Which Is Best – A Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker Or An Aluminum Pressure Cooker?

by Garett Christianson | 3rd May 2011

Often newlyweds face the challenge of equipping their kitchen with the tools for making their home complete. Deciding on whether or not to even own a pressure cooker, and then whether or not to go with stainless steel or aluminum can be quite a daunting task. Is the stainless steel or aluminum pressure cooker the right choice? Though often of similar design, some basic differences exist between the two types of pots.

The history of the pressure cooker begins with the English scientist, Denis Papin. Papin created a cast iron device, with its own small furnace in the 1670’s that allowed him to cook food in a surprisingly short time. He impressed the Royal Society of England, a hallowed place for renowned inventors and thinkers of all sorts, by preparing a meal that included the jellied bones of many different animals. As the years have gone on, many improvements have been made and innovations that have made a much smaller, home version to be available. Despite the years and the changes, it’s still bought for the same reason: preparing a hearty meal in a short amount of time.

Once a person has decided on a pressure cooker, which is better: stainless steel or aluminum? The answer generally depends on your needs. Ultimately each cook must decide which tool better suits his or her cooking needs.

Stainless steel offers the consumer the assurance that comes from its basic properties. Stainless steel resists the damage from the elements that is common to metals, and thereby can be maintained for years to come. However, they generally depend on a copper layer, often embedded in the metal, to help distribute the heat evenly within the pot. This, added to the weight of the steel itself, makes stainless steel pots somewhat heavier than the aluminum versions. The steel also raises the cost above that of most aluminum cookers, although also extending the expected longevity.

Some cooks feel that the stainless steel pots are of a higher quality, others believe that the lower heat conductivity of the steel somehow influences the cooking. Most agree that the stainless aspect of this steel helps to keep food from sticking to the bottom. This and their supposed sturdiness seem to be sufficient for some to prefer the stainless steel pressure cooker.

Sauteing or browning foods before cooking in the same pot is an advantage that may be overlooked by those who use a stainless steel pressure cooker. As implied in its name, the stainless steel cooker will not be marred by the prepping of certain foods before sealing the cooker and cooking with steam. Nothing sticks to the pot, allowing the cook to avoid having to use another pan or pot for the sauteing or browning.

For a lighter cooker, aluminum pots may be the way to go. Unlike stainless steel cookers, aluminum pressure cookers do not need other layers or materials to help with their conductivity. Add to all this the relatively lower cost, some households may opt for this choice. It must be pointed out that the cost difference in pots of equal size and quality may sometimes be minimal.

For a large pressure cooker, the weight difference is much more noticeable. A cook moving a fully loaded pressure cooker may find the task daunting with a stainless steel version, while being able to more easily handle an aluminum model.

Whether they’re made of stainless steel or aluminum, pressure cookers all have been designed with safety in mind. In most models three stand-alone safety valves make up part of the mechanism that allows the cooker to use pressure safely. Added to many models is a device for not permitting a lid to be removed while the contents are under pressure. Keeping the pressure cooker clean and properly maintained is important in keeping it safe as well.

In the end, the choice lies in the hands of the cook. How, where, and what he or she is going to cook has to dictate the decisions he or she makes about the tools to be used. No matter what has changed through the years, for healthy, fast, and efficient cooking, an aluminum or stainless steel pressure cooker is still a valid option.

Lots of shoppers choose to buy a Presto pressure cooker since it’s a popular brand, but don’t limit yourself. The best aluminum or stainless steel pressure cooker is the one that meets your individual needs, so be sure to buy what you actually need and not just what’s on sale.

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