By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© November 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.
Advantages Of Pressure Cooking
How Does A Pressure Cooker Work
Why Is More Yang Food Helpful?
The Two Types Of Pressure Cookers
Advantages Of Plug-In Electric Cookers
Advantages Of Stove-Top Cookers
Other Information – size, material, cost
Details About Specific Foods
Cookbooks And Internet Recipes
The best way to cook most 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 very fast cooking time minimizes damage to the nutrients in most foods.
- The food tastes very good.
- Cleanup is easy. The high-pressure steam helps cut grease.
- It is convenient because it is extremely fast.
- One can cook many types of food at the same time by properly slicing the food.
- There is no need to use fat or oil to cook in a pressure cooker.
HOW DOES A PRESSURE COOKER WORK?
Pressure cookers have a tight-fitting lid and a rubber seal between the lid and the pot. One puts a little water in the bottom of the pressure cooker, adds the food, closes up the cooker and turns on the power to heat up the pressure cooker.
As the pot heats up, the pressure inside the pot rises, and this forms super-heated steam - or steam at a higher temperature than 210 degrees F.
The combination of higher pressure and higher temperature cooks the food about 5 times faster than steaming, crock pots, 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.
WHY IS MORE YANG FOOD HELPFUL?
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.
Today’s pressure cookers are well-designed for safety, and they work well. However, a pressure cooker is a little scary, at first, because it cooks quickly, makes a little noise, and is unfamiliar to most people. It takes a little practice to be comfortable with it. Here are some cautions:
Never remove the weight on the top of a stove-top pressure cooker when the pot is hot. This will cause steam to shoot into the air and make a mess.
Overcooking food. It is easy to overcook food in a pressure cooker because it cooks so quickly. Be careful to stop the cooking at the right time, 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.
- 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.
- Stove-top units can run out of water. If you use a stove-top pressure cooker, be sure to remember to put enough water in the bottom. Otherwise, you can burn the pot and your food if the water boils off or you forget to put some in the pot.
Plug-in, electric cookers have an automatic shutoff if they run out of water and this is one of their advantages.
After you cook your vegetables, a number of our clients find that pureeing the vegetables with a hand blender helps them eat the vegetables. If possible, do not use a regular blender because it requires adding a lot of water, which dilutes the stomach acid.
TWO TYPES OF PRESSURE COOKERS
Two types of pressure cookers are available:
- Plug-in, electric pressure cookers. These are a newer type and have electronic timers and other electronic controls. Common brands are Instant Pot and others.
- Stove-top pressure cookers. These are the older type. They are not electronic and sit on the stove. Common brands are Presto, T-Fal, Cuisinart and others.
Either one will work. Here are comments about each type.
ADVANTAGES OF 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 inner bin does not weigh much. Cleaning an entire steel pressure cooker is somewhat more cumbersome.
- Does not take up space on your stove top. (It does take up counter space, however.)
- You can’t burn the food because the cooker shuts off automatically if the water runs out.
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. However, it is probably fine and somewhat easier to clean.
ADVANTAGES OF STOVE-TOP PRESSURE COOKERS
– Often a little less expensive.
- 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.
- Easier to put a coffee mug over the vibrating top to keep the steam in when releasing the steam pressure manually.
- It is a simpler device that has less to break and may last longer for this reason.
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.)
Size. Pressure cookers come in quart or liter sizes such as 4-quart, 6-quart, 8-quart and 10-quart sizes. 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. However, an aluminum pressure cooker will work.
The plug-in pressure cookers have an inner bin that is either stainless steel or Teflon-coated. Either one will work.
Cost. Stove-top pressure cookers are usually less expensive and cost about $40.00 USD or more. Plug-in units, larger units or fancier ones cost $80.00 to about $150.00 USD.
If you are using a new a new pressure cooker, rinse it out with soap and water to makes sure it is clean. You may want to put the rubber or silcone sealing ring in the sun for a day or two so it will outgas.
Add water. Place about 1/2 cup of preferably spring or carbon-only filtered tap water in the bottom of the pressure cooker. You will be drinking this water, so it should be water you want to drink.
(Instructions that come with pressure cookers often recommend using a cup of water in the cooker, but a ½ cup is enough.)
You do not need a rack or basket to put the food in. It is fine if it just sits in the water.
Add the food. Food that works well in a pressure cooker are vegetables, beans, some grains and some meats. See below for details.
Put the cover on tightly. If you wet the rubber seal ring first, the cover will slide on more easily.
Turn on the power. In a plug-in, electric unit, follow the instructions for setting the timer and turning on the unit. For a stove-top unit, turn on the stove.
Now wait a few minutes while the cooker heats up.
If you are using 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 2-3 minutes for the pressure cooker to achieve this pressure.
Turning down the power. In a plug-in unit, the cooker will automatically reduce the power when the cooker reaches its optimal temperature and pressure.
If you are using a stove-top pressure cooker, you must turn down the stove manually when the pressure cooker reaches its optimal pressure. You will know when this occurs because the top will start vibrating. If the food will cook in under four minutes, just turn off the stove when the top starts vibrating. The food will continue to cook without the stove being on. If your food requires a longer cooking time, then turn the stove to a low setting. You will have to experiment to find the right setting.
NOTE: The timer on many electric models does not have a setting of less than 5 minutes. If you food only requires 3 or 4 minutes, you must use a separate timer. Ideally, get one that measures seconds, because you may need to cook only 3 minutes, 30 seconds, for example.
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.
To 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 entire pot under cold water to reduce the pressure.
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 because the water is not that nutritious.
Clean up. Wash the entire stove-top cooker or the inner bin or your electric cooker with soap and water, 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. This is fine.
To wash the top of a stove-top cooker, remove the rubber sealing ring and on some models remove the small rubber pressure release valve. Make sure they are clean and then put them back.
DETAILS ABOUT PRESSURE-COOKING VARIOUS FOODS
Cooking time. The exact cooking time can depend upon your altitude above sea level, and even the humidity in your area.
Vegetables. You can cook most all vegetables in about 3.5 minutes. The pressure cooker works beautifully for vegetables. Vegetables require chopping up into chunks or slices, however, or cooking will take longer. Here are more details:
Rutabaga. Rutabaga is excellent for development if you can find it. Slice rutabaga thinly so it 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.
Cauliflower. The stems and leaves are excellent for development, not just the flowers. Be sure to slice the stems thin so they will cook in 3.5 minutes.
Broccolini. This is quite delicate and should not cook more than about 3.5 minutes.
Lamb. For lamb chops or other lamb, put a cut or several in the meat and it will cook in 3-5 minutes, along with your vegetables. Thicker cuts of meat will take longer.
Chicken. The best chicken for development is dark meat – legs or thighs. Remove most of the skin before cooking.
Legs and thighs with the bone require a few cuts in the meat so it will cook in about 3.5 minutes. Skinless, boneless chicken thighs usually do not require any cuts to cook in about 3.5 minutes.
Organic ground beef. This is excellent for development. Do not pressure cook it however, because it is a delicate food.
The best way to cook ground beef is to put a ‘hamburger’ patty of ground beef in a pot that has a little water in the bottom. Bring the water to a boil and cook the meat for only about 15 seconds. Then turn it over and cook it for about 10-15 seconds on the other side. Then serve. The inside should be warm or hot, but cooked rare and not really cooked much at all. This method of cooking is called braising.
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 some grains quickly in a pressure cooker.
You will need to use about three times as much water as grain. Some experimentation will be needed. For example, for one person you might put 1.5 cup of water and ½ cup of millet, quinoa or some other grain.
We do not suggest making oatmeal in a pressure cooker. The cooker tends to clog up and this could be dangerous.
COOKBOOKS AND INTERNET RECIPES
Most pressure cookers come with a cookbook, or you can find simple pressure-cooking recipes on the internet.
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.
A final warning, never remove the weight on the top of a stove-top pressure cooker when the pot is hot. It will spray steam all over the ceiling.