Pressure cooking food became popular in the last century, as the newer models overcame the dangers of first-generation pressure cookers (ever heard of older pressure cookers exploding?) by offering many safety features. This article explains the basic functioning of an electric pressure cooker (with the most modern day pressure cooker variants being known as an instant pot), highlights its advantages and disadvantages, and compares it to other cookware based on how healthy it can cook.
What is a Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)?
A pressure cooker cooks recipes by creating steam pressure inside a sealed pot and raising the boiling point of water (preventing water boiling), which allows considerable heat to be generated without losing the liquid. This cuts the usual cooking time by 2/3 or more and cooks food tender and moist. Modern pressure cookers come with many features that offer you better control over steam pressure and cooking time, making the cooking process almost automated. Many prefer to cook rice, vegetables, beans, chicken, and other dishes in an electric pressure cooker. A pressure cooker can sometimes function as a slow cooker, too.
What Does a Pressure Cooker do Differently Compared to Other Cookware?
There many advantages of using a pressure cooker over other cooking methods. In comparison to other cookware, an instant pot can substantially reduce the cooking time (many meals take only 30 minutes!). This, in turn, makes them more energy efficient than their peers – less energy is consumed overall to make a delicious recipe.
You can almost never go wrong with these once you get used to adding the right amount of liquid and the right cooking time. Eventually, using pressure cookers become simple and straightforward. In addition, many recipes can be created in their entirety in just this one pot, making the cooking process more convenient overall.
How Healthy are Pressure Cookers?
How healthy a cookware is primarily depends on two factors — its ability to retain nutrients and its raw material.
Because pressure cookers prepare a meal with steam, nutrients are not lost as much as other conventional cookware. Why does steam make the difference? Steam contains a variety of water soluble nutrients important for the body’s daily functions. Other pots and pans release this steam immediately, meaning these water-soluble nutrients are lost. Because an instant pot locks high pressure steam inside, less water soluble nutrients are lost and more fortify your meals. Unfortunately, at the end, steam has to be released through the vents before the lid can be opened, so there is still some level of nutrient loss, but it handles steam better than other conventional cookware.
The other factor, the pressure cooker’s material, is where health dangers begin to arise. The insert of an electric pressure cooker is made from metals or their alloys (like stainless steel) coupled with additional materials used in other parts, like rubber polymers (silicones) for the handle, gasket, or lining.
Metals are innately reactive when exposed to heat (in general, not just high heat!), so they leach and combine with your food’s nutrients to create compounds toxic for the body – contaminating your food. Silicone is a synthetic material that consists of several chemical additives that may also leach, with no sufficient testing is done to ensure its safety. Moreover, metals distribute heat harshly and indiscriminately, which can damage your food’s nutrients.
You can read more about the leaching of metals and chemicals here: Buying Non-Toxic Cookware
Therefore, pressure cookers might offer some advantages over other cookware with its better steam retention, but one of the big disadvantages of pressure cooking is it still has the problem almost all conventional cookware does – the raw material is not safe for foods. This begs an important question:
What is the Safest Pressure Cooker for Your Health?
Miriams Earthen Cookware’s (MEC) handmade pure clay pots and pans are great for pressure cooking food safely, on both the stovetop and in the oven. MEC is a US-based brand that offers pots and pans made from lab tested primary clay without additives. Primary clay is naturally inert and because nothing is added to it, the pots turn out equally safe for cooking.
Their ergonomically designed pot and lid manage steam by allowing it to condense on the inner side of the lid and keep falling back into food, fortifying it with essential water-soluble nutrients. Without any complicated locking mechanisms, MEC traps steam with a specially designed lid and prevents it from escaping. And thanks to gentle far infrared heat cooking, even the most delicate nutrients like flavonoids are preserved. As a result, foods cook non-toxic, more nutritious and healthier, taking about the same time in a MEC pot.
All these features make MEC the safest pressure cooking alternative to conventional instant pots! Want to try your hand at pressure cooking in these completely non-toxic pots with all the benefits of a pressure cooker and more? Head to the MEC online store and buy one today.