Pressure cooker, Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker – What are the differences?

There are an abundance of small kitchen appliances out there. If one were to attempt to acquire them all, not only would you need a kitchen the size of a ballroom, you would find that many of them have overlapping purposes. For example, do you really need a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, and a slow cooker? You be the judge. Let us explore the differences, then make an informed decision.

Let’s begin with pressure cookers

The operation of pressure cookers is actually something of a mini-physics lesson. (Efficiency plus education. Beat that!) Water boils at 212 degrees. Never more. Never less. The steam generated by this boiling water is likewise 212 degrees. BUT if said steam is subjected to pressure, both the steam and the water increase in temperature. Thus the name, pressure cooker. Now it would seem that food cooked in this way would turn out an unappetizing soggy mess. Here comes the physics lesson. If pressure is even on all sides of any object, it will not alter said object/food item. Pressure is generated by tightly sealing the pot. Temperature of both water and steam uniformly rises, thereby cooking food astonishingly fast. And if that isn’t enough, hark this: because foods are cooked so quickly, fewer nutrients are lost, and food is uniformly tenderized. Pretty nifty, these little pressure cookers.

On to rice cookers

Water and rice are measured into the cooker, which is then covered. A heating element/sensor is triggered by turning the unit on. Unlike pressure cookers, however, the heat sensor is designed to deactivate at the boiling point, i.e. 212 degrees. If it did not, the temperature would exceed the boiling point and you would have a pot of burnt rice. Nice little gadget, if one has the counter/cabinet space to spare.

Last, but definitely not least, the slow cooker

As the name implies, this appliance cooks food slowly at a constant temperature. Put the food in with a little moisture of choice, seal the pot, go to work (or the beach), and come home to dinner. Because the moisture condenses within the sealed cooker, it continually bastes the food inside. Tougher cuts of meat are tenderized by the slow cooking process, so you can save a few bucks by buying less expensive meat. Also, a BIG plus in my opinion, a slow cooker needs no monitoring. You literally can forget all about it for the span of an entire day if you cook on the low setting. Even on the high setting, it takes minimally 4 to 5 hours for an average size roast. I use a slow cooker pretty often and I love it!

O.K. To summarize:

– We have the pressure cooker for those who need to speed.

– We have the rice cooker for the gadget-lover and/or frequent rice-consumer.

– And we have the slow cooker for the more farsighted among us.

Happy cooking!