Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pressure Cooking and Responsible Consumerism

I am going to post a review on a Pressure Cooker that i purchased, and why I chose it over other options.  But first....why I think it belongs on this blog.  After all this a blog about reduction right!  not purchasing?!

Just a few days ago I posted that I realized that i was yo-yo decluttering.  If you purchase as much as or more than you reduce you will never get ahead.  Yet I am saying that during this revelation, I have gone out and made yet another purchase.  Here is my rationale.  The pressure cooker should: reduce the amount of time i spend prepping, cooking and cleaning, additionally it will reduce the amount of electricity I am using.  Ideally I would also get rid of some other pots/pans to offset this coming into my home.

For now I am not ready to let go of any other pots.  However, I have gone through some of my kitchen cabinets-as i needed space to store my 2 new pressure cooker pans. And gotten rid of many items, that more than offset these incoming items

My new intention is to post not only outgoing items on this blog, but also incoming.  I hope that this may help others make informed, well-thought out decisions about the things they choose to surround themselves with.  And hopefully I too will get some helpful feedback.

I bought a Fagor Pressure cooker. I have been using it for 2 weeks now and LOVE it.  It is the best value as reviewed by Americas Test Kitchen.  I bought mine at a local mom and pop kitchen store on Sale!  Go the ATK link to see their review- there is a "better one", but cost is 3.5 times higher!!! And not all PC pots are created equal. They also have reviewed the electric pressure cookers and I think that is worth a read, I won't rehash the whole review, but will touch on the points that were important to me and making my decision.  And they are not too excited about the electric models at all.


  • Save time prepping- for instance I put a whole butternut squash in without any cutting and in 20 minutes (5 to get to pressure 8 to cook and 10 to release pressure) I was simply scooping out the butternut--leave it to cool so you do not burn your fingers, but if you let it completely cool it is a little harder to separate the 'meat' from the skin.
  • Save time cooking- you do have to wait for pressure 5-7 min. with 8qt. but then cooking time is less, a lot of times drastically so. (if you are just steaming vegetable-its only slightly faster-and usually I do that in regular pot while other items are in the crockpot--but if nothing else is cooking I would still use the PC). To be fair you also have to wait for it to release pressure depending on the recipe.  Don't plan 8 min. cooking time for baked beans-like I did when I saw the 8 Minute BBQ Bean Recipe in Americas Test Kitchen PC book.  you really need 5-7 to get up to pressure and then 8 to cook, and then 15 min for pressure release (and soak beans overnight)-then they have it simmer for 15 min.  more for flavor.  Still that is a total of 30 min. of electricity, done in 45 min.!!  compared to 4 hours it would take me in the bean pot in the oven, or 8 in the slow cooker!!!
  • Saves Cleaning- Most recipes, ones that don't require simmering after cooking, are easy peasy clean up.  The Steam has kept the food from sticking on the sides!  Just takes a minute if you clean it right away.
  • Saves Energy-things do not need as much time with your burner on! Also your burner is at high ovly for the first 5-7 min.  once it is up to pressure I can turn it to low heat for the cook time.  This also means less heat in your home on hot days=more energy savings!  I intend to use mine outdoors on a burner or the induction plate during the summer and while camping--so i can carry/pay for less fuel (of course to bulky for backpacking ;) Easy cleanup is also key while camping, where water has to be hauled, heated and conserved. 
  • Induction Ready-not only is the bottom a nice heavy weight for even heat distribution, but it can be used on an induction plate.  I just happen to have been given a programmable induction plate.  This will allow me to program a times and temperatures (while FURTHER reducing energy use!) so that it will turn off/down/warm automatically should I be worried that i will forget it.  So far everything cooks so fast i just put the timer on, but come summer when this is outdoors and I am playing with the kids or hanging laundry this will come in handy I hope.
  • Safety- this pressure cooker has multiple safety features to make it fool-proof (not that my mom, gram or great gram ever had any issue with their old school version that my mom still uses- but accidents could happen if you forgot the rules with those)  this one has 3 pressure relief mechanisms-the third of which is that the replaceable rubber gasket will let go if the other pressure releases were to get jammed somehow.
Now, why I chose NOT to go with an electric model:

  • Smaller capacity- if you are cooking for a family an 8qt is ideal. Because you have to leave space for steam the 6 Qt electric models do not actually give the cooking capacity it looks like they give. I did not know that you can not fill it, luckily I bought an 8qt :)  also, a lot of recipes are written for the 8 and have to be modified for the 6--just be aware.
  • Non-stick Liners- I will have to do a post on non-stick later-but there are plenty out there that address health concerns.  Here is something that you should be aware of even if you are ok with possible health risks (note here that i do own some non-stick i.e. camping pots because quick wipe out clean in combination with light weight and a screaming deal, and infrequent use ) MANUFACTURES -even high-end, WILL TELL YOU NON-STICK NEEDS TO BE REPLACED ABOUT EVERY 5 YEARS-SOONER IF SCRATCHED OR BURNED!  THAT MEANS THOSE POTS/PANS/WHOLE UNITS ALL END UP IN OUR LANDFILLS AFTER ONLY 5 YEARS!!!!!!  I know, some people keep them longer...but my experience has been that they stick way MORE than stainless or cast iron after only a few years, and that means frustration cooking.  I just don't like throwing my money away if there is a better option. Supposedly some companies might offer SS inserts as an additional purchase-check availability before you invest.  The Instant Pot comes with SS insert.  
  • Safety- well leaving any heating element on unattended poses a risk, as stated by a friend who was a firefighter.  Even so I have been known to use the crock pot--but not so much now.  Honestly, I have been using it stove top, because it is easy enough to set a timer...and nothing needs to cook long enough to need to leave it on while I am away/sleeping.  
  • Storage restraints-not a lot of counter space.  I am able to hang the Fagor out of the way in between uses. I would need a big shelf or counter space for the electric model. I will hang from the small loop handle-opposite the main handle with the pressure controls.

Also, check out the review on Happy Herbivore.  I am not sure which stove top model she bought, but do think about safety and get one, be it electric or stove top, that has multiple pressure relief mechanisms-don't let it deter you from the stove top model.  And watch some Youtube videos to see them in action!

Notice in Lindsay's picture, the upper edge of the pan is already losing its non-stick, ask any manufacturer, and they should tell you that as soon as the coating is compromised it should be replaced for food safety. Which of course is ridiculous, because that is going to get scratched right away.

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