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Pressure Cookers in the 70s
I remember my mother using a pressure cooker when I was growing up. Of course hers was an old fashioned aluminum based cooker complete with the jiggling mechanism on top that spit and hissed. However, I don't recall any disastrous accidents, so I wasn't traumatized with regards to pressure cookers.
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My First Pressure Cooker
In my thirties, I invested in the Fagor pressure cooker. I already knew about the hazards of cooking with aluminum so the set I bought was stainless steel. It included an 8 quart pot and a 4 quart pot. I used it on and off but not on a regular basis. I did find it to be a bit of a challenge, because stove top pressure cookers have to be carefully watched. If you have an electric stove, like I did, you have to learn the switching method where you bring the cooker up to pressure and switch to a burner which is at a lower temperature. Then you have to adjust the heat manually on the burner until the hissing regulates. It is not something you can start and leave.
However, the construction of the pot itself was awesome. Heavy duty and perfect for steaming large amounts of vegetables, or making big pots of stock and soup, or chili. I still have these pots and use them regularly.
GAPS and Pressure Cooking
Then I started the GAPS Diet in December 2009. Dr. Natasha has answered a question at her Frequently Asked Questions page regarding pressure cooking:
Question: What are your thoughts about using an old-fashioned pressure cooker to expedite preparation of meat stocks?
Answer from Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride: I don't recommend pressure cooker, as it destroys food to a degree. It is better to cook food slowly on lower heat.
So I ignored anything I heard about pressure cookers for a long time.
Alleviating Concerns about Pressure Cooking Food
I heard that it was possibly a myth that nutrients were being “destroyed” by pressure cooking so I went Googling to see what I could find. Y'all know how it is on the Internet… if you want to find out if food is being destroyed you can find plenty of pros and cons. I decided to focus on the articles that said pressure cooking does not “destroy” food any more than other methods of cooking. Here are the articles I read which soothed my concerns:
- Dr. Andrew Weil: Is Pressure Cooking Healthy?
- Wellness Mama: Do Pressure Cookers Destroy Nutrients?
- Food Renegade: Is Pressure Cooking Healthy?
- Hip Pressure Cooking: Pressure Cooker Nutrition Myths
I respect Dr. Natasha very highly, but I decided that I wouldn't worry too much about nutrients being damaged, since other methods of cooking also damage nutrients.
The Popular and Modern Pressure Cooker
My friends rave about their Instant Pots every so often which would get me thinking about having one of my own. And I've always loved the idea of pressure cookers, mostly since you can cook so much faster. According to the manufacturer, cooking with high pressure can reduce cooking time by up to 70%. We only have so many hours in the day… we do a lot of cooking when eating real food so the option of being able to cook faster is definitely enticing.
On Black Friday, November 27, 2015… I caved and bought my Instant Pot. I purchased the IP-DUO60 7-in-1Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker. It was on sale for $78.50, which was a really great price. On Amazon PRIME day last month (July 12th), it went down to $69.99! So if you are planning to buy an Instant Pot, definitely watch for sales on holidays at Amazon.
My Favorite Instant Pot Recipe So Far
I've had my Instant Pot for 8 months. I have mostly used it as a pressure cooker. One of the recipes I have perfected and shared here at the blog is Copycat Chipotle Carnitas Salad Bowl (Pulled Pork in the Instant Pot). For this recipe, I used the saute/browning feature, plus pressure cooking. I am also working to perfect a chicken stock/soup recipe to share.
3 Things I Love About My Instant Pot
Three things I love about the Instant Pot vs. my old-style stove top pressure cooker:
- With the Instant Pot, you program it, and leave it (unlike the stove top pressure cooker where I had to babysit it constantly to assess when to turn the heat up or down, switching burners, etc.).
- The Instant Pot is silent. No hissing or spitting while cooking, like the traditional stove-top pressure cooker. (It does hiss when you are releasing pressure quickly).
- The Instant Pot includes a stainless steel insert, which can be removed. This makes it easy to refrigerate the leftovers.
The Other Features
Now, in addition to pressure cooking, the Instant Pot also functions in six other ways:
- Slow Cooker
- Rice Cooker
- Yogurt Maker
So… you may be able to free up some space on your counter top, or in your cupboards.
With the slow cooker function, you can put the ingredients into the stainless steel insert, set the timer to begin later, slow cook for the day and when it's done, it will automatically switch to the warming function to keep your food warm. Can you imagine putting ingredients into the pot for stock and coming home to flavorful and nutritious broth?
I have also used the “rice cooker” setting to cook buckwheat, which is an advanced food on GAPS, and the saute/browning, steamer, and warmer functions.
To help me use my Instant Pot more fully, I invested in Hip Pressure Cooking. Laura D.A. Pazzaglia is the founder of the blog hippressurecooking.com and her book has more than 240 recipes to help you get the most out of your modern pressure cooker. I will admit it has a lot of recipes that are not GAPS legal, but it is a wealth of information on modern day pressure cooking.
Instant Pot's Built-in Safety Mechanisms
The last thing I wanted to mention are the safety features in place in the Instant Pot.
Visit the Instant Pot site to read more about each safety mechanism more fully, but here is a bullet point:
- Pressure regulator protection
- Anti-blockage vent
- Leaky lid protection
- Extreme temperature & power protection
- Excess pressure protection
- Safety indicator & lid lock
- Lid close detection
- Automatic pressure control
- Automatic temperature control
- High temperature warning