Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Jan 8, 2012 11:31 AM

Do I need a pressure cooker?

Recently I've realized I eat 6-7 cans of beans per week (I'm vegetarian). I realize thsi is not really healthy, with the BPAs in can linings and the sodium in the beans. So I want to start cooking them from scratch more regularly.

Do I really need a pressure cooker for this? I dont' have a lot of time, which is why I end up using canned beans, but I also don't have a lot of storage space. Also ,what else would a vegetarian use a pressure cooker for?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Are you talking about fresh beans or dried beans? I don't have a pressure cooker. Fresh beans cook up fairly fast, so you may not gain much there. Dried beans, sure, but you will need to learn your way. You will need to learn when to stop without the ability to check the progress every 2 minutes.

    A pressure cooker is good for spending up any item requires long cooking duration. For example, I cook turnup green for at least 2 hours and often 3-4 hours in regular cooking vessels, so I can imagine an advantage there. On the other hand, I blanch my Chinese broccoli for 2 minute in regular cookware. I don't see any real advantage there.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      oh, I meant dried beans of course!!

      Hmm, ok, so you cannot check the progress? I have never used or even been around a pressure cooker, so I'm truly unfamiliar.

      1. re: IndyGirl

        Well, a good pressure cooker (a safe one) will not allow you to open the pressure cooker while it is pressurized. It is dangerous. So for you to check the progress, you will need to depressurized the cookware. You can imagine it is not very practical to depressurize and pressurize your cooker just to check the progress. You can, but it is not realistic.

        Skip to 3:40 min for this following video and you will know what I mean:

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Actually it is a UL requirement that they not be able to open until all pressure is removed. IndyGirl you can also use a PC to make all sorts of dishes that usually require an investment in time you don't have to give. A risotto only takes 7.5 mins. An artichoke about 3. Veggie stocks are quick and simple, Bread puddings are transformed into a heavenly cloud, cheese cakes are also doable. Check out Lorna Sass' cookbooks for PCs and her website, and is a good source.

          I recommend Fagor PCs. Kuhn Rikon are good too but are a bit more fiddly to use. I've only seen one in recent history that scared me to death. It was a PC for the microwave.

          1. re: Candy

            Wow, extremely helpful. Thank you!!

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                from the information I have received from my suppliers it is a UL requirement.

                1. re: Candy

                  What he means is that UL approval is not required by law in order to sell a product.

                  1. re: Candy

                    Thanks, Candy. So you reommend Kuhn Rikon? Any specific model? Thanks.

                    Yeah, I originally meant what GH1618 said, but it is not important. The important point I really want to tell IndyGirl (original poster) is that one cannot constantly check on the cooking progress with a pressure cooker -- let it be because it is unsafe to open a pressurized pot or because it is impossible to open a pressurized pot. The bottomline is the same.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                What sort of PC is made today that allows this? Older PCs did, although why anyone would do this is beyond me. Doing this might be a good way to get scalded, or worse. But a new PC should be totally safe. Actually the older PCs were safe as well, if used appropriately.

          2. If you want to cook your beans from dried, then a pressure cooker will help you out with this. I suggest you find Lorna Sass's cookbook, Pressure Perfect, either at a bookstore to peruse, or at the library to check out, and read her first chapter or two. She does an excellent job of explaining the different sorts of cookers, and she also explains how a cooker works.

            I think information like this is helpful, especially if you haven't done pressure cooking before.

            I use my cooker for dried beans and for making broths. You should be able to make a nice vegetable broth using the cooker.And I've just discovered how super it is to cook brown rice. But like any new tool, you should decide how you would use it first, buy it, and then use it enough to master it. So buying one is more than an investment of money, but also personal time. They aren't that hard to use though, especially the newer ones.

            Good luck!

            2 Replies
            1. re: sueatmo

              oh, the idea that cooking brown rice in it would be better is helpful. thank you!

              1. re: IndyGirl

                Also pressure cookers are excellent for making things like split pea soup....and they make quick work of lentils and barley. I was a veggie for many years and used mine more then-than I do now!

            2. A slow cooker works well for beans.

              7 Replies
              1. re: GH1618

                Yes but a slow cooker, is, well, slow. I think the OP is needing a faster method of cooking beans, if I understand the question. And there is this, a well-cooked pot of beans in the PC is very, very good.

                1. re: sueatmo

                  A slow cooker is slow, but you can leave it unattended to do other things. I would never leave a pressure cooker on the stove unattended (if I had one). Slow cookers are a time saver for this reason. Which method produces the better result, I don't know.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    An electric pressure cooker can be left unattended! I love my Fagor 3-in-1. It's a pressure cooker/rice cooker/slow cooker, but I really only use it for the pressure cooker function. Put your stuff in, seal the lid, set the number of minutes you want to cook for and walk away. It beeps when the time is up.

                    1. re: GH1618

                      I walk away from my Fagor Elite 6 qt PC when set to a low simmer just to maintain pressure once reached. I don't go far but can be doing other things around the house while making stock.

                    2. re: sueatmo

                      Regarding slow cookers being slow, I will tell you about the man who was told not to bother to plant a nut tree because it would not bear for five years. He responded that the five years would pass anyway and if he did not plant the tree he would never have nuts from it. A slow cooker is slow but the time will pass anyway. All you need to do is start your beans before you go to work in the morning rather than after you come home. And you can check them as often as you wish, something you certain can't do with a pressure cooker. Also you can turn your back on a slow cooker: don't try that with a pressure cooker.

                      1. re: Querencia

                        I like my slow cooker, but I don't use it for beans. I got started making beans in a pressure cooker, and I've just not changed, because the PC works so well for them. You can check your beans in a PC. I often do. It only takes a few minutes to test the beans for doneness. If you need more cooking time, the cooker will heat right up again. I am sure that slow cooked beans are good. But so are pressure cooked beans. And so are beans cooked over a stove top burner, or baked in an oven.

                  2. Lorna Sass, all of whose pressure cooking books are worthwhile, wrote one specifically for vegetarians: Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure.

                    The beauty of many pressure cookers is that they're great pots even when not being used for pressure cooking. The Fagor Futuro set are 4-qt and 6-qt pots that nest for storage and share lids (pressure and non-pressure, that come with the set). I use the 4-qt for pasta, soups, and vegetables all the time. At least once a week, I use the PC for either beans, brown rice, or a non-vegetarian stock or stew.

                    1. We cook dried black beans in our Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker on a regular basis. About 22 minutes at 15psi. We also do chicken stock and a few soups as well. As others have pointed out, that's just scratching the surface, although I have tried making carnitas in it of late (Hispanic fried pork dish), with improving results - it's better the regular way, but I'm still working out the kinks, and it takes about 1/4 the time.

                      I think if you do cook beans on a regular basis, you'll get your moneys worth - canned beans really are a pale imitation, in my opinion. I'd have to be awful desperate to use them now that we have the pressure cooker.

                      I mentioned we have the Kuhn Rikon, they're very nice pots, but definitely expensive. They really don't do anything different than the more reasonably priced Fagor pots.

                      Hope that helps