What Are the Benefits of Pressure Cooking?
History of Pressure Cooking
Pressure cookers are some of the most underrated kitchenware or home appliances simply because many people are unaware of the benefits of pressure cooking. They are not as popular as ovens and stoves, but they do get a lot of jobs done—jobs that only they can handle best. How did this cooking method start and how was it different?
The first pressure cooker was invented in the late 15th century by Denis Papin, a French inventor who wanted to reduce cooking time using his studies on steam and pressure. It was a wonderful breakthrough indeed, but the idea did not propagate commercially until Georg Gutbrod mass produced the contraption in 1864.
The first products made of tinned cast iron actually more likely resembled a cauldron with tightly sealed lid, albeit the principle of pressure cooking clearly used. In 1919, the first patent for the product was successfully granted to a Spanish merchant named Jose Alix Martinez, although this too looked more like a large kettle than the ones used at homes today.
Despite having been into existence for centuries, the closest to modern pressure cooker did not enter the marketplace until 1938 when Alfred Vischer introduced pressure cooking to every home through his innovative design. From there, pressure cooking has come a long way, which is now considered a smart and practical cooking method.
Why Use Pressure Cooking
Pressure cooking is not simple cooking. It uses the power of steam from a small amount of liquid to cook foods faster with the help of pressure buildup inside a tightly sealed apparatus, which you call a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker may be a simple stove-top type (kitchenware) or an electric type (appliance).
As the heat is trapped inside, the steam is forced into the food, increasing the temperature from the normal boiling point of 212°F to higher 250°F. Theoretically speaking, the more than 15% increase in temperature can reduce five-hour cooking to almost an hour, but the accumulation of heat actually speeds up cooking by 100%. How much time can you save with pressure cooking if you have to braise meat for five hours?
The benefits (advantage) of pressure cooking is not evident in every food because only those that need fast cooking but can withstand increased amount of heat can reap the benefits of this cooking method. Meats, for instance, are the best ones to receive this type of cooking treatment.
Pressure cooking may not be a daily kitchen thing, but it does help a lot with the right recipe, especially if your family loves complex meat dishes and crisp vegetables. You get to enjoy deeper flavor, better cooking, and more enticing aroma but at a faster cooking time.
Pressure Cooking versus Other Cooking Methods
As steam is forced into the food during pressure cooking, the inside part of the food is cooked thoroughly and beautifully without overcooking the outer part. This is important if you want balanced cooking of meat from the crust to the bones. Even home cooks can produce restaurant-quality meals without doing much.
To enhance the flavor even more, broths and different mixtures can be used in lieu of regular water for steaming. The flavor in the concoction seeps through the food, resulting to an explosion of flavor in every bite. Pressure cooking likewise makes sure that the natural juices of meats are not wasted (since they go back as steam) but the excess fats are kept out permanently. You can see the fats as drippings in the pressure cooker, which you can still subsequently use for other recipes, such as gravies and garnishes.
Unfortunately, these benefits are seldom possible with other cooking methods. Stove and oven cooking are focused on cooking the outer part of foods inwards, which can lead to overcooked outside part, raw inside part, or both. Nailing hard-to-cook meats also requires advanced cooking skills because temperature control and the length of cooking for every side (flipping) have to be accurate.
Boiling is an entirely different method as it tends to take away most of the flavors and natural juices from meats, while frying is often used to achieve different textures in the inside and outside of meats. The closest to pressure cooking is steaming but without the big reduction in cooking time.
Benefits (Advantage) of Pressure Cooking
There are a lot of reasons why this method is worth learning, the most obvious of which is big reduction in cooking time. Because the food is cooked faster, overhead costs are also reduced, such as electricity or gas. This is especially helpful if you want to serve a hearty meal that usually takes half a day to cook but you only have a few hours to prepare.
Since the juices do not get out of the pressure cooker, the flavors are retained and are even enhanced depending on the liquid used for steaming. Also depending on preference, meats can be cooked to brown without actually overcooking them and adding extra fat used in frying. Vegetables are also cooked without losing their essential nutrients like what happens with boiling. The result is a moist, flavorful, and evenly cooked meal that is also good for the heart.
Likewise, the reduced mess in the kitchen will save you cleaning time, and since the aroma does not come out from the pressure cooker, the entire house remains smelling clean and fresh.
Benefits of Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker
With the aforementioned benefits of pressure cooking, the next biggest concern is the type of pressure cooker to be used. Without a doubt, stainless steel pressure cooker is the best option for a myriad of reasons.
First, stainless steel is rust- and scratch-free, so it is bound to stay brand-new looking even with regular use. You can use it everyday but still see it shine with proper cleaning.
Second, because stainless steel is heavier and thicker, you are guaranteed to have a more durable kitchenware that will outlast its aluminum counterpart by years.
Third, as the name implies, stains do not stick easily on this material, making it easier and faster to clean. The bottom part is also less susceptible to burns even when used at extended hours.
Lastly, unlike aluminum, foods cooked in stainless steel do not taste like metal in any way. (Read more about does salt kill yeast in pizza dough)