But Ali, you might say, if this is a budget column, why are you asking me to buy a mid-range pricey new gadget to add to my kitchen? Because it’s bloody worth it!
If there is one device in my kitchen that I could become a living advertisement for, it’s my pressure cooker. Dried beans cooked to perfection in under 10 minutes! Dinner on the table in less than a half an hour including prep and pressure building time! Grains cooked to perfection in under 10 minutes! Stock in under 20!
It sounds like an ad, doesn’t it? But if I were to be fully honest with you, there have been times when dinner wouldn’t have made it onto the table if I didn’t have one. Being able to get it there fast can often be the difference between eating in and dining out, which is why a $50-70 investment can end up saving so much. Oh, and did I mention you can make soy milk in it too? Just throwing that out there.
Stock, beans and grains really are where the pressure cooker shines though. Dried beans cost a fraction of what canned ones do and ultimately end up being the cheapest source of protein in a vegan diet. Or any person’s diet for that matter. Stock under pressure ends up flavorful and perfect in under 20 minutes for most vegetables, and can mean the difference between boullion/canned stock and that bag of scrap veggies you’ve been saving all week actually getting used in tonight’s dinner. And who wants to sit around cooking barley for a half hour or more? Bring on the speed!
Plus, for those of you worried about nutrition, the speed-cooking method has been shown in some scientific studies to preserve a lot more nutrients.
The chart below is just for reference. Most pressure cookers will recommend 1 tbsp of oil in with the beans, and the amount you can cook at one time depends on the size of the cooker. The cooking times vary more with the age of the bean than the amount cooked, but you shouldn’t fill your cooker more than 1/2 full when you’re cooking beans.
Make sure you add at least 2-3 cups of water per cup of bean. If all of the liquid isn’t absorbed, the rest can be added to a stock to deepen the flavor! Chickpea broth in particular is my favorite. When made from soaked beans (the cooking liquid, NOT the soaking liquid!) it can add a fantastic chicken-y flavor to a light veggie stock with no clucking involved.
Bean Pressure Cooking Chart!
Approximate Minutes Under High Pressure
—— Soaked (Overnight or Quick Soaked) Unsoaked
Aduki 5—9 14—20
Anasazi 4—7 20—22
Black (turtle) 9—11 20—25
Black-eyed (cow) peas — 9—11
Cannellini 9—12 22—25
Chick-peas (garbanzos) 10—12 30—40
Christmas lima 8—10 16—18
Cranberry 9—12 30—35
Fava* 12—18 22—28
Flageolets 10—14 17—22
Great Northern 8—12 25—30
Lentils — 7—10
Lima (large)* 4-7 12—16
Lima (baby) 5—7 12—15
Peas (split, green) — 8—10
Peas (whole, green) — 16—18
Pigeon peas (gandules) 6—9 20—25
Pinto 4—6 22—25
Navy (pea) 6—8 16—25
Red kidney 10—12 20—25
Scarlet runner 12—14 17—20
Soybeans 9—12 28—35
Soybeans (black) 20—22 35—40