Monday, April 28, 2008

Slow Cooker v Pressure Cooker - Similarities

pressure cookerI recently wrote a comparison of the an article comparing the nutrient content of food cooked in a pressure cooker and a slow cooker, prompted by Clare of Veg Box Recipes blog who was confused because:

Both claim that their method preserves the highest number of nutrients and gives maximum flavour.

Can they both be right?

I found that unfortunately there isn't really any hard data about the nutrients. But what about taste?

I find them to be quite similar in this respect. They're both good for casseroles and soups. Everything you put in the pot ends up tasting the same. Flavours merge; for example, if you put a quartered chicken, a few vegetables, and some stock, red wine and herbs in the pot, the chicken will end up tasting of vegetables, the vegetables will end up tasting of chicken, and everything will be infused with the flavour of red wine and herbs. This is true of both pressure cooking and slow cooking.

Another thing they both have in common is that (depending on the timing) everything becomes very tender. Even cheap, tough cuts of meat become drop-off-the-bone tender, and even woody vegetables like parsnips become about-to-collapse soft.

Finally, they are both cheaper than conventional cooking methods. The slow cooker is cheaper because it draws very little electricity, and even though it is left on for several hours it is comparable to leaving a conventional lightbulb on for several hours, a very different proposition from running an electric oven for several hours. The pressure cooker is cheaper because it only runs for a few minutes, or a few tens of minutes at most, and it runs on the hob. Again this is obviously a lot cheaper than cooking a casserole in your oven for a few hours.

There will be two more articles in this series comparing pressure cookers and slow cookers. The next article will look at differences between the two methods, and the final article will include some of my favourite recipes for them. If you would like to share your favourite recipes, please email them to me. I'd particularly like to hear vegetarian recipes, and recipes that aren't for soups or casseroles.


Anonymous said...

I love slow-cooked food! I haven't done it yet, but I'm posting a Venezuelan Roast Beef recipe later today. Now that you mention it, I wonder if it could be done faster (oh, yes please!) in a pressure cooker.

Yellow said...

Now, I'm nervous of a pressure cooker, so I love our slow cooker. Like Wulf, we'll brown meat and onions and garlic (most of our meals start off with these 3 ingredients) in a hot pan, then transfer them to the slow cooker with the veg & liquor. We love to cook with beer & herbs. The slow cooker, as you said, is fantastic for cheap, chewy cuts of meat, turning them into melting morsals. I'll pull together some fav recipes & get back to you for the blog, Mel.
Just to add, I've found in the UK that slow cookers seem to come in two basic types - a) has a a pan with a lid you can use on the hob, then transfers to a hot plate kinda device to cook slowly, and b) which has a crockery pot with a lid that you can use in the oven, with a surround it sits in which is the electric slow cooker device for it. We use the former, which is also lined with non-stick.

Sandra said...

Mel you are one fabulous woman with great timing. I've sworn by pressure cooked chickpeas in the past - so much so I've thought it worth owning one just for cooking chickpeas in. But as I managed to break the lid of my pressure cooker earlier this year, I have the chickpeas soaking as I type and will experiment with cooking them in the slow cooker tomorrow, overnight.

If I had a large family, then I would do porridge in the slow cooker with apples or pears overnight, as it does come out divine. A bit overkill for porridge for two though.

antipodesgirl said...

hello Mel! as I got tagged by Marigold at marigoldmemoirs, you are in turned being tagged on Pushing up the daisies!
The rules:
* Link to the person who tagged you.
* Post the rules on your blog.
* Write six random things about yourself. And answer the questions below.
* Tag six people at the end of your post linking to their blog.
* Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
* Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

If you would like to follow up on this tag, just let me know when you have finished. It is a great way to spread the links of our blogs that we work so hard on. (but of course you won't get hit by lightning if you don't... and I guess you have done the old tagged business before. But i love your blog and so I love to advertise it! And I shall send you some pressure cooker recipes by mail ;-))

Melanie Rimmer said...

Sandra, you can cook presoaked chickpeas and many other kinds of beans in a slow cooker. Don't skip the pre-soaking stage, though. And don't forget to boil red kidney beans hard for at least ten minutes before adding them to the slow cooker. The Vegetarian Society recommends pre-boiling all varieties of dried beans before slow cooking. And don't slow-cook dried soya beans at all. Dried soya beans can be safely pressure-cooked because the pressure cooker gets so hot it detroys the toxins, or they can be boiled for 3 or 4 hours, but they can't be safely slow-cooked from what I've read.

I was going to cover all these points in a future article about the Differences Between Slow and Pressure Cookers, but since you raised the point about cooking dried chickpeas, I though I'd better mention this important saffety information sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

I'm nervous of pressure cookers too, although I wonder if the "new generation" of pressure cookers are less frightening? Is there likely to be any information which compares the cost of microwave cooking to slow cooking and pressure cooking, as now many microwaves have a simmer type setting too.

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