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Feb 26, 2010 06:36 PM

Pressure Cooker Soup Faster?

Would cabbage submerged in water in a pressure cooker cook any faster than simply boiling it stove-top?

I need to cook large quantities of cabbage to a very mushy consistency due to a particular digestion issue.

For my first attempt, I chopped the cabbage, covered with water, and boiled stove top for an hour. The consistency wash mushy, but that was the objective, so it was a success.

Trying to speed prep time, I tried using my pressure cooker. I took an entire head of cabbage, added 5 cups of water (only covered 1/8th the head of cabbage), brought to pressure, then cooked for 20 minutes. I check it, it was still too hard, so I cut in half, and cooked for another 20 minutes. If was kinda mushy, but still seemed to stringy, which would be a problem.

For my next attempt, I think I'll chop the head of cabbage in quarters, completely cover with water, and cook in the pressure cooker.

So, will the cabbage submerged in water in the pressure cooker cook faster than if submerged in water stove-top? (I guess I'm asking if the "pressure" penetrates the water??

Any thoughts would be very much appreciated.


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  1. Putting more water in your pressure won't make the food cook any faster, it's the temperature that cooks the cabbage, not the water. Water can never reach a temperature higher than 212 degrees at sea level in an open vessel. You should figure on using less water, not more, when cooking in a pressure cooker. The less water you can use to complete the cooking process the better; just don't let it go dry. In a pressure cooker, the water can reach higher temperatures without converting to steam because it is, as you might expect, under pressure. In the situation you describe, I'd reduce the amount of water and give it another go. Your cabbage should cook in the pressure cooker in about 1/3 the amount of time it would take in an open cooking vessel.
    The steam carried off from your open stove top vessel will carry away nutrients. Remember that a lot of vitamins, particularly vitamin B and C, are water soluble so the more water you use in preparing your cabbage the more vitamins you'll lose (unless you intend tro drink the liquid) iin the cooking process.

    3 Replies
    1. re: todao

      My friend is a foodie, and always raves about chowhound, and I must say, getting such an intelligent answer to my question in just 3 minutes is amazing!!! Thank you!!!!

      So, if I understand correctly, if water can get hotter than its natural boiling point of 212 degrees due to the pressure, can steam get hotter than it normally would due to the pressure as well?

      If that's true, it would make sense to reduce the water so the cabbage could be cooked with the super heated steam, as opposed to the super heated water (which, although hotter than 212 degrees, is bound to be less hot than super heated steam)

      The reason I was thinking of submerging the cabbage in water was a sense that perhaps it was the swelling (being submerged) that seemed to break down the stringy-ness when I boiled it stove top during my first trial.

      So, in summary, it sounds seems that if being covered in water is desirable (from a swelling and consistency perspective), then being covered in water in a pressure cooker is better because the water will be hotter than could be achieved at normal air pressure stove top and will cook faster).

      Very interesting,

      Thank you!


      1. re: mike2401

        Well, that's close Mike. But remember that it isn't the temperature of the "water" that does the cooking, it's the temperature of the overall environment. So the super heated water/steam in the pressure cooker will cook your food faster - how much faster depends on the temperature you're able to sustain within the range of temperatures that your pressure cooker can safely maintain. But MORE water is not what you want to use; you want to use LESS water; just enough to cook the food without evaporating all the water and exhausting it out the steam vent into the atmosphere. You want some water left in the cooker when the food is finished cooking but you don't want to submerge your food entirely in water to cook it.
        And remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe use of that pressure cooker. They can be dangerous and can injure the user if not handled correctly.

        1. re: todao

          Thanks again for helping me understand this. Ok: less water (but sufficient) is ideal for cooking meats, veggies, etc.

          However, let's say I'm making soup in a pressure cooker vs. stove top:

          Would soup in the pressure cooker cook faster? (based on your first response, I guess the answer is yes because the liquid gets hotter because it's under pressure.)


    2. I love my pressure cooker, but when you add in the time it takes to get up to steam..well, so far I'd say you're even. So faster, no. But once you cut the cabbage up, you should still be at around an hour and the consistency more to your liking, and as Todao says, healthier too.

      1. Another approach would be to freeze the chopped cabbage first. This explodes the call walls so that when you cook it, it disintegrates very quickly. You could freeze the whole head but then it would take forever to thaw or cook. ( I freeze leftover coleslaw, then thaw it and add it to my meat loaf mixture. It melds into the meat, adding an unidentifiable sweet tenderness.) You could cook the frozen chopped cabbage either in a pot or pressure cooker.

        5 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          Freezing: interesting. I may give that a shot.

          BTW, how much nutrition do you think is left in boiled cabbage (1 hour). The water is green - is that all the nutrition?


          1. re: mike2401

            General wisdom is that lengthy cooking destroys a significant amount of the nutritional value, although in some cases (e.g. tomatoes and carrots) a small to moderate amound of cooking improves bioavailability of some nutrients.

            1. re: greygarious

              Thanks. I've heard that too, but just not clear if they mean destroyed, or washed out into the veggie "waste water". If it just washes out into the water, then I could use it to cook rice, and get the nutrients back.

              Just a thought,

              1. re: mike2401

                Prolonged cooking of cruciferous vegetables leads to the sour, sulfurous smell that turns people off to cabbage and its cousins. You should taste the "waste water" before trying to cook with it. If it tastes okay, you've got nothing to lose in using it, even if there's not much nutrient value left after extended boiling. It might be better used in something more complicated than rice, to camouflage its "aroma". Soup or stew may be more appropriate. Or drink it straight, if you find it palatable.

                1. re: mike2401

                  Upon further reflection, I suspect vitamins are destroyed, but minerals are washed out into the waste water.