sr_1_3?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1354815867&sr=1-3&keywords=pressure+canner which I liked because it had both the dial and the weights so you can calibrate it yourself. I liked it enough that I bought my daughter one too; she doesn’t have a chest freezer and needs to be able to can her stock.

    But it is to big to fit in my sink, so can’t be easily cleaned. Thus I don’t want to COOK in it, just can.

    So I bought a Presto pressure cooker: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00002N602/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00002N602&linkCode=as2&tag=gafot2di-20

    I recommend buying a BIGGER pressure cooker than I did. I thought the 4-quart was quite sufficient for 2 people, but did not realize you can only fill it halfway when cooking beans or peas, and 2/3 way when making soups, stews or braises. So I wish I’d gotten the 6-quart.

    Still, I love it and find it works great for stock.

    I can do a chicken carcass from a roasted chicken or a few pounds of necks and backs (my farmer sells these cheap) and it makes a VERY concentrated stock that not only gels but has a thick layer of minerals on the bottom and a nice fat cap on top.

    • KristenM says

      Thanks for pointing out the differences between pressure CANNING and pressure COOKING!

      I should probably write a post about it, too.

      • Jennifer says

        I would love a specific post on pressure canning. I’ve stayed away from canning my broth because I don’t want to lost the trace minerals and other nutrients that make it so healthy. People’s comments here on pressure canning are helpful but they are based on mainly on experience not science. If you do research this more, I’m all ears. Thanks for all of your hard work!

    • says

      @jpatti I think we agree that pressure canning has a great place in the kitchen for preservig food that is shelf stable and ready to eat for the busy family. I’m not sure agree completely with the idea that pressure canning causes the most loss of nutrients. I think it depends on what you are canning in it. Canning times for many things are shorter than if done in water bath, and you can’t even do very many savory foods in a water bath canner. I hardly ever water bath can because most of what you can WB has to be full of sugar or acid to be safely WB canned. When I do canned tomatoes I only have to pressure can for 15 minutes per quart. (no vinegar required tomatoes taste great) It takes over 45 minutes to can the same quart of tomatoes in a water bath canner. The two methods may be equal in loss of nutrients, but I don’t think the pressure canner is worse.

      Also I can beans, corned beef, meat soups, chicken broth everything in jars in my pressure canner! The most any of those items takes is 75 min. (pints) 90 minutes (quarts) And that is only for jars with meat in them. Those times are not that long. You don’t even have to cook what’s in the jar before you can it. I think pressure canning is very versatile and just great!

      Just wanted to point out the advantages of pressure canning, and that nutrient loss is not necessarily the worst when you comparing different types of food preservation and length of time being cooked. Also each method of food preservation has its advantages and disadvantages. The trick is to pick the right ones for you and your family. I don’t know about everybody else but I can’t fit everything I grow and preserve in my freezer and not everyone has a root cellar.

  28. Anne says

    what about crock pots I have read such conflicting information about the lead and the leaching there are people who say they have tested and there isn,t any lead and then others who say stay away. I do not have one but would like one if considered healthy. I read about how it is so easy to make the none broth in crock pots

  29. Krysta says

    Did you find any info that pressure canning was also good? I have always heard that it was bad for nutrient loss…..but maybe it is just like pressure cooking.

  30. Katherine says

    I recently bought a slow cooker because I wasn’t sure about making broth in the pressure cooker. I have one that I use All. The. Time. Except for stock. I would love to know how to use it for that.

  31. Maureen says

    I have used a pressure cooker for years, and there is just some stuff that cooks no better any other way. And it can be so fast!! I just don’t always have a lot of time. Thanks for the research! I used the PC even though I have been told it is not the best way to cook. I now feel vindicated.

  32. Ann says

    I bought a small, used pressure cooker and I love it. Swiss steak has never been so tender. I then bought an All American pressure canner. We plan to can our own chili and stews. I really regret not investigating pressure cooking sooner. Such a time saver.

  33. says

    I love this article! I’ve been using a pressure cooker for a while because it helps me bring real food to the dinner table so much faster. If I didn’t have a pressure cooker, I wouldn’t be able to make bone broth on a moment’s notice whenever I run out.

    • KristenM says

      Thank you! So, when you use it for quick-cooked broth (30 min), does the resulting broth gel? Most of the recipes I’ve seen that are trying to create a gelatin-rich broth have it go for at least an hour, then depressurizing slowly instead of using a quick release. I’m wondering if even that length of time is really even necessary!

  34. says

    This is an awesome blog post! Thank you for doing the research. I’ve had reservations about getting a pressure cooker, but you’ve answered all my questions.

  35. Geoff says

    Yes. And so does every other cooking method out there! That is, in fact, one of the primary things that cooking is intended to do. It begins the process of breaking down the proteins in the food, making the food easier for us to digest and assimilate. “Denaturing” the proteins is what causes tough stew meat to become tender when cooked. You want denatured proteins. That’s why you cook your food.

    So where does that leave raw food adherents?

    • KristenM says

      Well, raw food has a place in the diet, too. Raw fruits and veggies, for example are excellent at detoxing our bodies.

      Some raw animal foods that have traditionally been eaten raw are also great for us because our bodies know how to eat those foods raw — we’ve got the right enzymes to help digest those proteins, etc. (I’m thinking of raw milk and raw seafood.)

      But other raw animal foods are traditionally fermented — like corned beef or raw cheeses. In those cases, the fermentation process does the work of “pre-digesting” the food for us.

      However there are some animal foods that traditionally we clearly only ever eat cooked, like tough muscle meats.

      My point? Stick to eating traditionally-prepared foods, and you’ll do fine.

  36. says

    Just want to add that a few days ago I made beef bone broth in my pressure cooker and used one sheep’s foot that I cut in half to expose the marrow, etc., that I had gotten from U.S. Wellness. It did the same thing as the chicken feet do for chicken bone broth, amazing gel!!

  37. says

    My All American pressure canner says not to use it on rice, beans or legumes because they foam too much when cooking and can clog the petcock valve. Is this because it is a pressure CANNER and not a COOKER? It seems that lately people are using these terms inchangeably, but they are NOT the same thing right?
    Thoughts?

    • KristenM says

      No, they are not the same thing. Arguably, you can pressure cook in a pressure canner, but you’d have to be wary of aluminum cooking surfaces and a few other details like that.

      Plus, as you pointed out, they’re not designed with cooking FOOD like grains or legumes in mind. I believe most pressure cookers are, in fact, built with those foods in mind.

  38. says

    Dancin’ in my kitchen! When I was vegetarian and ate tons of beans I fell in love with pressure cookers. I kept using it, but felt bad. Now to learn how to cook meat in it. Woot woot.

  39. Jane says

    This is such a timely message for me. I recently bought an electric pressure cooker and have loved the results so far. I’ve made a super tender pork tenderloin, risotto (although I’m going to give your recipe a try) and I’ve even cooked a whole chicken. Please post more pressure cooker recipes!

  40. says

    I must admit when I saw the topic of your article my first thoughts were, “Oh oh, now what have I been doing to myself!” I was more than pleasantly surprised with the results of your research. Due to all the mentioned bad press I was somewhat reluctant to use my pressure cooker. But to be able to steam cook chickpeas, which I use for a lot of recipes,in 20 minutes as opposed to boiling them for 6 hours always seemed intuitively better to me. Having an engineering background it all makes sense to me know. You get the thing up to speed rocking away then turn it down to low and it is done in a fraction of the time. What better way could there be to preserve nutrients while cooking food? Thanks for a very helpful post!

  41. says

    Thankyou, Thankyou and Thankyou for wrtitng this post. You have validated that all the reserch I did before purchasing one pressure cooker about a year ago was all true and factual. I absolutely LOVE using my pressure cooker for lentils, beans, all sorts of meats and for broths. I put beef marrows along with beef feet and in an hour, I have the most yummy and gelatinous broth ever. I do the same thing with lamb, I put a couple of lamb feet along with a couple of lamb shanks with bayleaves, cloves, peppercorns and such! oh, and along with oinions, tomatoes, ginger/garlic etc, in an hour I have a yummiest tasting gelatinous broth along with soft to the bones meat.
    Thanks again for writing this blog.

    _I would also like to tell all those people who say they are scared of steaming/whistling sound that I was the same way Until my friends told me about the Fagor pressure cookers, there is no whitling/steaming actions in it. Its so simple and easy to use, there is a little yellow button that quietly goes up to indicate that the pressure is built up and you lower the heat and set your timer. Once, your timer is up, you turn the heat and it will slowly steam out all the pressure by itself without any screaming whistling sounds.
    just thought I will share :)

  42. Tatiana says

    Thank you so much for doing this research. I used to cook on the pressure cooker all the time. It got me through my pregnancy when I had a busy job and get home so tired, but I could whip a wholesome meal in 30 min., but than I heard that it was not good to cook with it and that it was best to slow cook the food, so I stopped using it. Now I can go back to it. Feeling inspired again! Thank YOU!!

    • KristenM says

      I made that risotto last night for dinner. TO DIE FOR!!!

      It was really 15 minutes from start to finish, including cooking & prep times.

  43. Josie says

    If both boiling and pressure cooking go to the same temperatures, then why can you only kill bacteria endospores with a pressure cooker? And why are autoclaves(medical pressure cookers) required to sanitize equipment if it doesn’t have a higher temperature? I have never used a pressure cooker before and would be interested to know.

    • KristenM says

      I believe it has to do with the boiling point of water. At Fahrenheit and sea level it’s 212 degrees. That means the highest temperature you can go while boiling is 212. Any higher and the water just turns to steam. A pressure cooker raises the air pressure, thus increasing the boiling point of water. So, you can boil water at a HIGHER temperature before it all starts being lost to steam. Make sense?

  44. says

    A million thanks! I also own and love my pressure cooker. My Mom used hers everyday and that is how we always ate beans. I don’t think we get gassy after eating beans soaked and cooked in the pressure cooker, although I don’t remember my Mom soaking hers. I make lots of things in it, pretty much anything that I have made in the crock pot, I can make in my pressure cooker. I do have one piece of advice to novices out there: don’t overfill! I did just last week and it ended in chicken noodle soup raining in my kitchen.

  45. Diane says

    Ok I was looking at low cost stainless steel pressure cookers (Presto) and high cost. What is the difference between them?

    • says

      You might be looking at a jiggle top cooker versus a modern spring valve cooker. The old style is the jiggle top. I avoid those and prefer the modern pressure cooker.

      My favorite brands are Fagor, B/R/K and Fissler. Price does not determine if it’s good. The Fagor Duo is a good value and not terribly expensive.

      You want a good heavy cooker with a triple ply bottom. I hope that this helps.

  46. Rob says

    Good info on pressure cooking…but my daughter has a peeve against microwave reheating or cooking…is it OK or not and why.

    Rob

  47. Christine says

    Great Post thanks! My mum used a pressure cooker on food when I was growing up…it scared me a little and but apparently she knew what she was doing…

  48. Shane says

    Hello. Thanks for this article! I am very excited to try cooking this way. I have been trying to avoid cooking with metal since the article about platinum cookware. Are there non-metal pressure cookers?
    Thanks again!

  49. says

    I loved this post and have been thinking about it for a while.

    One thing you did not mention concerns me … Most pressure cookers are stainless steel. Since stainless steel is a terrible conductor of heat, the manufactures include hidden inside the pot, a heat conductor most commonly aluminum and other heavy metals. While these heat conducting metals are not exposed on the surface of the pot, they DO leach into the food because stainless steel is porous. When heat is applied, the aluminum and and other heat conducting metals DO leach into the foods. (this is why I have SaladMaster pots and pans – no leaching – but they do not make a pressure cooker.)

    Now, I am guessing that this leaching is MUCH worse in a pressure cooker situation where there is not only heat, but also higher pressure driving the heat conducting metals through the pores of the stainless steel exterior.

    So, how do we use a pressure cooker so that leaching is not a problem? I feel comfortable using a pressure CANNER, because the foods are actually in glass mason jars – and the food never touches the metal of the pot. However, getting a carcass to fit inside a quart mason jar is a problem!

    Any ideas on how to solve this problem? I do not feel comfortable allowing my food to touch the metal of a pressure cooker due to the heavy metal leaching.

    • says

      You can cook in a glass or ceramic vessel or bowl inside the pressure cooker by putting your food on a rack. Same heat but no contact with the cooker. This method is called bowl in pot or pan in pot.

      We all get to choose how we cook.

      I am surprised to hear that the metal core can get through stainless steel. Are there any studies on this? I am so curious.

    • KristenM says

      While I am concerned about cooking on non-toxic surfaces, I’m not at all concerned about cooking with stainless steel.

      Yes, most pressure cookers have 3-ply bottoms that have a conductive middle layer like aluminum or copper. However, that aluminum never comes in contact with the food.

      With a non-stick coating, you know the toxic chemicals are directly in contact with the food. Plus, you know by experience alone that those chemicals are leaching into your food. That’s because the surface wears down, scratches, and eventually starts flaking off the longer you use it. There’s no way that you’re not eating it!

      But with stainless steel, there is no noticeable change in the composition of the cooking surface, even after DECADES of use. If the aluminum transfer from the inner layer to the outer steel layers were at all prevalent, then you’d notice a substantial change in the appearance of your stainless steel pot or pan. You don’t.

      In fact, because of the molecular bonds inherent in creating stainless steel, it is arguably one of the most stable cooking surfaces in existence! (More so than enamel or cast iron.) The only molecules likely to be wiggling out and leaching into your food are all things our body needs anyway — iron, chromium, and manganese.

      I just don’t see how aluminum that is sandwiched between two stainless steel cooking surfaces is going to not only pass THROUGH the stainless steel, but then out of it and into your food! I could imagine this with a less stable metal, but not with stainless steel. (And certainly not with the low temperatures associated with cooking our food.)

      Plus, I’ve not found any research that substantiates this theory. All the testing done on cooking with aluminum or copper cored stainless steel has only ever found leached iron, chromium, and manganese (& sometimes nickel, depending on the type of stainless steel used). While that chromium and nickel may be of some concern because they are considered heavy metals, they’re also metals that most of us are slightly deficient in anyway.

      • says

        Thank you Kristen. I agree with you and would really only want scientific evidence to prove otherwise, even though I have very good gut and find that when I listen to it closely, I most often go in the “right” direction.

        It’s what lead me to pressure cooking in the first place.

  50. says

    I love this post so much that I put it on my personal and my blog FB as well as tweeted it. I have two 10qt Fagor pressure cookers in constant rotation in my house. I love them and recommend them to others all the time. Like Jim, above, I use them to cook things like soaked beans and soaked or sprouted rice. Living in high and dry Colorado, my water only boils at 204F and being able to cook at 230F or 235F means that dinner cooks faster, moister and with less resources. I am expecting number 11, so this means A LOT to me! Thanks so much for the excellent post.

  51. MomLadyOR says

    So, what about cooking bone broth in the crock pot and then “canning” it in the pressure cooker? Does it loose the benefits of bone broth then? That’s what I’ve been doing and recently someone told me I shouldn’t because I loose the nutrient benefits of the bone broth. I try to make a huge batch with the bones I get, but it’s too much for me to use before it would go bad in the refrig.

    Thanks for your input!!

    • KristenM says

      I don’t know about canning. Someone above mentioned that canning times can be quite lengthy — up to an hour or so. Since the primary reason why pressure cooking preserves nutrients is SHORTER cook times, I’d be wary of having your already-cooked food “cooking” for EVEN LONGER in a canner.

      That said, I don’t really know! I’ve not looked at any research one way or the other.

      I will say, though, that I am 100% certain that home-canned foods are better for you than industrially-canned or vacuum-packed ones. There are quite a few significant differences between the two processes.

  52. AnnA says

    Thanks for this excellent article. It makes so much sense. The part about the beans was amazing and very helpful as I soak and sprout my beans for my husband as he can’t handle the phytic acid at all. God bless.

  53. Catherine says

    KristenM, THANK YOU so much for your astute post and research! I’m just disastrous at meal-planning myself, can’t wait to try out the pressure cooker method, especially when making bone broth! :)

  54. Kristen says

    so there is a lot of talk about pressure cooking what about doing your own pressure canning i really love the convenience and health of canning my own food. ie: soups, fruit, tomatoes, stews and chili. I was really disappointed reading Nourishing Traditions when they said pressure cooking was denaturing food, because i want to try to follow the book as close as i can. If anyone can help me with this one they will save me a lot of time in the kitchen.

  55. CeCe says

    Thank you for posting this! I too was an avid PC user pre-NT, and stopped because of it. Goin to look for a lamb recipe now…

  56. says

    This is the most detailed and thorough explanation of pressure cooking I have read. Well done… I’ve been ‘sitting on the fence’ for some time on the subject of whether or not nutrients are destroyed by pressure cooking. This has restored my faith in my trusted old pressure cooker.

  57. Glen0 says

    Thanks for all your research, I have been using pressure cookers for a while and love them but wanted to know if gelatine was destroyed before trying a broth. I think one of the advantages of pressure cooking is the lack of oxidation of the food while cooking. The pressurised steam drives out any available oxygen from the vessel for the whole cooking process.

  58. HJ says

    I had gotten away from using pressure cooker when some vandal broke into storage shed during a move couple decades back and took hammer to top of my ancient National (resembles a small version of today’s All-American canners) that didnt require gasket. I looked in thrift stores, etc, couldnt find another at the time.

    I thought the Wallywart cheapies (that arent all that cheap at checkout) made of light gauge metal with gaskets galore were over priced and would be troublesome in comparison so went back to regular bean pot type cooking.

    Todays hyped plastic encrusted wonders made in China even worse with all those special safety features that the experts shout are absolutely necessary cause you will immediately die using an older model. This is true cause we all know the Chinese factories put safety and high quality first and foremost in all their products! So do the American companies that moved their factories to China… And we also know how well they make repair parts available. Believe me you wont be using Grandma’s Chinese made pressure cooker 80 years from now. Lucky if you get 5 years out of it before it goes to landfill. That thin gauge metal bends and warps easily.

    So recently got to looking on ebay. Have another old small gasketless National cooker from 1920s/1930s on way to me. Along with new gauge and regulator. (They can be upgraded using All-American parts including jiggler type regulator)

    And I was intrigued enough to buy a Minitmaid cooker from 40s. Strangest looking pressure cooker I have ever seen, but the castings are incredible. Probably have to upgrade it too, but will give it a trial run with its existing regulator. Its more of an experiment. I know the old National will do what I want cause I had one before.

    oh and folks you dont have to cook directly in aluminum with an all aluminum cooker. Even if you arent scared of aluminum, still not good cooking acid foods in it. Put the trivet/rack thing in bottom along with inch water, then put stainless bowl that fits loosely in cooker on top of rack. Put the food to be cooked in the bowl along with more water. Look ma, no aluminum touching the food! There are at least couple good videos showing this in detail on youtube if you just cant picture it. Also keeps things like rice from sticking. And very little clean up of cooker itself, usually just rinse it and wipe dry. Oh and bit veggie oil in things like rice while cooking keeps them from foaming and causing problems. Though I probably still wouldnt try to cook split pea soup in a pressure cooker…. LOL Unless you want the green ceiling. Seems to have great proclivity to clog a pressure cooker.

  59. says

    I love this post! It really opened my eyes to the difference between pressure and temperature when it comes to cooking foods.

    I have a question about canning bone broth: I am sure that the mineral content is not affected by the presssure, canning, but I am wondering about the gelatin and collagen content, since they are major reasons why I want to eat broth in the first place… Is is canning the right thing to do for broth, since recommended cooking time is 90minutes under 12 lbs. pressure? When I’ve made my own (I live off-the-grid, and have a very small freezer, so I need to can to save space!!) the canned broth doesn’t seem to be as gelatinous as broth that is simply cooked for a long time and refrigerated, or frozen. Yet, at the same time, others have pointed out that some commercial brands of “chicken in a can” have plenty of gelatin.

    Any ideas on why there would be a difference between my broth and the commercial version? Does the long time under pressure required for canning eliminate the benefits of pressure cooking?

    I would like to continue canning my broth, but not if it ruins the gelatin.

    Thanks for your help!

  60. P.Immanuel says

    Excellent findings.I just decided to find out an alternate method to avoid pressure cooking.Right time I could go through this article. What I need now is to choose the best pressure cooker. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

  61. erika kaczmarek says

    i want to can my homemade soup in mason jars. i cannot seem to locate any info about if that would ruin the soup in any way, nutrient-wise.

    does cooking it twice at high temps effect it? if i only partially cook it on the stove top would it further blend the flavor during pressure canning?

    thanks for your time!

    • erika kaczmarek says

      also want to comment about gelatinous broth…. i throw a chicken foot or two into the pot. the more feet, the more gelatinous

  62. David says

    Thank you so much for this article. I recently ordered a pressure cooker for making bone broth, and have since been a bit worried about the high temperatures obliterating all the vitamins and minerals. Weight off my mind!

    • Kate says

      The vitamins at the focus of the study referenced on this page are vitamins that are tolerant to heat exposure. Many vitamins and nutrients are not heat-tolerant, such as vitamin D, E, K, and Niacin, to name just a few.

      • says

        Actually, the vitamins in the study *are* heat-sensitive, not heat tolerant. That’s why they were retained more in the pressure cooker vs. other cooking methods where they’d be exposed to heat for longer.

        For what it’s worth, Vitamins A, D, E & K are very heat tolerant and hold up well no longer how long you cook them (they are fat-soluble and very stable), whereas Vitamin C (quoted in the study above) is heat sensitive and breaks down under heat.

  63. Jim Carlsson says

    Thanks for your great article:)

    However, the statement quoted below does not make sense to me:

    “Most pressure cookers will raise the boiling point of water inside them to around 225-235F. This is lower than the lowest setting on Crock Pots, which is usually 250F.”

    Crock Pots don’t achieve that high temperatures do they?

  64. alpa says

    The article did remove some apprehensions about pressure cooking
    I am an Indian an vegetarian
    We normally pressure cook all lentils but dispose the after cooking
    However I am not sure whether it is a proper way to cook some Indian vegetables like field beans or cow beans or brinjals

  65. says

    Nice article, I had been using pressure cooker keeping in mind that it retains nutrients than any other method of cooking . Few days back Some one said that it loses more nutrients because of high temperature so I was curious to confirm the misconception.Thanks.
    When I use pressure cooker to cook soaked lentils after the first whistle I lower the heat to maintain the air pressure , that way the whistling takes place after long span and three to four whistles is enough to cook soaked lentils.Other wise if we apply more heat it whistles and whistles and takes longer time to cook.

  66. Bob says

    When I was in the military we had an issued pressure cooker for our 10 man section. Saved cooking time

    I currently have a small one for camping in the backcountry because I use less fuel which I have to carry in.

  67. norm patterson says

    I understand that the boiling point is higher in pressure cooker and that’s all well and good. However, if the stock is boiling for an hour in a pressure cooker it is still boiling regardless of temperature. Or is not boiling when you turn stove down to low? I don’t see how the lowest setting in a slow cooker could be as high as 250 degrees because a crock pot normally will only simmer on low setting. I would like to buy a pressure cooker so let me know if I am wrong. Thanks

  68. Diane says

    I’m new to pressure cooking & absolutely love this method of cooking. I’m not the best at time management and pressure cooking has enabled me to prepare tasty, healthy foods with limited time.
    A previous comment stated a concern about making split pea soup in the pressure cooker, due to the potential foaming.
    In an electric Wolfgang Puck cooker, I pressure cooked split pea soup for the first time, 2/2014, I didn’t soak the peas & didn’t have any forming. The recipes from “allrecipes” have been great so far, not one bad recipes to date.
    After reading the issues of heavy metals above, I’m concerned about the inner pot from the above mentioned cooker, as it is teflon coated. I now plan to look for a good quality stainless steel pot liner or bowl for inside this pot. What would be the best stainless steel available. Alclad would be one of my choices, however it is now made is China.
    Could I use a glass bowl?

  69. norm says

    Good luck. I just bot a figor duo that was made in Spain but seems they just shifted manufacture in China not long ago. I bot it anyway and hope for the best as there is not much else available and how bad can stainless steel be messed up.

  70. Pam VanHook via Facebook says

    I quit using my pressure cooker because it is aluminum and the aluminum/altzheimer link scares the bejeebers out of me. Do they make stainless steel pressure cookers? I will have to google and see.

  71. says

    I’ve been using mine at home just about every other day for the past 3 weeks I’ve had one. They pay for themselves in energy savings, are easier than you think to clean up (at least the smaller ones, and they keep the stove top clean). Awesome flavor! Ditch your microwave like I did (7 years ago), and get one of these!

  72. Jeanette Dupree Meyer via Facebook says

    I grew up with a pressure cooker in the house. My mom used it all the time. The old fashioned scary ones….that seemed like it would explode any minute.

  73. says

    They DO make a stainless pressure cooker! I just bought a Presto one recently on Amazon, and I LOVE it! I did hours of research, BTW, and bought the Presto – so take my advice and save yourself. I bought an 8 quart and we only have 3 people in my family.

  74. Angela Butler via Facebook says

    Pam vanhook. I swapped my cooker for a stainless steel one for the same reasons. Mine is a tefal brand

  75. Peggy Webb via Facebook says

    Terrified of them. I know the new ones are safer than the one my mom used (which exploded) but I’m holding out until I can afford an “automatic electric” one.

  76. Victoria Coghill via Facebook says

    I’ve never used a pressure cooker. It sounds interesting. I’d like to try that one day, but I have so much other stuff to sort out first that pressure cooking is way down there on importance.

  77. says

    Cook faster, more efficient and especially the safety of a pressure cooker … etc, probably increased prominence to the pressure cooker. Pressure cooker is an indispensable part of modern life. Although it is quite expensive but very worthy for us to invest in it

  78. Pallavi says

    I have a 7 month old baby and was planning to start cooking for him at home. I was about to buy a baby food maker (steamer and blender) when my mom suggested using a pressure cooker and a blender. She used one when I was a kid since we’re from India where every family uses a pressure cooker everyday. I’m a bit confused since it’s for my baby, so nutrition loss as well as chemicals leaching need to be kept to a minimum. I have a jiggle top one made of stainless steel but with an aluminium layer in the middle. Do you think it’s a good idea to use it or should I buy a baby food steamer-blender?

  79. says

    Hi Kirsten,
    Interestingly, you said that you are giving away a knife set and then said. “I hope you win!”
    Giving is like donating whereas winning is like a contest!
    I recommend that you say that you are having a contest where the winner gets a free knife set!
    If you are Oprah then maybe you can afford to give away knife sets to all who request them!
    Interesting article on pressure cookers!
    I’ve been using them to cook brown rice, other whole grains and beans for more than 40 years!
    Thank you, very much.
    Bruce Paine

  80. Emma says

    In Pakistan I observed people in villages sealing their cooking pots with a flour and water paste and weighting the lid down. WHich is basically a pressure cooker don’t you think? And it is traditional.

  81. Julie says

    Thank-You Kristen you just made my day! You covered all my queries and raised the ones i hadn’t thought of yet. Denaturing lectins v fermenting – well that just increased my options. YAY!
    Any thoughts on induction cook tops (portable)?

  82. S. Dinguss says

    I was impressed until the bottle of Scotch and the 3 kids. For someone so concerned with health why don’t you look up the World Health Report and the CDC Facts regarding alcohol and the dangers your drinking poses to those in your life. Bet you wouldn’t blow smoke in their precious faces but, you don’t give a second thought to the second hand effects of alcohol. Way to go mom.

  83. says

    Thank you so much for this very informative article! I have been wanting to find research on the health benefits of pressure cooking and was so happy to find out that is does not destroy the nutrients. My Grandmother made the best beef stew and pinto beans in the pressure cooker growing up. I am on a meal planning fix and so excited that this will cut my cooking time and retain nutrients. I am going to stock up with bone broth, beans, stews, etc.!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  84. Mike Underwood via Facebook says

    Any type of cooking destroys nutrients and proteins. Unless you’re eating raw it’s a matter of scale. Good article.

  85. Jess Brown via Facebook says

    Just used mine to can up 6 quarts of homegrown spaghetti sauce :) We have a large garden, so it’s a necessity to avoid waste.

  86. Grace Martin via Facebook says

    now that i’ve read the article= i live just north of denver, very high altitude. and i have a modern pressure cooker with the safety features.

  87. Laura Wheeler via Facebook says

    I can digest dry beans that have been pressure cooked (but not other fresh cooked dry beans).

    I CANNOT digest meats that have been pressure cooked – it changes the proteins in a way that makes it harder for my body to use them, and they give me indigestion (so do overcooked meats that have been done in a crock-pot). This has improved some as the residual damage from having had Crohn’s resolves, but it would tend to contradict the easier digestibility of pressure cooked meats.

    Also, all the studies you cite list only grains and beans in their studies regarding digestibility and nutrient accessibility. Making meat more tender isn’t exactly the same as making it more digestible.

  88. Judy Dodge Meives via Facebook says

    We loved cooking our potatoes in ten minutes, our carrots in twenty minutes, and meat usually in an hour. Til the rubber seal went bad. I sure do miss having food that is not over cooked, but just right for eating,

  89. Judy Dodge Meives via Facebook says

    Cannot locate a new one, not wanting a large one for canning at this point. Anyone know where to get a 4 qt or a bit larger.

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