I've been thinking about buying a pressure cooker namely for making bone broth, oxtail stews, curries, risotto, artichoke, beets...on and on. Basically I think it would be super useful. After seeing the awesome gelatinousness of nomnompaleo's pressure cooker stocks http://nomnompaleo.com/post/16278541827/paleo-eats-1-21-12-whole30-day-21 I've been dreaming about being able to make gelatinous bone broths without the 18 hrs of slow cooker activity making my tiny apartment smell somewhat interesting.
Thoughts on nutrient status of pressure cooked foods? Many state pressure cookers retain more nutrients than regular cooking/steaming/boiling but Sally Fallon/WAPF seem to think that pressure cookers degrade nutrients and that pressure cookers are not a natural way of cooking things. I can't really seem to understand Sally Fallon's reasoning but being able to cook up foods in microwave time seems almost too good to be true. I would like to throw this one out to the crowd and see if someone has a better understanding of how pressure cookers work/its effect on nutrients compared to regular stovetop/slow cooker cooking. I saw that Stefan Guyenet seems to be a fan http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2012/06/pressure-cooker-for-21st-century.html
Thanks in advance!
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I switched to the pressure cooker method for making stock, and I love the convenience of it. Keep in mind that the type of pressure regulation valve makes a difference in how the stock comes out. I read an article about professional chefs comparing methods of making stock, and they found that the old fashioned pressure cookers with the little weighted top on the lid don't make very good stock, but that modern pressure cookers with updated valve technology, like the Kuhn-Rikon, make better stock than the slow simmer method. I have a Kuhn-Rikon, and it is definitely very high quality cookware.
I have had a pressure cooker for about two months now and LOVE it. I make gelatinous, rich broth in under an hour and then can it in pint jars. I've made sumptuous, tender short ribs with veggies in 45 minutes. I initially bought it so I could begin canning meats and raw veggies, but use it every few days to whip up a very healthy meal in a very short amount of time.
I am doubtful a great deal more nutrients are lost over simply cooking over several hours.
I adore mine. I make pulled pork, roasts, broth, mashed tubers of all sorts, greens of all sorts. It makes meals in literally 1/3 of the time that you would make them in the slow cooker or in the oven in some cases. Also, when you want things like soup in cold winter months and don't want to wait forever, this is your best bet. I mean who wants to sit around and watch a pot boil? As others mentioned, beef stew in under an hour (and some recipes only take 20 minutes).
As for the nutrient content, I think a lot of that varies by the amount of water content of the item you are cooking and how much water you actually add to the recipe. I use minimal amounts of water/other fluids for most of my cooking and try to use what comes out of items and add it back to my recipes somehow.
It's a great way to get creative too! Throw combos of veggies together to pressure steam them. Toss meat and veg combos together with spices! I can literally make dozens of dishes in a day if I want so it makes prep for my week super fast and easy. :) I recommend an electric one because it seems like a safer bet so far compared to my experiences with the old fashioned ones.
I've made tons of recipes Paleo-fied versions of recipes from this site: http://peggyunderpressure.com/
And this is the pressure cooker I own: http://www.dillards.com/product/Wolfgang-Puck-5Quart-Electronic-Pressure-Cooker_301_-1_301_501730085
You absolutely can't beat them for the convenience. Most foods cook 2-3 times as fast in a pressure cooker. So you can go from raw ingredients to beef stew in less than an hour. It seems kind of miraculous.
I don't have any hard facts on the nutritional quality of food that has been pressure cooked, but generally with a few exceptions I think that the more processed a food is, the less nutritious it is, so there might be some loss of nutrition. However, pressure cooked Paleo home cooking is probably 100 times better than any fast food so it's all relative.
In fact at this moment it is 6pm and I just learned that I am having company over and need to whip up a stew, and I can comfortably have something ready by 7:30pm...
Because you are using liquid in the pressure cooker and there is not exposure to air, there actually is more nutrient retention for vitamins (such as Vitamin C) which are destroyed by oxidation. You may lose some nutrition in the liquid you are using but often you are consuming the liquid, as in making soup, stew or chili, so very little, if any nutrients, are lost.
If you look at the color of the food and examine the texture of well pressure cooked foods, you can see that the food is NOT lifeless at all (unless you overcook it which is easy to do if you do not pay attention). My 1 to 2 minute cooked broccoli is beautiful, as are my 2 to 3 minute cooked carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, etc.
I highly recommend the pressure cooker but I am biased because I have a pressure cooking cookbook (The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less than 30 Minutes) and have been teaching people how to pressure cook for more than 16 years.
It's the best and fastest way to cook that I know of.