Pressure cooking is actually a very healthy cooking method. It retains more nutrients than any other cooking method except microwaving. That includes just boiling and steaming.
Firstly you need to be aware that all cooking can reduce the vitamins available in food. The method and cooking time affect this. Most affected are vitamins C, B1, B2 and B6. Vitamin C is reduced by heating which is why unprocessed fruits are so good for you.
Retention of Vitamins C, B1, B2 and B6 in Cooking
A report from Nestle Professional Nutrition magazine listed four cooking methods and ranked them in order of vitamin retention. Pressure cooking retained the most vitamins C, B1, B2 and B6 at 90 to 95%
Microwaving came out well retaining 75 to 95% of those vitamins and steaming, often quoted as the healthy option, third at 75 to 90%. Boiling actually showed as the worst culprit, retaining as little as 40 to 75% of the vitamins.
Vitamin C Retention in Pressure Cooking Broccoli Study
The most scholarly study was carried out in 2007 by the Journal of Food Science . They measured how much vitamin C was retained in broccoli using different cooking methods. The researchers pressure cooked broccoli (15 PSI – 121C) for two minutes (a bit long in my estimation) and found that 92% of the vitamin C was retained in comparison to 78% vitamin C retention for conventional steaming.
Now, just to confuse the issue, that doesn’t mean the broccoli on the plate retained the vitamins. They measured how much remained in the water as well. This goes to show that whether, boiling, steaming or pressure cooking you should always use the minimum amount of water and use the remaining water at the end in the meal if possible. Perhaps in a gravy or sauce.
Follow your pressure cooker’s instructions on how much water to use. Just like a saucepan it mustn’t be allowed to boil dry.
Healthy Eating Tip
Incidentally, if serving a vegetable in a sauce say broad beans in white sauce or cauliflower in a cheese sauce. Instead of boiling the vegetables try poaching them in milk which you use to make the sauce. This will help you retain the maximum amount of vitamins.
More Articles on Frugal Cookers
- Microwave Ovens Guide – Which Oven is Best for You?
- Pressure Cookers Guide – Which Pressure Cooker to Buy?
- Pressure Cooking Retains Nutrients & Vitamins Best
- What Fuel To Choose for Cooking in the Kitchen
- Cooking by Boiling & Steaming – Nutrients, Vitamins & Energy
- Slow Cooking – Crock Pot Cooking. Energy Use & Vitamins