A Vegan’s Guide To Pressure Cooking
Pressure cooking is getting popular more than ever…and for good reasons. They help overcome a lot of limitations of conventional stovetop cookers while providing a quick, safe and reliable cooking experience.
Why pressure cookers?
A big part of its popularity is how easy, fast, and economical it is to operate them.
1. Easily Cooks Tough Beans and Legumes
Protein-high legumes like chickpeas and navy beans are easily cooked under pressure.
Saucepans, on the other hand will take approximately 712 days to cook a cup of kidney beans!
2. Cooks Fast & Requires No Baby-Sitting
For someone who doesn’t have time to look after the cooking process, pressure cooker is a life-saver.
For some dishes like curries, soups, and stews, you just quick-stir the spices and ingredients, pour in some liquid, seal the lid, and let it cook.
It also reduces cooking time by up to 70% compared to conventional cooking.
3. Preserves Nutrition
Studies suggest that there is a high retention of antioxidants and vitamins in a pressure-cooked meal compared to the conventional one.
Because pressure cookers cook at a much lower temperature and shorten the cooking time, pressure cooking preserves nutrients better than steaming, roasting, etc.
4. Cooks Delicious Dishes
Pressure cooking preserves the flavor of food as a lot less water is used in cooking and the flavors are not diluted as they are on a stovetop cooking. Also because of the intense pressure, the flavors infuse further into the food.
5. Economical + Consumes Low Energy
Pressure cookers (specially Electric pressure cookers) are a lot more energy efficient than any other kitchen appliances.
6. One-Pot Cleanup
Another amazing ‘feature’ of these cookers is how easy it is to clean them as you’ll be only using one pot for the entire cooking duration.
How does a pressure cooker work?
A pressure cooker is essentially a pot which can be insulated with a lid and/or safety valves. When you shut the lid, you’re creating a sealed pressure system.
As you heat the pot, the liquid inside forms steam, which in turn raises the pressure in the pot. This has two implications:
- It raises the boiling point of the water in the pot
When you’re cooking something liquid-y like lentils or soups in a normal pot, the heat of your cooking is limited to the boiling point of water, i.e. 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 deg C).
But in a pressurized system, the boiling point can now get as high as 280 degrees Fahrenheit (137 deg C). This higher heat helps the food to cook much faster.
- It raises the pressure, forcing liquid into the food
The high pressure helps ‘push’ the steam/liquid/moisture into the food, which makes the food cook faster. This is apparent while cooking tough ingredients like beans, roots, and tubers.
What are the types of pressure cookers?
Pressure cookers can be classified based on their generation, origin, or the number of features they provide to make your cooking experience simpler.
1) First Generation (Jiggle-Top Pressure Cooker)
1st gen cookers offer a single pressure level, i.e. the steam is released through a weight-modified valve as soon as the pressure reaches a certain threshold.
The amount of pressure in the pot solely depends upon the weight of the valve. Despite the public perception, these cookers are actually really safe to operate – thanks to a secondary pressure safety valve.
2) Second Generation (Stove-Top Pressure Cooker)
These devices use spring-loaded valves and let the users choose a couple of pressure options.
Some higher models do not release the steam during operation and use indicators to show how far the pressure has reached.
3) Third Generation (Electric Cooker)
3rd gen cookers come with an electric source at the base that regulates the temperature (and thereby regulating the pressure).
They come with a timer and also allow Saute + Low Heat options for the extra flexibility. Instant Pot, which is taking the world by storm, is a perfect example of an Electric Pressure Cooker.
Which pressure cooker should you get?
If you’ve never had an experience with a pressure cooker, we highly recommend you go with the electrical ones. The number of cooking features like SAUTE, KEEP WARM, PRESSURE COOK (MANUAL) and multiple safety features will make it really easy down the road.
Instant Pot seems to be everyone’s favorite so if you decide to go with an IP, choose the size that suits all your needs. Rule of the thumb is the 6 quart (5.6 liters) will suffice a family of 2 to 4.
Vegan Recipes For Instant Pot
You can find a ton of vegan food blogs that post Instant Pot recipes. Alternatively, you can also invest in an IP specific cookbook. We highly recommend Nisha Vora’s (aka Rainbowplantlife‘s) cookbook with over 90 recipes Instant Pot vegan recipes.
If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love our Top 10 Vegan Protein Sources.