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I cook beans quite frequently, and typically soak them overnight then cook them the next day. I don't find that particularly laborious, so I've always wondered why people use pressure cookers. Are there any other advantages besides the time they save?

  • Hi everybody, the OP asked about beans, they just didn't note it in the title. I put it in the title, since asking it about any possible use is on the broad side. Please consider this when posting answers. – rumtscho Oct 30 '18 at 11:22
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Besides what Layne mentioned :

If you're at extreme altitudes, you may not be able to get things hot enough to cook. A friend in Boulder, Colorado once mentioned that she can't cook beans without one. (I don't know if that's technically "too long to be practical" or "completely impossible", though)

Also, for pressure cookers that don't release steam as they're cooking, you prevent the aromatic compounds from leaving, resulting in more flavorful food.

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Wikipedia is your friend.

Pressure cooking requires much less water than conventional boiling, so food can be ready sooner. Less energy is required than that of boiling, steaming, or oven cooking.

...

Because of this, vitamins and minerals are not leached (dissolved) away by water, as they would be if food were boiled in large amounts of water. Due to the shorter cooking time, vitamins are preserved relatively well during pressure cooking.

SOURCES:

[1] [2] [3] [4]

...

Not only is this steam energy transmitted quickly to food, it is also transmitted rapidly to any micro-organisms that are present, easily killing even the deadliest types that are able to survive at the boiling point. Because of this enhanced germ killing ability, a pressure cooker can be used as an effective sterilizer for jam pots, glass baby bottles, or for water while camping.

Sources:

[1] [2] [3]

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    This is a typical example of the problematic quality of Wikipedia content. The second paragraph promises that there is better nutrient retention, but it has only one source. That source checked only two vitamins, no minerals, (vit. C and provit. A) in two foods (spinach and amaranth), and found that these two vitamins are preserved better after 10 minutes in the pressure cooker than after 30 minutes in the pan, but worse than after 10 minutes of "blanching". First, who cooks spinach for 30 minutes in a pan? Second, the generalization from two foods and two vitamins to a sweeping... – rumtscho Oct 30 '18 at 11:28
  • ... "are not leached" (seriously, leached?) has no reason to be correct. Then there is the third paragraph, which again makes little sense. Home canning authorities consider jam pot sterilization superfluous, discussing it leads to confusion and either extra work (sterilizing before a proper canning process) or to dangerous practices like hot-packing without processing, or processing in a pressure cooker. Taking a pressure cooker to a camp site seems cumbersome and difficult, maybe even dangerous if you try to use it on open fire. And somehow it leaves... – rumtscho Oct 30 '18 at 11:32
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    ... the impression that pressure cooking is better suited for sterilizing baby bottles and untreated water than simple boiling, which is not the case, both are equally effective and doing it without the pressure is frequently easier. – rumtscho Oct 30 '18 at 11:33
  • @rumtscho You can do independent research. These are not the only two vitamins that have been studied, and some of the studies linked are on entire classes of nutrients and anti-nutrients. They tested blanching for 5, 10, and 15 minutes, not just 10. Nowhere does it mention how long the spinach was cooking the pan for, so I have no idea where you got 30 minutes as the full article text is not available online. It has been cited nearly 100 times by other scientists. – Layne Bernardo Nov 1 '18 at 2:37
  • Pre-sterilizing jam jars is only unnecessary if your product will be processed for at least 10 minutes, and at a specified altitude. An example given by the NCHP of an item which is recommended to be jarred in pre-sterilized jars is... wait for it.. most jams. Maybe you're thinking of electric pressure cookers, but stovetop pressure cookers are no more difficult to transport than a normal lidded pot and are perfectly safe on a campfire. Spores which may not be killed by boiling are not relevant when using bottles immediately, but can be an issue if you pre-sterilize bottles and store them. – Layne Bernardo Nov 1 '18 at 2:41

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