Pages Navigation Menu

My take on the pressure cooker broth controversy.

Many of my blog posts contain affiliate links. Purchasing through an affiliate link allows me to keep blogging and sharing what I learn with you. It is a bit like leaving a tip for service and is very much appreciated.
 
Thank You! -PattyLA

Amazon Image


Fagor Splendid 10-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner

A short time after we started GAPS my husband came across a stainless steel pressure cooker while we were shopping at Costco. It is the one shown above. I had been talking about possibly getting a pressure cooker so he snapped it up and brought it home to me. As soon as I got it I began to look into how they worked and discovered that Dr. Campbell-McBride and Sally Fallon both said that they are not a good idea. That they damage foods and make them less nutritious. So I put it on a high shelf and only pulled it out when I had forgotten to thaw any meat for dinner and it was either pressure cooker or go hungry. This meant we used it a couple of times a year.

Recently, I had a very busy week and I realized at the start of it that I was completely out of broth! I keep a perpetual broth pot going for much of the winter but our winter had ended rather abruptly about a month before and we were having quite warm and even hot weather. A pot simmering on the back of the stove and heating up the kitchen was not sounding appealing to me.  Broth had become one more thing to remember to do and I forgot. It was 90+ the day that I realized we were completely out of broth and the idea of starting up another pot (and then dealing with it in my busy week) did not appeal to me at all, so I decided to make a pot of pressure cooker broth.

It doesn’t take very long (2-4 hours) to make broth in a pressure cooker. Also my 6 st pressure cooker doesn’t make very much. That sounded manageable and even if it wasn’t the best broth ever, it was better than no broth at all I reasoned. I did a quick Google search to find out how long to cook it for and any tips I could glean and discovered that there is a significant controversy about making broth in a pressure cooker among WAPF cooks with apparently little to no scientific evidence on either side of the argument. I felt better about the experiment I was about to embark on already. Then I made the broth.

My first batch of pressure cooker broth was chicken broth. This was made from pastured chicken bones from my freezer that I was saving from previously roasted chickens for just such an occasion. I also threw in some feet. I cooked it at high pressure for 2 hours. When it had cooled I opened it up and examined the bones. I could easily break them in two with my fingers. It usually takes about 48 hours of simmering on the stove to get them that brittle. I was impressed! I only got about 2 qts of broth from this batch but it looked very dark and rich. The next day I took it out of the fridge and it was as solid as a Jello jiggler! I figured one cup of this broth would be equal to 2 cups of more of the broth that I had been making in mineral content and gelatin content. I also noticed that the fat had a very mild smell and taste. Sometimes after a long cooking time the fat on the top of a pot of broth smells rancid and has an off taste.

I began to think that this experiment might evolve into a way of life but I needed to do more research before I switched over to pressure cooker broth completely. Like any lazy good researcher I turned to Google. What I have found is a lot of speculation and debate but no evidence. The arguments on both sides have merit but perhaps they simply balance each other out.

On the con side is the idea that the broth is being cooked at an unnaturally high temperature. The interior of a pressure cooker reaches approximately 260 degrees while under 15lbs of pressure like I had been cooking my broth. This is significantly higher than the boiling point (212) and while an oven may heat its air to 350 degrees the food in the oven is usually much cooler with a chicken being done when it reaches 160-180 degrees. This high temperature will destroy enzymes and may also damage proteins.

On the pro pressure cooker side is the argument that longer cooking times are also destructive to proteins and that enzymes are all killed in the making of broth at more normal temperatures as well. Plus there is the fact that is saves energy, reduces how hot my kitchen gets in the summer, takes far less time, and produces a superior product (as far as consistency and taste are concerned).

Neither side produced any evidence to support the idea that they were right and that pressure cookers are bad or not bad and so I am left to come to my own conclusions. One thing that I have observed with longer cooking broth times (necessary to extract the minerals from bones) is that those broths tend to be less firm and often are completely liquid. Also the fat on them often has an off or rancid taste. However this broth that I made in the pressure cooker had obviously extracted a significant amount of minerals from the bones (as evidenced by how fragile they became) and yet also had a strong gel and the fat had a pleasant flavor.

I am currently convinced that making broth in a high quality stainless steel pressure cooker is a healthy choice and the only drawback I can see is that my pressure cooker is too small to make much at one time. I am very open to evidence that consuming foods that have been processed in a pressure cooker is detrimental to health. I want to do what is best for me and my family but so far I can’t find any evidence that pressure cooked foods are less healthy than foods cooked in other manners.

So how about you? Do you make broth in a pressure cooker? What do you think of it? Do you have any proof that it is bad for consumption?

Updated: I now have the 10qt pressure cooker pictured above and am in heaven! I can make about 4 qts of broth each time I use it and am currently drinking delicious broth that is from bones that were just used to make broth for the 3rd time!  I can’t believe how much better tasting the broth is when I use a pressure cooker to make it and I love how fast it is done! 

Don’t miss my new book.  Broth: Elixir of Life 

2broth-elixir-of-life-250


37 Comments

  1. I can only cook my chicken broth for a maximum of 3-4 hours to keep the flavor from changing unpleasantly (beef for only slightly longer). I know we’re not getting nearly the nutrients out of the bones, and I really need to extract more calcium. I’m going to try some today. If we can keep the light and wonderful flavor, I’m sold. I’ll probably do half of my batches in the pressure-cooker and half on the stove to maximize the nutrients. I love my pressure-cooker, but currently only use it for turkey thighs (our favorite way to eat them) since we went WAPF/GAPS. Thanks mama! You rock.

  2. Seems like there are a lot of catch-22s when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. It’s great that we have so much information at our fingertips, but it still has to be filtered. Thank you for adding your 2-cents into this topic.

  3. Ahhhh yes. The dreaded pressure cooker controversy. I have one that I use for beans. Being a mile above sea level here in CO, cooking beans is impossible without one. I kid you not, one time, I cooked beans for a total of 24 hours and they were still hard. I had even soaked them for 24 hours prior. So, a pressure cooker is a necessity where I live if you’re going to cook dried beans. I’ve never made anything else in mine other than that, but I agree with you that they can be used safely and efficiently in the kitchen. My mom uses one a lot — she’s around 10,000 feet, so much higher than me. I know Sally Fallon tells people to stay away from them, but she really isn’t the be all, end all when it comes to food. Even though many people would like to think so. [Gasp!] Did I really just say that? :) Great post!

    • at 6000 feet, water boils at 93 C.

  4. I have been using one for a few years, and I went onto a gaps diet about two years ago, but I must have missed the bit about not using a pressure cooker in the book. So I have been happily making my broths and soups in it. I too would like to know more about it, as I am very amine sensitive, and after breaking my diet over christmas, I have gone back on the intro diet with heaps of broth, so I would like to know exactly what is happening to those amino acids. I know that as proteins age they denature. I am particulary sensitive to tyramine, which occurs when tyrosine denatures. This process is increased by both time and heat, thus aged meat is not good for me. So which is better – cooking much longer on a lower heat, or cooking quickly on a higher heat?

    If I cook it in the pressure cooker and then freeze the broth – I don’t react. So it seems to be working for me. I also get to chomp on the bones, as they are so soft that I can blend them up easily into a paste or just crumble bits in my soup. I found this out when I first accidentally ate a bone and then looked down to see what it was that gave that weird texture to my soup. Beef knuckles are awesome – can really get the gelatine off. My broth sets solid, so you can cut it.

    Thanks so much for the effort you put into this blog, as it really gives me something to look forward to as I am going to give my kids as much gaps food as possible when they are with me, but alas they will get all sorts of junk when they go to their fathers. So yummy food treats help me not look like a meany.
    :-)
    Sarah

    • Sarah,
      So do you find that you tolerate pressure cooker broth better than long cooked broth? That is very interesting!

      Patty

  5. It appears that pressure cooking deactivates plant lectins better than regular cooking. Please see the link below (google books) for an excerpt from Staffan Lindberg’s excellent _Food and Western Disease: Health and Nutrition from an Evolutionary Perspective_ regarding lectins and pressure cooking:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=Qd5PUlEPNMAC&pg=PA53&lpg=PA53&dq=pressure+cooker+lectins&source=bl&ots=DoIKdrxypn&sig=M9ie8SymV8U6NQiszLoPUyLBDws&hl=en&sa=X&ei=pZ6iT_XzIKKC2AXUxZiKCQ&ved=0CEwQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=pressure%20cooker%20lectins&f=false

    It’s quite likely that pressure cooked food has fewer plant toxins and as Sarah (above) finds, less tyramine than food that would be found in food that would otherwise be subjected to a long cooking time.

    • That book is fascinating! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Staffan Lindberg is brilliant. We would all do well to read his work.

    And Sarah, I agree with you. Sally Fallon is someone to whom we all owe a huge debt of gratitude. However, she, like the rest of us, does not have all the answers.

    We must continue to remain open to new information. While absolutely certainty is very comforting, the only thing we can be absolutely certain about is that there will always be new information that can enrich and inform our perspective and choices.

  7. Very nice read! When I came to NT and WAPF, I had just bought a $280 Fissler Pressure cooker. I’ve been thinking about selling it, because I am afraid to use it. I am going to try broth again, one of my favorites was to make chicken soup with a whole chicken b/c the veggies stay so vibrant, I miss that vibrancy with the crock pot.
    Do you cook anything else with your pressure cooker? Is is mainly your “backup”?

    • At this point it is mostly my backup. I made broth just yesterday and once again was amazed by how firm the gel was of it once chilled. As the weather heats up I plan to use it more. My kitchen tends to be hot anyhow and cooking broth in there for 24 hours does not reduce the temp. Being able to cook on low for just 2 hours will be a big improvement.

    • If you cook meat/bones long enough to extract the gelatin and minerals, vegetables cooked simultaneously are not going to be vibrant, they will be mush.

      The trick is to add veggies to soup before serving, like a half hour or hour before, so they are not cooked to death.

      • JPatti, for most chicken stock, you do actually add mirepoix (usually, a blend of onion, carrot and celery, but sometimes also leek and mushrooms) when making stock. As you say, these vegetables will be tasteless and mush by the time the stock is finished cooking, and all their flavor will be in the stock, so they are discarded.

        If the stock will be made into soup, you’re perfectly correct, additional vegetables will be added towards the end of the cooking process.

  8. I have a big pressure cooker that I use for processing my broth, and a small pressure cooker that I use for processing small batches, and I cooked a roast in it once.

    It never occurs to me to cook other stuff in it. I have broth going in the crock pot right now, because I did a chicken in there on Monday, and I’m making chicken stew on Thursday. Keeping it going is easier than putting it away, taking it back out, blah blah blah… (it was supposed to be “chicken week” this week; crock pot chicken Monday, Chicken Enchalada Tuesday, Chicken taco Wednesday (kids), chicken stew Thursday… But the roaster came out so good on Monday that they only left me enough for stew. Four of us; a NINE POUND CHICKEN!!)

    Anyhow, I am inspired to learn how to cook under pressure (and not the “Oh crap it’s five o’clock, what are we going to have for supper” kind!

  9. I love to cook with Pressure Cookers.Pressure cookers are by far not a new invention, but with improved technology they have become safer and easier to use than ever.

  10. http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101_basics_techniques/what_is_the_effect_of_pressure_cooking_on_nutr

    This is by no means the whole answer, but what I am gathering is that the losses are about the same. Apparently (based on what you said), though, gelatin holds up better under pressure conditions, which could possibly be representative of proteins in general?

    Then again, be wary of links
    http://www.rodale.com/cook-vegetables-retain-nutrients?page=0,5
    Microwaving is best? And I wonder what would have happened if they included the boiled water.

    • Summer, thanks for the links. In “Food and Cooking”, Harold McGee says that the combination of high pressure and high temperature produce a doubling or tripling of heat transfer into meat, as well as very efficient conversion of collagen into gelatin. I get far more gelatin from my pressure cooker stock than I ever get from simmered stock. ;D

  11. came to this site as i was musing about using my pressure cooker. thanks for writing. i’m thinking what i will do is use the pressure cooker for the bones, then once it’s done, add the veges that i want and then simply cook those w/o the pressure on till done. perhaps that might be a way to save some of the plant nutrients.

  12. FYI: The digital ‘InstaPot’ has a stainless steel pot and a setting for slow cooking.

  13. i have to say that after using my pressure cooker for a short time and then slow cooking the bones i have gotten a ton more “gel” from my broth. also i recently purchased an average/3 star rated electric combo pressure cooker/slow cooker and love being able to go from slow to pressure back to slow. it is the todd english hsn cooker. most complaints are correct re the timing issue..only allows up to 30 min…but since this one has the “green pan” insert and not the crappy teflon…which is what i have been waiting for…i’m ok w/it.

  14. I came across your site while looking into making my own sour cream and yogurt. Interesting. We have been getting more and more self sufficient over the last couple of years. Growing and canning our own food would not be possible without my pressure cooker. I have often wondered if the pressure cooker at some point would destroy some of the nutritional content of food, but doesn’t freezing also destroy some of the nutritional content? I also feel, processing my own food is a more healthy choice than purchasing at the store. Our next step is yogurt, sour cream and cheese. Thanks for your posts and information.

  15. How many bones did you use for one batch?

    • That depends on the size pot. I use as much as will fit and be under water when I fill the pressure cooker to the fill line.

  16. Hi all I have used pressure cooker for years to make stock etc, would never use anything else. I just throw everything I have in, cover with cold water, bring to pressure, turn to med heat and let it go for an hour or so,let it cool over night and skim the fat off. Freeze what i don’t need in the silver foil oanns with the lid from store, just wonerderful

  17. Hi Patty. When I began having some leakage problems w/ my 5 month old Fagor Duo, the vendor told me 2 hours was too long. I was flummoxed. Then I finally saw a crack in handle, + a couple more hairline cracks, all around the pressure mechanism. I wasn’t allowed to post them photos, had to send in the whole thing. I said from the outset that I’d read numerous complaints re cracked handles. They’ll refund/replace, but with another warning against long cooking. This makes no sense to me, and I’ve found no such warnings on the manual or website, nor in any google search I’ve done, including re other brands. I see you’re cooking for up to 4 hours. Do you have any wisdom on this issue? Thanks. ahmo

    • Hi Ahmo,
      I’m not sure what to say. My Fagor is new, just over a month old so I will be very disappointed if it has problems. If you are making pressure canned meats/broth you need to cook it for 90 minutes. My pan is supposed to work as a pressure canner so it should be fine with 2 hours for sure. I am cooking my red meat broth for 4 hours in the pc and am very happy with the results. No cracked handle at this point but I will keep my eye on it for sure. My older pc is a Magefesa 6.3qt pot and after about 2 years I had to replace the gasket but otherwise it has worked great including many 2-4 hour broth making sessions.

      • Patty, I think you’ve given me the info I need to respond to the vendor. Pressure canning times are 75-90 minutes, from the few lists I’ve scanned. That negates her horror/displeasure that I’ve been cooking 1.5-2 hours. I considered upgrading to a more expensive model, but even reviewers of Kuhn Rikon report breakage of the small plastic part. Maybe the whole plastic handle composition has changed. I have 30+ year old pots that have gotten regular use with no degradation. Otherwise, I really like the Fagor Duo’s 2 pots, use the small one for 2 minute cooking of my veggies. Thanks for your quick response and help. ahmo

    • When you were bringing it up to pressure, did the flames come out from under the pot? That could be directing too much direct heat to the handles and cracking them. Or if you have it on the back burner while the oven is going, does the oven heat hit the pot like that?

  18. I have been making pressure cooker bone broth for 6 years now. This was after conducting research on line and finding zilch on the topic, good or bad. In general, long cooking times with exposure to air should lead to free radical formation, oxidation IMO. hence the rancid smell form long simmered bone broth. It is my understanding that processed foods are exposed to much higher pressures than the 10-15 pounds of a home pressure cooker.

    Plus the fact, I can make 6 quarts of great broth in one evening (I have a restaurant sized stock pressure cooker). The ease of making stick ensures I actually make it…and isn’t that in the long run what is the end goal?

    • How large is your pressure cooker? And how long does it take to come to pressure when you have it filled for bone broth? I am trying to decide if I want the 8qt or the 10qt. We do lots of braising of chicken legs, pork shoulder, pot roast, and I want to make sure it is large enough for my 5 people but not so cavernous that it takes forever to come to pressure and defeats the purpose.

      • I have this pressure cooker
        The Kuhn Rikon 12L
        http://www.amazon.com/Kuhn-Rikon-12-Quart-Duromatic-Professional/dp/B00009A9XW

        here is a review
        http://www.hippressurecooking.com/pressure-cooker-review-kuhn-rikon-duromatic-excellent/

        Wow, It has about doubled in price since I got mine.

        Anyway, I have been very happy with it. Comes to pressure in about 20-30 minutes. Then I cook my stock for anywhere from 30-60 minutes more. I usually make stock in the evening and let it sit on the stove overnight to release pressure and cool naturally. Then the next morning I strain and put into mason jars to freeze or use. The leftover soft bones, meat scraps and mushy veggies I give to the backyard chickens and they LOVE it! We use everything but the cluck, moo or oink.

        I have had to replace the pressure valve assembly once, so would recommend if yo go this route, buy one to have on hand. I think go as big as you can afford, you coudl even cook an entire turkey in this one, but I’ve only done it once myself. Mostly use turkey necks and leftover bones from roasted meats I freeze and and once I have a pot’s worth I make stock.

  19. So, maybe this is a silly question. What about pressure canning after pressure cooking? Is it too much? I am running out of room in my fridge and freezer. First world problems, right?

  20. Why shouldn’t you pressure can your stock after you make it? I know plenty of people who do that to store the pressure cooked stock they create. (Refrigerator and freezer space is always at a premium.) You just have to make sure that you pressure can it in a PC than reaches 15 PSI, since that’s assumed in pressure canning instructions, and a lower pressure cooker pressure setting would potentially be problematic…

    • I think that would be fine. I keep meaning to do it myself but we eat up our broth so fast that I never have enough to try that with.

  21. Thanks for the feedback. I did it and it turned out gorgeous! Very dark and flavorful. Because we are on a tight budget for money and time, I buy all of my chickens at once, right after payday. Two go into the freezer for roasting. Two are stewed, meat shredded and frozen in 2 cup portions, and broth canned. The remaining six chickens are processed by cutting chicken into parts and making boneless skinless breasts. Legs and thighs are divided into two gallon freezer bags to be used for Baked, BBQ’d, grilled, or fried chicken. Wings, except tips are saved for pizza and wing night. Breasts are cut into strips or chunks for stifry and other dishes. The remaining carcass and wing tips go into the pressure cooker/canner to make MORE broth! Lol. THAT’S why I need to can so much. Most of this is done to help my 15 year old daughter. I am in poor health and not always able to get into the kitchen. This gives her options for lunches and dinner meals without too much stress. She is a great girl. I’m lucky to have her.

  22. Oh, what a great daughter to help mom out! ;D

    I also use the pressure cooker to blanch fresh vegetables that I keep in the freezer to be used for impromptu soups and stews. I blanch diced carrots and potatoes in a vegetable strainer held above a cup of water with 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar, the vinegar helps reinforce the cell walls of the root vegetables, helps keep them from falling apart – 1 minute at low pressure, quick release. For anything with chlorophyll, like green beans and peas, where I don’t want discoloration, I don’t blanch under pressure, but use the PC open, and just dunk the veggies under boiling water in the PC for a few seconds. I also keep diced meats, precooked and frozen beans, diced tomatoes, etc. in the freezer frozen in soup size quantities so I can just grab a couple of packages, dump everything in the PC with some broth, and have a meal in a matter of minutes.
    ePressureCooker recently posted…Comment on Cuisinart CPC-600 Electric Pressure Cooker Review by ePressureCookerMy Profile

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cuban-Inspired Oxtail Pressure Cooker Stew « The Liberated Kitchen, LLC - [...] Update: I should have said this at first, but Dr. Natasha does NOT recommend the use of pressure cookers …

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge
BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!