... the proponents of both pressure cookers and slow cookers claim their method is the best way of cooking food. Both claim that their method preserves the highest number of nutrients and gives maximum flavour.
Can they both be right?
I dunno, Clare. I see the source of your confusion - one cooks really fast, the other cooks really slow. They seem like opposites, so how can they both be the best?
Some nutrients are destroyed by heat, which suggests that slow cookers (which cook at below boiling point) might preserve more nutrients than pressure cookers (which cook at much higher than boiling point, made possible because of the increased pressure). On the other hand, the slow cool cooking process in a slow cooker can lead to loss of nutrients through enzyme action. These enzymes would normally be denatured by cooking, but because it takes longer for a slow cooker to reach the temperature at which that happens, the enzymes have longer to destroy the nutrients.
So where does that leave us? Nowhere, to be honest. I can't find any data comparing the nutrient content of slow cooked v pressure cooked food. If you know of any reliable data I'd love to hear about it. Otherwise all I can offer is an item of faith - a home-cooked meal from fresh ingredients is likely to contain more nutrients than any ready-meal or fast-food meal, regardless of the cooking method.
I have more to say about slow cookers and pressure cookers, so look out for other articles to come. I'd also love to hear (and maybe try) your favourite pressure and slow cooker recipes. Please email me with recipes or hard facts about nutrients.