The invention and evolution of the pressure cooker is a fascinating modern era accomplishment: it is a cooking pot that utilizes pressurized steam to cook food in less time and using less energy! You can almost never go wrong once you get the hang of using one. Modern pressure cookers come with many features that make it convenient to use, while also offering better safety measures that make accidents a thing of the past. For instance, lids now feature locks that won’t let the lid open until the steam pressure is fully released through the pressure release valves.
Which pressure cooker should you buy, then?
On top of the existing safety features to prevent kitchen accidents, there are other important pressure cooker features that you should check to ensure the health and safety of your food. This article discusses all those important health features, inspects different types of pressure cookers available in the market, and provides you with our recommendation for the best and safest pressure cooker.
Different Types of Conventional Pressure Cookers
Since their inception, the different varieties of pressure cookers can be broadly classified into 3 generations:
First Generation Pressure Cookers: Weight-Modified Valve with a Whistle
This is the oldest kind of pressure cooker design that operates using a weight-modified valve that sounds a whistle while releasing pressure. Their operation is loud and resembles a steam engine’s piston. Typically, these pressure cookers offered a single pressure level. There were only a few models that let the user modify the weight of the valve and change the pressure level. These used a metal pot (aluminum or stainless steel) and lid with a rubber gasket or sealing ring.
Second Generation Pressure Cookers: Spring-Loaded Valves to Control Pressure
These newer generation stovetop pressure cookers used spring loaded pressure release valves that let users choose between different pressure options. Some newer models came with a pressure indicator to show how much steam is built up, and the cooker would not release any steam unless it reached a certain threshold or you open the lid.
A popular design from this era offered a dial to adjust steam pressure and vent the steam out when you move the dial. These pots were also made from metals with the pressure control mechanism (dial) often covered in insulating plastic.
Third Generation Electric Pressure Cookers
These pressure cookers come with an electric heat source in the base that regulates the temperature and pressure by controlling the heat supplied at the base. These also come with spring-loaded valves and provide dual pressure settings along with a timer option. Most of these also offer a feature to keep food warm after it is done.
They may be better than the older models in many ways, but they have some limitations. For instance, you are at the mercy of the pressure cooker’s natural cooling speed – you cannot open the lid while pressure is still high. You also have to be very careful while working with the tiny steam valves, they can be difficult to operate.
Now that we have an idea of conventional pressure cookers, let us look at which ones are safe for healthy and non-toxic meal prep.
What Factors Decide the Health Safety of Your Pressure Cooker?
The safety of your pressure cooker is two-fold: – it must be safe for food and safe to handle. Although the designs of pressure cookers have made a lot of progress over time to make these useful cooking pots safe to use, the same cannot be said for the health risks related to food cooked in them. Here are some factors that decide how safe your pressure cooker is for preparing non-toxic food:
How Safe and Non-Toxic is the Raw Material?
Modern pressure cookers are typically made from metals like stainless steel.
Now if you have a good memory, you might be able to remember the periodic table from 7th grade chemistry class and learning about the reactive nature of metals. All metals are reactive in varying degrees, even the least reactive one (which is gold!), meaning metals are prone to reacting or combining with other elements in its surroundings (like halogens) in the presence of heat.
Steel is made up from a combination of these metals: iron, nickel, chromium, molybdenum, etc. If you are cooking with a stainless steel insert for a pressure cooker, what would happen? Naturally, these metals would react with their surroundings. These metals react with nutritional molecules and create new compounds that are toxic for the body. Take a look at the new compounds formed when cooking in conventional pots here: Metal Reactivity
While metals and steel have their place in our world, cookware is not one of them! This is simply because of their highly reactive nature to the elements in food.
Eating food combined with these metal ions regularly compromises the immune system and contributes to many health problems ranging from common infections to serious illnesses. See in this link how these leached metals behave in the body:
Are Toxic Coatings or Glazes Used?
With increasing awareness about safety concerns of metals as raw materials, cookware creators came up with an alternative: using glazes in modern pressure cookers. Coatings and barriers can help prevent the metal toxins from the core raw material from contaminating food to some extent, but how about their own toxins leaching into food, have you thought about that?
Bear in mind the raw materials in these so-called “barriers” are not from one source in nature: they are a concoction of oxides, minerals, and chemicals. When food breaks down with a heat catalyst and nutrient molecules release, leaching happens even here. These coatings can have serious health effects too, read more about these coatings here.
How Does the Pressure Cooker Handle Water-Soluble Nutrients?
Steam formed during cooking consists of essential water soluble nutrients that your body needs from your food on a daily basis. Although pressure cookers do a great job with steam retention, pressure cookers need to release the steam pressure through vents before the lid opens; as a result, these water soluble nutrients end up lost.
Additionally, metals generate near-infrared heat (another concept we learned in those boring chemistry classes… actually, in retrospect, not so boring after all — who would have known their significance later on in life!). This type of heat is damaging to the foods delicate nutritional cells. Especially the more delicate ones like complex carbs, phytonutrients, and flavonoids. As a result, cooked food lacks nutrients and the ingredients lose natural color and flavor.
Our Recommendation: The Safest Pressure Cooker for Healthy and Non-Toxic Cooking
Ideally, the safest pressure cooker would be the one that uses a 100% non-toxic and pure raw material, is uncoated and unglazed, has all the safety features in place that make it safe to use, and preserves all the nutrients including water-soluble nutrients. Unfortunately, none of the conventional modern pressure cookers possess all these features and you might have to compromise on one or more issues.
But is it wise to compromise on your health?
After all those shiny metals come and go, in a few decades it will be your health that is going, for the worse!
Through the pages of this website, learn how a company that thought this through and created a line of cookware and bakeware right here in the USA that does everything that you might be compromising with your metal pressure cooker.
Miriam’s Earthen Cookware (MEC) – a US-based cookware brand – offers pots and pans made from lab tested primary clay without any additives, glazes, or chemicals. These pots make excellent pressure cookers due to its unique lid design, developed specifically to trap, retain, and cook with steam.
Primary clay is the purest form of natural clay and is innately non-reactive, so there is no risk of leaching. As there is nothing added or removed from the clay, MEC pots are rich in all the healthy features of natural clay and more
. Keep reading to discover how MEC’s pressure cooker safely cooks food in a healthier way.
The benefits of pressure cooking in these pots are numerous. It operates easier and faster too on low heat, but those benefits are listed clearly here: Features & Benefits
However, we’d like to give you a brief idea on how to use these pots for pressure cooking:
Here’s How to Pressure Cook Your Food in These Safe, Nutrient Preserving Pots:
Pressure Cooking Tough Cut Meats:
Tougher meats like beef and goat break down much easier in a pressure cooker. The steam helps break down the bonds giving it its rough texture, making these meats tender and delicious!
Here Are Some Great Braising Recipes: 5 Best Braising Recipes — Healthy, Non-Toxic & Delicious Cooking In MEC
Pressure Cooking Grains:
Pressure cooking grains helps retain moisture in your grains so they have a satisfying texture palette. There is no need to add any oils to help separate the grain or to add flavor – just add your grain and some water and it will turn out delicious!
Here’s A Grain Cooking Guide: Cook Soft, Fluffy and Delicious Rice & Other Grains
Pressure Cooking Beans and Lentils:
Beans and lentils are notorious for taking a long time to soften and prepare for eating. With this pressure cooker, you can prepare them in a fraction of the time – cutting down preparation and cooking time from an extensive several hours to just one or two hours (sometimes less!). They retain their natural color and taste vibrant and delicious!
Here’s How to Cook Them: Cooking Healthy Beans & Lentils: Different Types, Cooking time, Nutritional Value & Taste
Pressure Cooking Potatoes and Yams:
Potatoes and yams are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates that the body needs for energy. While pressure cooking in conventional cookware, these carbs get destroyed from the harsh heat of the metal core, and potatoes/yams can easily turn out sticky or burned. Our pots and pans keep those nutrients intact, meaning they maximize flavor and healthy meaningful energy in each bite. They cook evenly and thoroughly, creating the perfect side dish or ingredient for a meal.
Faster and Healthier Bone Broth Pressure Cooking:
Creating bone broth is a slow process that takes time to bring out the flavors. Unfortunately, cooking for such a long time in a pressure cooker maximizes leaching, meaning a lot of the pot’s core or coating contaminates your broth. With MEC, you get none of the leaching, and the process is also quicker, too!
Here’s a How-To: Homemade Bone Broth in a Clay Pot
And Here are Some Other Broth Variants, Including Vegetarian Broths: 4 Homemade Broths Full of Health
Where to Buy the Safest Pressure Cooker
When it comes to cooker safety, nothing beats the health benefits and value that MEC offers. This pressure cooker safely and nutritiously prepares all your meals with no leaching or loss of nutrients. With so many pressure cookers incapable of providing both convenience and health, why waste time weighing pros and cons and making compromises to the most important aspect of all – your health? Take advantage of this pressure cooker that can do it all and buy the safest non-toxic pressure cooker on our online store!
People Also Ask:
What are the safety features on a pressure cooker?
Modern pressure cookers come with many safety features in comparison to the old models like
- A high grade stainless steel body that is not as reactive as aluminum or anodized aluminum
- A locking device
- Safety pressure release valves
- Safety handles
- An encapsulated even-heat base
- Visual pressure indicators
How dangerous are pressure cookers?
The older generation pressure cookers were not as safe as they are today. Accidents occurred that caused personal injury when a pressure cooker was left unattended, or when a pressure cooker was not properly maintained, causing clogged pressure valves. On the other hand, modern pressure cookers are very safe and the risk of such accidents is negligible. However, it is important to pay attention to the raw material the pot is made from. A reactive pot may leach and contaminate food during pressure cooking, which is why one must choose a pressure cooker made from an inert material like primary clay cooking pots, or less reactive high grade stainless steel.
How do I make sure my pressure cooker is safe?
There are some essential measures one must take to ensure safety while using a pressure cooker, like:
- Always check the equipment to make sure all the safety features are working (check if the rubber gasket is intact, pressure valves are not clogged, etc.).
- Don’t overfill the pressure cooker to more than 2/3 to avoid food like beans and grains blocking the vents.
- Use a sufficient quantity of liquid so it can evaporate and create required steam pressure, or the food might burn.
- Be careful while cooking foods that froth, for they might block the steam valves and pressure vents.
- Avoid using too much oil, as it can heat up to really high temperature and melt the rubber parts inside (like gasket).
- Always clean the cooker properly after use, making sure you thoroughly clean all the vents and valves for next use.
- It is best to use a pressure cooker that has a simple design and not fall for the ones with complex operating mechanisms – if you do not know how to use it, you won’t know how to maintain it!
By following these tips, you can make sure your pressure cooker is safe. If you use a MEC pot as a pressure cooker, you do not need to worry about a lot on this checklist!