In recent times both the slow cooker (or crockpot) and pressure cooker have enjoyed a revival. The reasons are simple – they both save time, reduce mealtime hassles and can save money if used correctly.
However, it is interesting that these two appliances operate in totally opposite ways. One slowly, tenderly and gently cooks the food aaaalllllll day long, so when you return home in the evening, dinner is waiting to be dished out and enjoyed. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to have a big slow cooker, you might even have enough for leftovers for another night.
In contrast, the pressure cooker’s great advantage is speed. Once you’re home, throw in a casserole and its done in less than an hour – cooked to perfection and ready to be consumed.
The Tortoise or the Hare?
So which do you prefer the tortoise (slow cooker) or the hare (pressure cooker)?
I must state my claim here – i’m a slow cooker person. I remember stories of pressure cookers from years gone past blowing their lids off and causing untold damage, chaos and messiness in kitchens. I’m sorry, but I just can’t get that image out of my head. I know the modern versions have supposedly fixed that problem but for me (being klutzy and all) it is a recipe for disaster.
That is not to say I can’t see the great benefit of a pressure cooker. I think another way to look at it is are you are morning person or a night owl? If you are the former, the slow cooker is definitely your type of appliance. You can prepare dinner in the morning when you are up and getting on with the day, before heading out to work, school or other activities. Then you can kick back in the evenings when you get home, knowing dinner is taken care of.
Alternatively, if you are a night owl, coming home and preparing a meal to throw into a pressure cooker won’t be a drama. And the beauty is you can enjoy meals that normally take too long to cook on a weeknight such as casseroles, stews etc.
What is the Difference?
So what actually is the fundamental difference between a slow cooker and pressure cooker?
The slow cooker works on a low, slow gentle heat of about 80C. Food is brought up to temperature slowly and allowed to simmer gently for a long period of time – up to 10 hours.
A pressure cooker brings the temperature up to 120C quickly and with it the internal temperature of the food elevates quickly. Moisture inside the cooker builds the pressure and simulates the effects of long braising or simmering in a much shorter time. For example, a casserole can be cooked in under an hour.
Both have benefits in terms of economy (eg using cheaper cuts of meat), energy efficiency and of course in providing yummy meals.
In summary, either a slow cooker or pressure cooker is a great addition to any kitchen. It is likely that most people will have a preference for one over the other based on their lifestyle and preferred style of cooking.
I’m definitely a slow cooker. What about you? Please leave your comments and thoughts below.