Cooking with a pressure cooker has some green living advantages.
If you have not cooked with a modern pressure cooker before, you are in for a treat. Cooking with a pressure cooker is easy, fast and cost-effective.
This page gives some of the advantages of pressure cookery from a green living perspective and explores some of the types of cookery for which pressure cookers are suitable.
There's also a recipe for delicious Lancashire hot pot.
Incredibly, you can save as much as a two-thirds of your normal cooking fuel and you can save a similar amount of time for each dish cooked.Using a pressure cooker for your cooking is a very green option because of the fuel savings you will achieve. Gas and electric cookers alike contribute significant carbon-dioxide emissions. These are emitted during combustion for gas and during production for electricity.
And of course you will shave your fuel money down considerably. Pity you cannot use them to grill!
If you haven't yet bought a pressure cooker, there are some good options.
See also pressure cookers for tips on what's best to buy.
One of the delights of cooking with a pressure cooker is that it allows you to tackle recipes which would otherwise be off-putting because of the length of time involved. Stews, hot pots and steamed puddings become very do-able, even in the most time-conscious homes. Even Christmas pudding becomes quick and easy.
Dedicated home-steaders also use pressure cookers for canning. Some of the larger models are particularly suitable for this. If you grow a lot of your own fruit and vegetables this is a very worthwhile consideration.
Modern pressure cookers are user-friendly and don't require constant attention. Set them up correctly and you can go and get on with other things, for the most part.
If you like to use top quality organic meat in your green living diet, a pressure cooker is a great asset because it enables you to use some of the cheap cuts of meat to make flavoursome stews and casseroles. Cooking with a pressure cooker lets you get every ounce of flavour and goodness out of the ingredients.
You can also make stocks for use in other recipes. Use the bones from cuts of meat or chicken to produce wonderful stocks which can be added to soups and other dishes to provide more nutrition and flavour.
Another way to use your pressure cooker to good effect is to make puddings which would otherwise require steaming for a long time.
See below for a good selection of books on using a pressure cooker.
When cooking with a pressure cooker you retain more of the natural vitamin content of the food. This is because the food cooks for a shorter length of time, though at higher temperatures.
This is especially useful when cooking vegetables, as in conventional boiling a lot of the vitamin content is destroyed.
Your pressure cooker can be used to steam vegetables which preserves more of the vitamin and mineral content. This high temperature but fast cooking is one of the main advantages of pressure cookers.
Most pressure cookers have trivets for steaming as part of the equipment.
Most of the recipes on Greenfootsteps can be adapted for cooking with a pressure cooker. Adjust the times to suit. For most dishes you will need from 1/4 to 1/3 of the cooking time.
Here is a recipe for Lancashire Hot-Pot to get you started.
Times: about 15 minutes on high pressure (15lbs weight)
2 lbs potatoes
1 or two onions
2 or 3 sticks of celery
1/2 a pound of carrots
1 1/2 pounds of neck of lamb or mutton
1/2 pint of stock
salt and pepper
Slice or cube all the vegetables. Put the ingredients into the pressure cooker with potatoes at the bottom. Add the stock and seasoning. Fit the lid and heat until it is at pressure.
After 15 minutes cool quickly under a running tap to stop the cooking. (If water use is an issue, use a bowl of water which can then be kept for other uses.) Release the pressure. Check that everything is properly cooked and tender. Serve.
This is one of the very best books available on using a pressure cooker. It gives you all the basics of using modern pressure cookers and lots of inventive ways to adapt recipes. Highly recommended!
This is also by Lorna J Sass and brings culinary expertise and flair to using a pressure cooker for vegetarian fare.
This book contains all kinds of different recipes, including many for meat. There are also charts for timings and pressures and lots of techniques to get the best from your pressure cooking.
Presto 23-Quart Pressure Cooker and Canner gets rave reviews. It is the real deal - especially if you want to can your own food. As a pressure cooker it's good choice for people who have large families. The All American is also highly rated by fans of canning. It is also available through Amazon - pictured below.
Cooking with a pressure cooker may be a realistic choice for some only if the cooker is electric. Personally I don't favour them as I think there is more to go wrong - but then I've never yet used one. Once set up correctly they should afford more peace of mind as they are less likely to overheat.
The Cuisinart CPC-600 1000-Watt 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker is probably the best of the breed!
If you have experience of using an electric pressure cooker, please add your experiences to the Your Tips page - thank you!
A slow cooker is one other option. These devices are essentially simple; see Buy a slow cooker for cheap, easy dinners for further information. These devices are not pressurised, so you lose the advantage of speed but you can leave them to cook for hours unattended - once set up right.
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