Simple Green: Pressure Cooking

Simple Green: Pressure Cooking

Trent Johnson
Mar 15, 2010

For many people, pressure cookers are a relic from the past. Before last year, the only person we'd ever seen using one was our mom when we were 10. But pressure cookers have been regaining popularity as cooks rediscover how efficiently they can cook food, both in time and energy use.

Pressure cookers typically reduce the cooking time required over traditional cooking methods to around 1/3 the cooking time by using pressure to increase cooking efficiency. Remember back to high school physics where the boiling point of water increases as pressure increases? As you heat a pressure cooker, the inside pressure increases and along with it the boiling point of water thereby allowing you to cook at a higher temperature. Sure, it limits you to recipes that are of the moister variety, but using a pressure cooker to precook your meal and then finishing it off in the broiler could reduce that 3 hours for Beef Spare Ribs to 50 minutes of pressure cooking + 20 minutes of baking.

Green Benefits of Pressure Cookers:

  • Saves time: Reduces total kitchen time both on appliance use (oven, exhaust fan and lights) and on total preparation-to-meal ready time.
  • Saves energy: Not only does cooking time get reduced (by about 1/3), also reducing your energy consumption, but most of the steam and heat stays in the pot.
  • Nutritional Boost: Shorter cooking time and reduced evaporated liquid results in a higher retention of vitamins over traditional cooking methods.

So maybe you don't want to go out and purchase a new cooking gadget, but keep your eye open next time you're on Craigslist, FreeCycle or at a garage sale.

Other Resources via TheKitchn:

Food Science: How Pressure Cookers Work
Shopping for Pressure Cookers: Any Recommendations?

(Image: Fagor Duo and Fagor Splendid 6-Quart Pressure Cooker Diagram via Amazon)

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