There is a lot of debate about which cooking methods are safe and which are harmful.
The fact that cooking in a microwave oven is a safe way has already been described in the article "Can you cook in the microwave?".
Regarding pressure cookers, some believe that the high pressure in the pressure cooker and high temperature destroy the nutrients in the food, while others believe that the fast cooking time under pressure protects the nutrients from being destroyed.
In this article, we will try to find out all the pros and cons of pressure cooking.
A pressure cooker is a thick-walled pot that, when liquid is heated, in which very hot steam is forcibly generated, reaching temperatures above 130 ºС. All modern pressure cookers (multi-cookers with a pressure cooker function) are equipped with pressure relief valves and are safe.
Food in a pressure cooker cooks much faster than other cooking methods, with the exception of cooking small meals in a microwave oven.
Pressure cooking requires much less water than conventional cooking. It is not necessary to immerse all the cooked food in water. Even a small amount of water will allow you to fill the entire volume of the pressure cooker with steam.
One of the main arguments against pressure cookers is that food is cooked in them at high pressure and high temperature, which destroys most of the vitamins.
This argument has been scientifically refuted. By reducing the cooking time in a pressure cooker, it is possible to preserve vitamins, and not destroy them.
The minimum amount of liquid used in a pressure cooker fills the entire volume of the pot with steam. By reducing cooking time, vitamins are relatively well preserved during pressure cooking.
One study examined the retention of vitamin C and beta-carotene with different food processing methods. Research confirms that shorter cooking times in a pressure cooker result in better retention of these two vitamins.
The use of a pressure cooker and a microwave oven in cooking are the most appropriate methods to keep high levels of phenolic compounds and flavonoids in foods.
The undeniable advantage of a pressure cooker is that different foods can be cooked together in the same amount of time, while with conventional cooking, foods that require longer heat treatment must be added earlier and cooked longer. In a pressure cooker, both meat and potatoes are laid together and boiled until tender for the same time.
Since food in a pressure cooker is cooked at temperatures above 100 ºС, most of the harmful microorganisms are killed during this process.
When cooking in a pressure cooker, the Maillard reaction does not occur (an example of such a reaction is frying meat or baking bread) and there is no glycation (baking) of proteins, which occurs when frying or baking, because this requires temperatures higher than in a pressure cooker.
Some food toxins can be reduced by pressure cooking. Research shows that pressure cooking can reduce concentrations of aflatoxin (a deadly mitotoxin produced by fungi) by 12-22%.
Not all foods can be cooked in a pressure cooker!
Some of them are not recommended for pressure cooking. Products such as pasta, cereal, oatmeal, cranberries and some others, which increase significantly in volume when cooked and, by expanding or creating a lot of foam, can block the release of steam.
When cooking meat in a pressure cooker, the content of unsaturated fats is reduced, while no harmful substances are formed, and nutrients are preserved.
The pressure cooker saves time. Some products (meat, rice, legumes, etc.) take a long time to cook in the usual way. The time of their preparation in a pressure cooker is reduced several times.
Cooking food under pressure preserves the taste and aroma of food as much as possible, because during the cooking process, steam does not escape from the pressure cooker.
The only disadvantages of pressure cookers are their higher price compared to conventional pots and the impossibility of tasting food during cooking, since opening the pressure cooker requires the steam to be released first.
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