Pressure cooking is quite a popular way used to make tasty, quick and delicious Indian meals. The versatile pressure cooker also helps save on the use of oil, making pressure cooking a healthy cooking method. Healthy one dish meals can be prepared in a pressure cooker saving time and making cleaning up easier!
Since pressure cooking uses steam under pressure to cook foods, it is important that safety instructions be followed.
There are various methods to release the steam in the cooker as follows:
1. Natural release method: to use this method, remove the pressure cooker from the hot burner and let the pressure drop by cooling down naturally.
2. Quick release method: Also called the cold-water release method, it is used to release pressure quickly. To use this method, remove the pressure cooker from the burner, place in the sink and run cold water gently over the lid until the steam dissipates. When putting the pressure cooker in the sink, tilt the handle up so the water flows away from you.
Benefits of pressure cooking:
Preservation of nutrients: Pressure cooking helps retain the nutrients of foods. Due to the high heat and steam under pressure, cooking time is reduced. This helps reduce vitamin and mineral losses. This is especially important for water soluble nutrients like vitamin C and B complex vitamins.
Heat sensitive nutrients: Nutrients like vitamin C, folate and bioactive phytonutrients tend to lose their nutritional value. Pressure cooking helps retain these nutrients. Furthermore, the leftover liquid can be used for vegetable or meat based stocks which can help restore some of the nutrient losses.
Grains and legumes: Pressure cooking helps improve digestibility of macronutrients found in grains and legumes. It also helps to increase the bioavailability of nutrients. On the other hand, pressure cooking lowers the phytic acid content of legumes. Phytic acid is naturally present in plant sources of food and interferes with the uptake of nutrients by the body.
High heat cooking: Usually high heat cooking requires a lot of oil or fats. These can lead to the formation of toxins like acrylamide and certain carcinogens. Pressure cooking, though done at high heat does not result in the formation of these toxic compounds, unlike grilling.
Protein: Pressure cooking helps soften meats and denaturing protein, making it easier to digest. It also saves on the amount of oil being used while cooking, which makes it a healthy and time saving cooking method. An added plus for busy households!
Food temperatures: For those of us who choose to go organic, there is always a risk of infection from food borne pathogens. Even after washing vegetables well, these pathogens can still lurk in crevices or leaf folds. Due to high heat generated while pressure cooking, most pathogens are killed or rendered inactive.