I’m often asked how I find time to cook. My answer has two parts. First, healthy delicious food is essential for my well-being, so cooking usually comes first on my to-do list. Also, I find nothing more relaxing, creative or satisfying than trying a new dish or savoring an old favorite. Second, I use a pressure cooker. The usual response I get is, “The ones that explode?” Not exactly.

Pressure cookers have come a long way since the days of noisy valves and an occasional explosion. Thanks to new technology, today’s pressure cookers automatically depressurize when overheated. A pressure cooker is essential for quick preparation of whole grains and beans. For example, brown rice takes one hour to cook conventionally. It also requires the use of a flame tamer or very low heat to avoid scorching. With a pressure cooker, it takes 35 minutes and won’t scorch if an Ohsawa pot is used. Black beans cook in two hours conventionally, but take only 25 minutes in a pressure cooker. Long bean soaking times can also be avoided with a pressure cooker.

There are other advantages to pressure cooking. Foods retain their nutrient value because pressure cooking uses less water and the nearly airtight seal prevents nutrients from escaping. Pressure cooking tenderizes meat quickly so less expensive cuts can be used. Lower cooking times use less energy.

Select a stainless steel pressure cooker. Aluminum ones are available, but will leach harmful aluminum into the food. Look for a removable pressure regulator. A removable one is far easier to clean when it becomes clogged with food. The pressure cooker must generate at least 15 pounds of pressure to save time over conventional methods. A lid locking mechanism and pressure cooker and have a pressure release system will prevent explosions. The 5 liter size usually suits a family of 4. As when selecting any piece of cookware, pick it up by the handles and make sure it feels right in your hands.

My Magefesa pressure cooker is highly rated and has performed beautifully for 17 years (www.magefesausa.com) Kuhn Rikon’s Duromatic pressure cooker is also highly rated (www.kuhnrikon.com)

Perfect brown rice begins with the right rice. I like Ohsawa Rose medium grain or Southern Brown long grain rice. Both are available at Goldmine Natural Food (www.goldminenaturalfood.com) The Ohsawa pot is essential and also available at Goldmine Natural Food. The rice is cooked in this pot inside the pressure cooker. This makes scorching impossible. The recipe also calls for kombu, a seaweed that tenderizes the rice, making it easier to digest. Find it at your local natural foods store.

Perfect Pressure Cooked Brown Rice

1-1/2 cups brown rice

½ tsp salt

1 stick kombu


Wash the rice by placing it in a bowl and filling the bowl with water. Stir the rice around with your hand. Chaff will float to the top. Carefully pour off the water and the chaff. Do this twice more or until the water runs clear.

Place the rice in a one-quart Ohsawa pot. Add the salt and the kombu. Fill the pot to the top with water and secure the lid. Fill the pressure cooker with one inch of water. Place the Ohsawa pot inside. Secure the lid of the pressure cooker and bring it to 15 pounds pressure according to its instructions. Cook for 35 minutes, and then remove the pressure cooker from the burner. Allow it to depressurize on its own. Serves 4 to 6.

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