SS Pressure cooker or CI Bean Pot?
As I contemplate big soups and single pot dinners I am beginning to think that I can save time and reduce weight by moving away from cast iron to a stainless steel pressure cooker.
Has anyone else come to this conclusion? Any dissenters and experience pro or con?
I have both. I use both. I love both.
If space constraints were an issue and I had to choose, I would hold on to my 6 qt stainless PC. Why? Just because it can be a PC, mini-stockpot & jumbo sauce pan & is non-reactive. (Of course enameled CI is also non-reactive...)
But is it an "either/or" proposition for you?
A pressure cooker is the single best thing you can own other than a knife. Being able to heat water past 100C and have it stay liquid is a game changer in so many ways. It really opens up a lot of doors for sauces, stocks, braises, soups, beans, grains etc.
Get a Kuhn Rikon unvented one, if you can't afford that, buy a cheaper stovetop model, not an electric one.
Get the biggest one you can afford
IMO they are different beasts
I have long used and loved my Cast Iron dutch ovens for low-slow braises
I recently acquired a SS PC and find it immensely useful for quick cooking beans etc but cant see replacing my DOs with it
IMO there is something to flavors/textures developing slowly and the ability to see/taste your food as it cooks and reduces that cannot be replicated with a PC - I have been very happy making "baked beans" in there but would not imagine a coq au vin (although it is done)
It's an immediate "either/or" because I'm not made of money. :)
I've bought an Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker because I want to automate some of my cooking. So far I'm happy, but there is a lot of advertising hype and I'm not sure a cheaper option wouldn't have done the same.
I listened to the reviews and the number of recipes and I figured it was a good place to start. We'll see how long it lasts. Next time, I'll probably buy simpler and cheaper.
I see. Well, all in all, a stainless steel pot (pressure cooker or not) will be a bit more versatile. Stainless steel surface pots can endure very acidic liquid which cast iron pots do not do as well. The stainless steel pots do not require the seasoning process and do not give off metallic taste. They can also go into automatic dishwasher which cast iron cookware cannot. Finally, the stainless steel pressure cooker can do pressure cooking.
The cast iron pots are not as versatile, but they are often cheaper and if you want to sear your meat before adding water to make your stew, then the cast iron pots are a bit better at that.
In some cases, a cast iron pot is better, but if you don't have a strong opinion to begin with, then the stainless steel is a safer choice.
If space/mobility is important, a stainless pressure cooker is much more versatile if you're going to have only one cooking pot that takes up most of a square foot on your shelves. It's easier to double as a soup/boil pot, lighter and less vulnerable to chipping while washing and storing. A p.c. also significantly cuts down the time (and energy $) it takes to produce stock, cooked beans, long-cooking grains like wheat berries, and braises and stews.
A good 5- to 8-quart stainless pressure cooker with a thick aluminum-dish base will cost $50-150 (or more if you go deluxe with Kuhn-Rikon), and I think new is the way to go with a pressure cooker. Unless someone is giving you theirs -- ideal! you know it works and the price is right.
If thrift is the driving force, go with enameled cast iron. Good-quality used ones are a 'green' option as well as low cost; I see pristine or nearly so Copco 4-qt Dutch ovens (D3) all the time on the online sites for $30-$60. Because you use these for low and slow cooking (oven as well as stovetop), you'll spend significantly more on energy to cook in one of these over its lifetime than in the pressure cooker. However, in most U.S. locations, that won't amount to the difference in price between the two choices. And enameled cast iron pots have their own versatility: oven as well as stovetop use, and often attractive as serving dishes.
Many cooks have both, and my bet is that whichever one you start with, you'll end up with the other too eventually.