by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© July 2023, LD 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.
WARNING 11/2020. We have just become aware that some pressure cookers are damaging vegetables.
The plug-in electric models seem to have more problems, especially Instant Pots. Do not use them for anything, not even slow cooking!
Buy only a non-electric, stove-top model of the brands listed above. Brands that seem to be safe are Presto, TFAL and Fissler. Avoid others at this time.
Advantages Of Pressure Cooking
How Does A Pressure Cooker Work
Why Is Pressure-Cooked 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 all vegetables, some grains and legumes is pressure-cooking. Its advantages are:
- The very fast cooking time minimizes damage to the nutrients in most foods. As a result, the food quality is better.
- The food is more yang in macrobiotic terms due to the extra heat and pressure. This is also an advantage.
- 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. This avoids the formation of toxins (AGES) that form when one fries, roasts, bakes or stir-fries food.
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 five 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 PRESSURE-COOKED FOOD SO HELPFUL?
All bodies today are much too cold or yin in macrobiotic terminology, even those of newborn babies. This means cold, expanded, and today it means ill.
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 details, read Yin Disease.
For healing, and particularly for Development, the bodies must become much warmer or more yang in macrobiotic terminology. 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.
TodayŐs 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 and one must keep it clean. 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 very 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.
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, Fissler 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 canŐt burn the food because the cooker shuts off automatically if the water runs out.
The big problem:
Recently, we found that plug-in electric pressure cookers are often damaging the food. For this reason, we do not recommend them at all right now. We will update this article if the problem is solved.
Lesser problems are that 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 donŐt take up counter space.
- They donŐt 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.
WARNING! Ignore the instructions for cooking times that come with pressure cookers. In our experience, they are wrong and will overcook your food.
If you are using 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 1/4-1/2 cup of preferably spring or carbon-only filtered tap water in the bottom of the pressure cooker. If you are cooking vegetables, 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 the food just sits in the water.
Add the food. Food that works well in a pressure cooker are vegetables, beans, some grains. I cook chicken in the pressure cooker, but only for about 1 minute and 30 seconds or less. 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. For a stove-top unit, turn on the stove.
Pressure level. If your pressure cooker has a choice regarding high or low pressure, start with low pressure. High pressure could damage the food although the pressure varies depending on the brand of cooker.
Now wait a few minutes while the cooker heats up.
Timing. Do not start the timer until the weight on the top of the cooker starts to vibrate or the cooker whistles. This indicates the cooker is at its ideal pressure. It usually takes at least a minute or a little longer 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. If the food will cook in under four minutes, such as with vegetables and meats, turn off the stove completely 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 some electric models does not have a setting of less than 5 minutes. Since the food only requires 2 minutes, you must use a separate timer. Buy one that measures seconds, because we find that the time might not be exactly 2 minutes.
Never pressure-cook longer than 2.5 minutes or so. Longer than that overcooks the vegetables. Cut the rutabaga, cauliflower stems, celery and golden beets very thin so they cook fast.
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 many pressure cookers, 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 or even a rag or something else.
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 better.
If you just cook chicken, you can drink the water in which the chicken was cooked. We do not recommend drinking the water in which you cook other meat because the water is not that nutritious. We donŐt recommend cooking most other meats in the pressure cooker because they easily overcook.
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 washes the whole thing once a 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. Check the hole at the center of the top of some cookers to make sure it is clear.
DETAILS ABOUT PRESSURE-COOKING VARIOUS FOODS
Cooking time. The following cooking times are approximate. The exact cooking time might depend upon your altitude above sea level.
Vegetables. At our altitude, we use about 2 minutes 15 seconds to cook all vegetables (which are cut up so they cook easily.) At sea level, the time should be a little shorter. Never cook vegetables more than 3 minutes.
The pressure cooker works beautifully for vegetables. Vegetables require chopping up into chunks. Rutabaga, cauliflower leaves, celery and golden beets require cutting them into very thin slices. Here are more details:
Beets, (golden only). Eat just a thin slicee two or three times a week. Slice it very thin.
Broccolini. This is quite delicate.
Cabbage (red and Savoy). Cut up a small piece of leaf.
Cauliflower. This is really two vegetables – the flowers and the stems. Both are excellent for development. Slice the stems thin so they will cook fast. The flowers can be in chunks. (At this time, the author does not eat cauliflower because it does not test well. We donŐt know why this is so.)
Celery. Use just a very little and slice it very thin so it cooks properly.
Daikon. Cut a fairly thin slice. We like white and purple daikon radish. It is very different from red radishes, which we donŐt recommend much except as an occasional food.
Garlic. Have a small clove or section about 2-3 times a week. There is no need to cut it up. Just peel it.
Ginger. Have a very thin slice a few times per week.
Green beans. DonŐt cut these up much. Have one green bean if you have a number of vegetables.
Onions, all types including leeks and shallots. Cut up into small chunks.
Rutabaga. Slice it very thin. When cooked properly, the slightly unpleasant Ňrutabaga tasteÓ goes away and it tastes sweet.
Lamb. For lamb chops, put a cut in the meat lengthwise if it is a large lamb chop. A thin chop will cook in about 50 seconds. A thicker one will take up to 1.5 minutes.
Dark meat chicken. We cook whole chicken wings in the pressure cooker for about 1 and a half minutes only, with the skin on. Chicken thighs or legs require a few cuts in the meat and then cook for just a minute or so or until the meat is not pink.
Never cook it in a pressure cooker for more than 3 minutes.
Organic or grass fed ground beef. This is excellent for development. Do not pressure cook it however, because it is a delicate food.
Three ways to cook beef are:
1. Grind up the meat in a meat grinder. Put a very small amount of water in the bottom of a pot and when it is hot, put in the ground meat. Stir it around just until it begins to turn grayish and then take is out and strain out the water. Do not overcook meat.
2. Cut steak thin and cook in water on both sides just until it is cooked on the outside and warm on the inside. This is braising.
3. Put a ÔhamburgerŐ 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 10-15 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 not really cooked much at all. This method of cooking is called braising. It is the only way to preserve certain compounds that are very helpful for development.
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 14 seconds once the cooker reaches its ideal pressure! Longer will damage the coffee.
Cooking grains. We recommend blue corn chips, rather than other grains. Only blue corn contains some compounds needed for development. Soaking, grinding and cooking the corn for cereal does not work as well.
You can cook some other grains 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.
Do not make oatmeal in a pressure cooker. The cooker tends to clog up and this could be dangerous. Steel cut oats are better and can be pressure-cooked.
For more details, read Foods For Daily Use.
COOKBOOKS AND INTERNET RECIPES
Note: The suggestions of how long to cook food in a pressure cooker are often inaccurate, in our view, and will overcook the food and it will be worthless! This includes recipes on sites 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.