Chances are you have either a pressure cooker or a slow cooker in your kitchen. Both appliances are great for convenient, hands-off preparation of meals. We can stew tough beef cuts or cook beans fully in either one of them and end up with the same results.
We must note, however, that these two have significant functional differences. Pressure cookers are designed to cook food in minutes, while slow cookers are just that—slow. Let’s take a look at how they work so we know which one is best for which situations.
As the name suggests, these use pressure and steam heat to prepare food faster than the ordinary methods. Pressure cookers are categorized into two types: stovetop pressure cookers and electric pressure cookers. Both of these have advantages and limitations but generally, provide similar cooking results.
How pressure cookers work and what they can cook
Generally, pressure cookers can be simpler to use once we learn how they operate them. So let’s find out how they function.
Both the cooking liquid and food are sealed in a pot, and as the liquid begins to boil, it produces steam that generates pressure in the pot. It’s this steam pressure and high temperature that cooks the food two to three times faster than the normal rate.
You can quickly cook almost anything in a pressure cooker. An egg, for example, boils within minutes. If you want to cook some dried beans, meat, rice, vegetable or fish, a pressure cooker will considerably reduce the cook times.
The main limitation of pressure cookers
You must be an expert cook to prepare good meals with this cooker since you can’t remove the lid during the cooking process.
These can cook food over longer periods, usually between 4 to 10 hours, using low heat. Just like pressure cookers, they are easy to use and also offer us the convenience of setting and forgetting.
How a slow cooker works and what it can cook
The ingredients are mixed inside the cooker and covered with a lid. Either a high heat or low heat setting is then made. Some recipes may, however, require occasional stirring for best results. You can set an alarm to notify you when the food is cooked.
A variety of foods such as stew, soups, meat, vegetables, fish and bread can be made in a slow cooker. Slow cookers are best suited to those of us who don’t like to be actively involved in the kitchen.
Limitations of slow cookers
It is easy to completely forget that we are cooking due to the long hours involved, and the food could end up overcooked. The fact that a slow cooker takes hours to prepare food is also limiting if you’re always in a hurry.
Can we use them interchangeably?
Not really. The major difference between these two appliances is the cooking speed. Even though we might prepare the same food in both appliances, the cook time, food texture and liquid amounts may vary. For this reason, it would be nice to have both appliances.