Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pressure Cooker Facts: Stove Top and Electric

More than few of you have asked me which pressure cookers I own and what is the difference between the stove top and electric models.  Since it is easier to tell you all at once rather than individually by email I thought a post on the topic was in order.

Why use a pressure cooker?

The obvious place is why does anyone actually need a pressure cooker and what can it do that other cooking methods can’t.  What pressure cookers do extremely well is speed up the cooking process.  Utilizing a sealed environment within the vessel increases the boiling point.  What this means is that the food isn’t boiling at 212 degrees but rather at a higher temperature (approximately 248 degrees).  This increase in temperature decreases the time that is required to cook the food.  It also means that the high temperature steam is better able to penetrate the food. This is why the cooking time is reduced.

Pressure cookers are wonderful for quickly making infused broths (think the broth for Tom Yum or Pho). Additionally pressure cookers are good at cooking beans which still retain their shape. 

Benefits of pressure cooking in general:
  • Speed
  • Convenience
  • Better digestibility of beans and whole grains
  • Uses less energy than standard cooking methods
The difference between stove top and electric pressure cookers

My first pressure cooker was a Fagor 6-Qt which I used for a while (at least a year) before getting an electric pressure cooker. The Fagor is easy to use. It has both a high and low pressure setting which I liked a lot.  The pressure release valve is not complicated and the interior is stainless which I like. Additionally since it is a stove-top model it can be used when the power goes out. If your power is unreliable I would suggest sticking with a stove-top model.  The other benefit it has over the electric model is that it can be used on the stove-top as a regular pot. One drawback this has is that you need to be in the kitchen to turn down the heat once pressure is achieved.  Additionally you need to be available to turn off the heat when the appropriate time has expired.

My Cuisinart electric pressure cooker reminds me of a rice cooker.  Those of you who love your rice cookers will enjoy this. With this machine I choose the pressure (with buttons on the front panel), key in the time required lock the lid and walk away. The machine automatically stops when the cooking time under pressure has elapsed.  What I really like is the machine turns itself to warm when it is finished. This means I can be detained for quite a long time and my food isn’t overcooked or cold.  One drawback to this machine is that you can’t use the insert on top the stove.  Additionally the insert comes with a non-stick pan which I didn’t love. However you can buy replacement pans that are stainless from Amazon for approximately $25 if you are like me and don’t like the chemicals in “non-stick” coating.

Which type is better stove-stop or electric?

I have been pondering this question off and on all day while sketching this post out in my mind. I have electric and stove-top pressure cookers both at home and on the boat.  If I could only have one I would choose the electric model.  I have come to rely on the automatic movement to warm from pressure feature.  I often make soup or red sauce in my electric pressure mid-afternoon and then let is stay hot on warm until Dan comes home. This feature is very handy and I would miss it.

I hope this helped you to understand pressure cooking a little bit better.  If you have any questions that I didn’t cover please let me know.

Happy thoughts:
  1. Monday was a good day for me. I had some “me time” to get my life a bit more under control. It was crazy cold here Monday morning but I got my chilly behind outside for some cardio and then I felt SO much better.  No matter how much I don’t want to exercise I never regret it once I have gotten it done.  It is almost as though sweating is good for my soul.  *looks around* Who typed that?  Kidding!  *wink*
  2. I made a terrific smoky lentil and mushroom soup today in my pressure cooker.  *happy dance*  Smoked paprika provided the smokiness that you typically get from bacon.  I also added a touch of turmeric and black pepper for their nutrition components.  I just love when healthy food is also delicious.  BTW Dan really liked this so I will be making it again this winter and will measure the ingredients so that I can share it since it was such a big hit.
  3. Now it is true confession time.  That 0.6 pounds that I gained from Ian’s food on Friday has not completely gone away yet and I am a bit annoyed. I decided late today that tomorrow will be a juice fast day unless the weight is gone tomorrow when I get on the scale.  I don’t want this weight sticking around until the weekend so it is  time to ramp up the attack.  ;-)  The reason I am sharing this is to let you all know that dropping added weight isn’t easy for anyone.  This is one of the reasons that it makes sense to keep it off in the first place IMO.  This also reminds me that I am grateful for my juicer.
  4. The weather tomorrow is supposed to be brutally cold.  I can’t say that I am looking forward to that. However I have decided that cardio tomorrow will be in the comfort of my home.  I am thinking a little biking may be in order. I am grateful that I have the option of exercising at home and don’t have to go outside to break a sweat.
  5. I also want to send a shout out to Matt who is still smoke and meat free.  You are amazing Matt!  Keep up the great work and let me know if there is anything that I can do to help.  :-)  I am so thrilled for you.  
Signing out:

I have gotten into the bad habit of writing my posts later in the day which I really need to stop doing.  Scrambling at 11:30 to get a post up at midnight is a bit crazy. Let’s hope I can finish my writing earlier in the day tomorrow.  *fingers crossed*

For those of you on the US east coast please bundle up tomorrow. From what I gather most of us are in for a steep dip in the Canadian air mass.  When I last looked at the weather our high on Tuesday was supposed to be 27. All I can say to that is brrrr. That is quite a drop from the 59 we had on Sunday.  Come on spring we miss you!

I hope your week started off really well.  I will chat with you again tomorrow. Ciao for now.


  1. I absolutely love my electric pressure cooker. It's called "Instant Pot" and I got it on Ebay after a lot of research. It's saved me a lot of time in the kitchen. I mainly cook beans, grains and soups in it in large quantities to last the week. I use mine 3-4 times a week and sometimes twice a day! My Vitamix and Instant Pot are my most used kitchen appliances.

    1. Good morning Nadine,

      You are reading my mind. I do the same thing with my pressure cooker. Now that you mention it I have to agree with you. My Vitamix and pressure cooker are the most used appliances in my kitchen too, followed closely by my juicer lately. ;-)

      I hope all is well with you on the West Coast, ((hugs))

    2. Thanks Ali, hugs back :) I've been busy, but doing well! Enjoying the ocean as always, plus we now have an added family member - a pint sized chihuahua.

      I do love juicing too. Yesterday, we each had a huge glass of fresh made carrot juice. I would say that my third most used appliance is my food processor as I use it a lot of chopping or shredding veggies or making bean burgers.

  2. Thanks for this post! I was glad you recommended the Cuisinart. We were walking around the mall yesterday and I saw it at Williams-Sonoma for the same price as at Amazon so I bought it! I didn't have a chance to try it last night...hopefully tonight.

    1. Good morning Statch,

      Williams-Sonoma is a dangerous store for me too LOL. I think you will really enjoy your new electric pressure cooker. I like it so much I gave one to a friend for Xmas this year too. Looking forward to hearing how your first experience goes using it. :-)

      have a great day at work,

    2. I used the new pressure cooker last night. I got my husband to help me set it up and operate it to make sure I did it right. Then we hovered over it anxiously for a while when it didn't appear to be doing anything, but finally the floater started coming up and then the timer started counting down. Whew! (I knew it was safe, but still...) I made a pound of navy beans to start with. It was fun! I froze them in 1 1/2 cup servings. No more buying canned beans! Thanks for being so encouraging about this.

      Our local grocery store (Shopper's Food Warehouse) has a great international section, with a large Hispanic section that has a wonderful selection of dried beans. I've been curious about the small Salvadoran black and white beans -- now I can try them.

    3. Statch,

      Nice! *happy dance* I am so excited that you got your pressure cooker out right away. You are more brave than I am. It took me a year to use my cooker after I bought it. LOL I can see lots of beans in your future. :-)

      Shopper's does have a nice international section. That is the closest grocery store to the boat so I have been in there a few times myself.

      have a great Thursday,

  3. I have the cuisinart electric pressure cooker which is also a slow cooker. I use the pressure cooker to cook soups among other dishes. I am really pleased with having both features.

    1. Louise,

      Someone was just asking me about a pressure cooker/slow cooker combination yesterday. Thank you so much for letting me know that you like the versatility. :-)

      hope your day has started off well,


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