The Benefits of Using a Pressure Cooker

Fortunately for contemporary cooks, pressure cooking has changed. It may have been invented over 300 years ago, but pressure cooking is definitely the cooking method for today. Click here to read  The History of the Pressure Cooker. When the pressure is on to eat right, you can't cook healthier, tastier, or faster than in the pressure cooker. Flavorful meals, tender meats , delicate fish and chicken are cooker to perfection in minutes. Plus, pressure cooking makes it easy for even the busiest cooks to prepare meals from scratch and take advantage of the "fresh is best" philosophy of cooking. Use your pressure cooker to make complete casserole style meals, or cook several foods at one time and have a home cooked meals on the table in minutes. See more in Why Use a Pressure Cooker.

Vitamins

How foods are cooked can have a big impact on their nutrient content. The best way to destroy vitamins is to cook your food in an open pot of boiling water. To retain the most nutrients possible, most experts recommend that you use as little water as possible and cook foods rapidly because many vitamins are sensitive to water, heat and air exposure (vitamin C, the B vitamins and folate in particular) and water used for cooking can dissolve and wash away water soluble vitamins, while the heat deteriorates them.

Many vitamins such as "B's" and C" are water soluble and the simple act of washing them takes away some of the vitamins. Vitamins "D" and "E" are fat soluble. Fat soluble vitamins are stored and metabolized with the fat in our bodies. Fat soluble vitamins are not as volatile as water soluble vitamins and are not as readily “cooked away.

The longer the cooking time and the higher the temperature, the worse it becomes. It is best to choose the cooking method that most optimizes and preserves the nutrients in food. In a study published by Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, researchers investigated effects of various means of cooking broccoli. Up to 97 percent of certain antioxidant compounds were destroyed by microwaving, while steaming the broccoli caused only 11 percent loss. Therefore, any cooking that minimizes the time, temperature, and water will help to preserve nutrients. Pressure cooking under steam is one of the methods best because it minimizes time and requires little water.

Choose The Best Cooking Method

The super-heated steam which is produced by high temperatures inside a pressure cooker makes the food cook quickly and intensifies the natural flavors. This allows cooks to use less salt, sugar,and use less costly herbs and seasonings and still get a better taste. Pressure cooking creates an airless environment that retains more nutrients than other cooking methods. As the foods get cooked quickly with very little liquid, more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are preserved and not boiled away during cooking. Since, foods are cooked in a steam atmosphere; it is virtually fat-free cooking as well.

There are a few other tricks you can employ to preserve nutrients. Minimize the surface area of food by leaving vegetables in big pieces. That way fewer vitamins are destroyed when they are exposed to air. Always cover your pot to hold in steam and heat. This will also help to reduce cooking time. Use any leftover cooking water for soups, sauces, and stews, or vegetable juice drinks. The longer food is exposed to these factors, the greater the nutrient loss.

Click here to Find out what to look for when purchasing a new  pressure cooker.

The Best Cooking Techniques

As a rule, rapid cooking techniques are better for retaining nutrients than slower methods. Any type of cooking changes food in some ways, and more nutrients are lost when food is exposed to heat, light, moisture and air. The methods that typically preserve nutrients best can be ordered from quickest to slowest, as follows:

    Pressure Cooking
    Microwaving
    Steaming
    Stir-frying
    Broiling/Grilling
    Sauteing
    Poaching
    Braising
    Roasting
    Baking
    Boiling

The nutrient retention achieved through these methods may vary according to the food type, size and shape and your own cooking technique. Note that boiling is not a preferred cooking method because most nutrients are lost or poured down the drain with the cooking water. A practical way to recoup the nutrients that are released into boiling water is to retain the liquid after cooking and use it as stock for soups.