Induction Plus Pressure Cooker = Help Me With the Math

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Testing eight pressure cookers for an issue of Fine Cooking magazine (on newstands now) was a transformative experience.

Before the article, the pressure cooker made occasional appearances for corned beef or chicken stew. Now I use it several times a week to steam whole fish, make cheesecake, stew apples for applesauce, cook whole spaghetti squash, make Indian dal, cook brown rice in 15 minutes and risotto in 8 minutes, no stirring. A pressure cooker reduces cooking time by about 70 percent less time, which means that a tough beef brisket is ready in about 1 hour.

Therefore, I can screech into the driveway at 5:30, prep ingredients and serve risotto by 6:15 or pot roast by 7.

Up next on my (very long) kitchen learning agenda induction cookers, which use copper-wrapped metal and a ferromagnetic cooking pan (steel or cast iron) to create heat through induction rather than conduction. It's much more efficient, directing 90 percent of the energy to the pot, rather than the usual 50 percent of an open burner. Now I have the idea to combine technologies.

Here's the question: if I were to use a pressure cooker (70 percent reduction in energy usage) with an induction burner (90 percent efficient), how much more efficient would that be than, say, boiling potatoes over an electric element? 120 percent? 160 percent? It gives me flashbacks to high school math.

Sure, it's an exercise in green logic, but thinking about it makes my brain hurt a little.

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