By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© July 2018, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Note: The suggestions of how long to cook food in a pressure cooker seem to be inaccurate in some booklets and websites such as https://fastcooking.ca/pressure_cookers/cooking_times_pressure_cooker.php#2. The times are much too long, in our experience.
The best way to cook vegetables, meats, grains and legumes is pressure-cooking. Its advantages are:
- The food is of excellent quality. It is more yang in macrobiotic terms, and this is a great advantage.
- The food tastes better.
- Cleanup is easy. The high-pressure steam cuts the grease.
- It is extremely fast. When it reaches optimal pressure, most vegetables and meats cook in 2.5 to 5 minutes. A few more minutes are needed to heat up the pressure cooker.
- One can cook many types of food at the same time by properly slicing the food.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Pressure cookers have a tight-fitting lid and a rubber seal between the lid and the pot. One puts some water in the pressure cooker, and brings it to a boil. If one continues to apply heat, the pressure inside the pot rises, and this forms super-heated steam - or steam at a higher temperature.
The combination of higher pressure and higher temperature cooks the food about 5 times faster than steaming, boiling, baking or stir-frying the food.
Also, baking, roasting, frying, or stir-frying involve very high temperature that damages the food more. Pressure-cooking involves only a slight increase in the temperature of cooking because the pressure does the rest.
All bodies today are too yin in macrobiotic terminology, even those of newborn babies. This has to do with pollution on the planet, our mineral-depleted soil and food supply, radiation on the planet and stray electromagnetic fields everywhere.
For healing, and particularly for Development, the bodies must become much more yang. The added pressure and heat of a pressure cooker causes food to become more yang, and this is an important advantage of this cooking method.
1. A pressure cooker is a little scary, at first. They make some noise, too. However, they are well-designed today for safety, and they work well. It just takes a little practice to be comfortable with it.
2. It is easy to overcook food in a pressure cooker because it cooks so quickly. So one must be careful to stop the cooking, including releasing the pressure when it is time to do so.
(This is particularly true if you pressure-cook your coffee for a coffee enema. Only about 14 seconds at full pressure are needed.) More will damage the coffee.
HOW TO TELL WHEN FOOD IS PROPERLY COOKED
Your ideal cooking time will vary from location to location. It can depend upon your altitude above sea level, and even the humidity in your area. Also, in some areas of the earth, the time needed for proper cooking is decreasing due to changes in the earth’s energy fields. Here are some guidelines about how long to cook food.
Meat. Meat should be cooked through, not raw. However, it should be juicy. If it is dried out, it is overcooked.
In general, do not cook meat more than 1 hour, although exceptions are baking a turkey, for example, which requires a number of hours.
Vegetables. Steaming and crock pots usually require 30-40 minutes. Pressure-cooking usually requires about 2 to 3 minutes. Vegetables that are crunchy are undercooked.
However, it is also easy to overcook vegetables. Vegetables should retain most of their color when cooked correctly. If the color is gone or washed out, the vegetables are usually overcooked. Vegetables that are mushy and fall apart are also overcooked.
Properly cooked vegetables also have a good taste. Overcooked, they taste somewhat flat or “empty”.
Never remove the weight on the top of a pressure cooker when the pot is hot.
Size. Pressure cookers come in quart or liter sizes such as 4-quart, 6-quart, 8-quart and 10-quart sizes. Also, one can only fill them up 2/3 of the way.
If you use the cooker once a day to cook enough food for three meals, for one person a 4-quart size is good. For some reason, food tastes very good in a Presto stainless steel 4-quart pressure cooker.
Cooking for more people will require a 6-quart model or larger.
Materials. Pressure cookers are made of either stainless steel or aluminum. We prefer stainless steel. It is stronger, longer lasting, and does not contaminate the food, as can occur with aluminum.
Cost. The least expensive are about $40.00 US dollars in America. We don’t know the cost in other nations. Fancy ones can cost over $100.00.
THE TWO TYPES OF PRESSURE COOKERS
Two types of pressure cookers are available:
1. Stove-top pressure cookers. These look just like a pot that sits on the stove. Common brands are Presto, T-Fal, Cuisinart and others.
2. Plug-in, electric pressure cookers. Common brands are Instant Pot and others.
Either one will work. Here are comments about each type. For a stove-top unit we like the Presto brand, 4-quart, pressure cooker. It is available on the internet and at some stores. For the free-standing electric ones, I think they are all made by the same manufacturer and different names are put on them, so the brand is less important.
STOVE-TOP MODELS VERSUS ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKERS
ADVANTAGES OF THE PLUG-IN, ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKERS:
- Less to clean. You only clean the lightweight bin inside the machine, not the whole device.
- Lighter weight cleaning. The bin does not weigh much. Cleaning an entire steel pressure cooker is somewhat more cumbersome.
- Built-in timer with automatic shutoff. This saves a step and is nice, though not necessary.
- Does not take up space on your stove top. (It does take up counter space, however.)
1. Outgassing. With any pressure-cooker, if the rubber seal is whitish in color, it will impart a slightly foul taste to the food until the seal outgases. To speed up outgassing, put the seal in the sun for at least 2 days when you first buy the machine.
Also, some electric models have an inner bin that is Teflon-coated. This might outgas and impart a little bad flavor to the food, as well.
2. Harder to contain the steam when you release the steam pressure manually.
ADVANTAGES OF THE STOVE-TOP MODELS:
– May be less expensive, although this is changing.
- They don’t take up counter space.
- They don’t have a Teflon-coated inner bin that will outgas some toxic chemicals for a while. Brands that have this are Cuisinart, Bella and Castle Creek. You may be able to buy a stainless steel inner bin for these units from a company called Instant Pot.
- Easier to put a coffee mug over the vibrating top to keep the steam in when releasing the steam pressure manually.
- Simpler device.
Possible problems: More to clean and heavier to clean because you must clean the entire pot, not just an inner bin.
Also, it requires more attention because you must turn off the flame on the stove when the cooker reaches operating pressure. (The electric ones do this automatically.)
COOKING WITH A PRESSURE COOKER
General instructions. To cook vegetables or meats (you can cook them at the same time):
1. Clean and chop up vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
2. To cook meat in 3-5 minutes you may need to put a cut in the meat if it is thick, such as a thick lamb chop or large chicken drumstick.
3. Place about 1/2 cup of preferably spring or carbon-only filtered tap water in the bottom of the pressure cooker. (Instructions that come with pressure cookers often recommend using a cup of water for vegetables, but ½ cup is enough.)
If you have a stove-top cooker you can turn on the flame at this time.
4. You do not need a rack or basket to put the food in. It is fine if it just sits in the water.
5. Now add the vegetables, and chicken thighs or perhaps lamb chops, chicken or beef. They can all cook together in the water. Do not cook grains at the same time – they require more time.
6. Put the cover on tightly. If you wet the rubber seal ring first, the cover will slide on more easily.
7. With a stove-top unit, do not set a timer until the weight on the top of the cooker starts to vibrate. This indicates the cooker is at its ideal pressure. It takes 1 to 3 minutes for the pressure cooker to achieve this pressure.
When the top starts vibrating, set a timer for 2-4 minutes and turn off the stove. (It will continue to cook without the stove being on.) You will have to experiment to see exactly how much time your cooking requires. It depends upon your altitude and perhaps other factors.
With a plug-in, electric unit, when it reaches pressure and the top starts to vibrate, set the timer for about 2-4 minutes. The timer on many electric models does not have a setting for this short a time. In this case, use a separate timer. Ideally, get one that measures seconds, because you may need to cook only 2 minutes, 30 seconds, for example.
With this type of cooker, the heat turns down automatically when the cooker reaches its ideal pressure. Reaching pressure takes a minute or two.
7. When the timer rings, release the pressure quickly. This is very important because otherwise the food will continue to cook, even with no power going to the cooker.
Do do this with a stove-top pressure cooker, tilt the weight on the top and it releases the steam. DO NOT COMPLETELY REMOVE THE WEIGHT ON THE TOP, AS YOU WILL SPEW STEAM ALL OVER YOUR CEILING!
Hint: To keep steam from spewing all over when you release the pressure, you can cover the weight that is on the top of the pressure cooker with a plastic or ceramic mug.
Plug-in, electric pressure cookers and some brands of stove-top cookers have a button you push to release the steam quickly. Try to cover the opening so the steam does not go everywhere.
Some stove-top pressure cookers do not allow you to tilt the top to release the pressure. In this case, you will have to put the pot under cold water to reduce the pressure.
8. If you cook vegetables, be sure to drink the water in which you cook your vegetables. It is quite sweet and contains a lot of minerals. You can drink it hot as soon as you remove the vegetables from the pot, or you could save it in the refrigerator for later. Drinking it immediately is a little better. If you just cook meat, we do not recommend drinking the water in which you cook the meat.
9. Clean up. Just use soap and water on the pressure cooker, as you would for any other pot. The author uses the pressure cooker several times a day and does not wash it in between uses during the day. That seems fine.
Also, remove the rubber sealing ring and makes sure it is clean.
DETAILS ABOUT PRESSURE-COOKING VARIOUS FOODS
Vegetables. You can cook most all vegetables in 2.5-4 minutes. The pressure cooker works beautifully for vegetables. Vegetables require chopping up into chunks, however, or cooking will take longer.
Especially slice rutabaga thinly, and cut cauliflower leaves into thin pieces so they will cook in just a few minutes.
A great advantage of pressure-cooking rutabaga is that if you slice it finely, the slightly unpleasant “rutabaga taste” will go away with pressure-cooking. Rutabaga is a very important vegetable to have every day or better, have a little with every meal while on a nutritional balancing program. Ripe rutabagas are a little soft. For details, read Foods For Daily Use and Know Your Vegetables.
Meats. For lamb chops or chicken legs, put a cut or two in the meat and it will cook in 3-5 minutes, along with your vegetables. Thicker cuts of meat may take a little longer.
Skinless, boneless chicken thighs usually do not require any cuts and cook in 5 minutes or even a little less.
Coffee. Pressure-cooking coffee for coffee enemas is excellent – better than boiling it, much better than coffee makers, and very fast. Beware – it only takes about 14 seconds once the cooker reaches its ideal pressure! Longer will damage the coffee.
Cooking grains. We recommend blue corn chips, rather than a lot of other grains. However, you can cook grains quickly in a pressure cooker.
You will need to add about twice as much water as you add grain to the pressure cooker. Some experimentation will be needed. For example, for one person you might put 1 cup of water and ½ cup of millet, quinoa or rice.
We do not suggest making oatmeal in a pressure cooker. The cooker tends to clog up and this could be dangerous.
Most pressure cookers come with a cookbook, or you can find simple pressure-cooking recipes on the internet.
Once again, never remove the weight on the top of a pressure cooker when the pot is hot.