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For the bone-broth obsessed: Slow-cooker vs. Pressure-cooker?

by (1195)
Updated about 9 hours ago
Created January 17, 2013 at 8:29 PM

I currently have neither and just make it on the stove, but for every year my daily consumption of magical bone-broth is adding to my life, it is taking at least that much away from my husband's due to his anxiety that I will start a grease-fire with my 24-hour+ simmers and burn the house down. Plus the smell kills him and I have promised to do something about it.

In a recent question I asked about how long people simmer their broth and several people mentioned both slow-cookers and pressure-cookers. I like the idea of the stuff being contained and of not spending a ton on electricity (as it seems making it on the stove does), but I am conflicted about which way to go. On one hand, the speed of the pressure-cooker is very appealing, especially since it seems the odds of one blowing its top are quite small. On the other hand, I can't shake the feeling that the pressure-cooker is just not paleo...by which I mean, it is creating a very artificial situation that might be changing the nutritional status of the food, much like some people believe a microwave does. Does anyone know if there is a nutritional downside to cooking with a pressure cooker and beyond that, if you use either, which do you prefer and why.

Thank you...I just want to make the right decision before I part with more money.

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1187 · May 02, 2013 at 8:10 PM

Old slow cookers are WAY better than modern ones. Old ones for sure.

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25 · April 26, 2013 at 7:54 PM

I have a very old slow cooker - wedding gift 42 years ago and still going strong! The low setting barely simmers is - I leave my bone broth on that setting for a couple of days. But my sister's slow cooker, which is new, seems to be much hotter. So, I think an old slow cooker would do the trick

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3280 · January 20, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Towel over slow cooker? Don't make me call the fire marshal !

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225 · January 19, 2013 at 5:50 AM

a slow cooker has a very loose lid, which allows steam to escape. I dont have first hand broth experience with it, but I know my house smells like the food I am making when I use it.

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1195 · January 19, 2013 at 2:53 AM

A consensus is building...

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd
1195 · January 19, 2013 at 2:53 AM

THank you, I found that site through Nom Nom Paleo and it was very informative.

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1187 · January 18, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Yes, indeed. But for some reason the pressure cooker increases the maillard reaction against all probability, so Blumenthal et al prefer it for that reason, even tho it is going over the boil point. But with that said, I never pressure cook my veal stock because I need the subtlety, clarity, and delicate flavors, which aren't so needed for most chicken, pork and beef stock. Boiling kills clarity so if you are doing high end cooking with veal as a base, its best avoided. Otherwise, for the average home cook, pressure stock is fine.

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1614 · January 18, 2013 at 1:53 PM

I'm confused... you say a stock should never boil, but pressure cookers heat things up above boiling.

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1614 · January 18, 2013 at 1:52 PM

The slow cooker does a better job of containing the smell than on-the-stove does. I will throw a towel over my slow-cooker lid, and that seems to "seal in" some of the smell.

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1195 · January 18, 2013 at 11:10 AM

How big is yours? I do get beef knuckle bones that are pretty big, but I usually use just one with a bunch of marrow bones. The one I ordered is the 6 qt. size. I hope I don't need a sledge hammer...

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1195 · January 18, 2013 at 11:07 AM

I ended up hedging with a electric model that can be programmed to be both a pressure and a slow cooker so hopefully I will have it both ways!

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1195 · January 18, 2013 at 11:05 AM

THank you....that was a big thumbs up! I'm sold and can't wait for it to come in the mail. It is interesting that both the flavor and the gel are better. Sign me up!

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15400 · January 18, 2013 at 8:05 AM

I think the best way to test pressure cooking is not by the vitamins this method retains but by taste. I have never liked the taste of things cooked in a pressure cooker (my mom used it). As far as I know, our taste buds is the best way for our brain to determine what is best for us in terms of cooking.

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1195 · January 18, 2013 at 2:18 AM

Oh, I didn't realize that a slow cooker wouldn't also contain the smell.

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1195 · January 18, 2013 at 2:17 AM

Thank you for the link and recommendation.

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18635 · January 17, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Yeah, lol...he does seem to have the deluxe model. I just got a stovetop 4 quart deal. It did the job just great though! I have to beware how much water was actually evaporating though...

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1195 · January 17, 2013 at 10:07 PM

I just found this link from Nom Nom Paleo addressing some health concerns. http://www.foodrenegade.com/pressure-cooking-healthy/ I agree the method seems artificial, but she makes some good arguments and I am being swayed in that direction. At least the model I settled on (see above) can be used for both.

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1195 · January 17, 2013 at 10:01 PM

It has taken me all of an hour of cruising around online to get the model Stephen Guyenet has: Instant Pot pressure cooker with slow cooker option. I was pretty swayed by some stuff on Nom Nom Paleo as well as Guyenet's endorsement. And I have never had bones falling apart even after simmering 36 hours on the stovetop.

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11048 · January 17, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Why wouldn't they be?

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1195 · January 17, 2013 at 9:00 PM

So I just followed a link to Whole Health Source and it seems there is a genre of appliance that can be programmed to be both a slow-cooker and a pressure-cooker....so you don't have to decide! http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2012/06/pressure-cooker-for-21st-century.html

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1195 · January 17, 2013 at 8:34 PM

OK, so I somehow missed this whole (recent) thread: http://paleohacks.com/questions/170115/pressure-cookers-awesome#axzz2IBEe3Jpm If you responded there, I have read your answers and comments. My apologies if this question is redundant.

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13 Answers

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4991 · January 18, 2013 at 9:33 AM

I've been making bone stocks in a slow cooker for YEARS - and it works well. 24 hours with enough water to cover, the juice of a lemon to leach minerals out of the bones, and a few bay leaves - to make the smell a lot better!

But about 3 months ago I dug out my pressure cooker and used it to make stock out of chicken bones. 40 minutes instead of 24 hours, and the stock was AWESOME. The gel set was incredible; far firmer than I have EVER got with the slow cooker, and the flavour was AMAZING. Again, far better than I have ever had from the slow cooker. And no need to use lemon juice - the extra heat makes the bones soften well so I am sure all of the minerals are in the broth.

I have now been using it for all of my stocks except one, and it performs really well. The only stock I now make in the slow cooker is when my (organic) butcher gives me BIG beef bones which won't fit in the pressure cooker. Yes, I could find a way to smash them up (a nice stone axe would be very primal!) but I don't.

Otherwise, pork knuckle stock, chicken carcass stock, lamb bone stock, chicken foot stock - they are the best I have made in 40 years of cooking.

I want a BIGGER pressure cooker!!

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1195 · January 18, 2013 at 11:05 AM

THank you....that was a big thumbs up! I'm sold and can't wait for it to come in the mail. It is interesting that both the flavor and the gel are better. Sign me up!

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd
1195 · January 18, 2013 at 11:10 AM

How big is yours? I do get beef knuckle bones that are pretty big, but I usually use just one with a bunch of marrow bones. The one I ordered is the 6 qt. size. I hope I don't need a sledge hammer...

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1187 · January 18, 2013 at 1:06 AM

I have some classical french training and I would NEVER EVER use a slow cooker. A good stock should never boil, keep it at a very low simmer. It should take hours. My veal stock can easily take 24 hours. A slow cooker is simply too hot, even on its lowest setting.

Now the Modernist Cuisine people love the pressure cooker for stock. Even the amazing Heston Blumenthal supports the use. I now use the pressure cooker for chicken, beef and pork stocks. I still use the over night, very slow method for veal.

More from the Modernist Cuisine people: http://modernistcuisine.com/2012/10/the-amazing-pressure-cooker/

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1614 · January 18, 2013 at 1:53 PM

I'm confused... you say a stock should never boil, but pressure cookers heat things up above boiling.

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1195 · January 18, 2013 at 2:17 AM

Thank you for the link and recommendation.

19ff515e8ec02d95e8f2cf68c3ec1373
1187 · January 18, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Yes, indeed. But for some reason the pressure cooker increases the maillard reaction against all probability, so Blumenthal et al prefer it for that reason, even tho it is going over the boil point. But with that said, I never pressure cook my veal stock because I need the subtlety, clarity, and delicate flavors, which aren't so needed for most chicken, pork and beef stock. Boiling kills clarity so if you are doing high end cooking with veal as a base, its best avoided. Otherwise, for the average home cook, pressure stock is fine.

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25 · April 26, 2013 at 7:54 PM

I have a very old slow cooker - wedding gift 42 years ago and still going strong! The low setting barely simmers is - I leave my bone broth on that setting for a couple of days. But my sister's slow cooker, which is new, seems to be much hotter. So, I think an old slow cooker would do the trick

19ff515e8ec02d95e8f2cf68c3ec1373
1187 · May 02, 2013 at 8:10 PM

Old slow cookers are WAY better than modern ones. Old ones for sure.

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18635 · January 17, 2013 at 9:40 PM

I used my pressure cooker this week to make it. Came out quite gelatinous and the bones were falling apart (good indicator all the goodies are in the broth IMO). All that in under two hours. I think I'm a fan so put me down for the PC.

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18635 · January 17, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Yeah, lol...he does seem to have the deluxe model. I just got a stovetop 4 quart deal. It did the job just great though! I have to beware how much water was actually evaporating though...

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd
1195 · January 17, 2013 at 10:01 PM

It has taken me all of an hour of cruising around online to get the model Stephen Guyenet has: Instant Pot pressure cooker with slow cooker option. I was pretty swayed by some stuff on Nom Nom Paleo as well as Guyenet's endorsement. And I have never had bones falling apart even after simmering 36 hours on the stovetop.

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225 · January 18, 2013 at 1:04 AM

I think you would be best served with a pressure cooker, considering one of your concerns was your husbands adverse reaction to the smell, a slow cooker will not help that.

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1195 · January 18, 2013 at 2:18 AM

Oh, I didn't realize that a slow cooker wouldn't also contain the smell.

61848fb3934eb0f08abacf0b920bf81b
225 · January 19, 2013 at 5:50 AM

a slow cooker has a very loose lid, which allows steam to escape. I dont have first hand broth experience with it, but I know my house smells like the food I am making when I use it.

2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2
1614 · January 18, 2013 at 1:52 PM

The slow cooker does a better job of containing the smell than on-the-stove does. I will throw a towel over my slow-cooker lid, and that seems to "seal in" some of the smell.

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3280 · January 20, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Towel over slow cooker? Don't make me call the fire marshal !

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45 · January 18, 2013 at 2:43 PM

I have had a slow cooker for years, and a pressure cooker for a week. My first batch of chicken broth in the pressure cookers was WAY better than the slow cooker. I don't think I will ever bother with the slow cooker method again. I let the pressure go for about 40 minutes, and the smell was minimal.

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1195 · January 19, 2013 at 2:53 AM

A consensus is building...

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370 · January 18, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Hi, I think I responded to your earlier thread. I endorse the pressure cooker. And of course, if you get a pressure cooker you will be able to use it for a lot of other things as well. e.g. vegetables, braised meats, etc...

Re: nutrients, take a look at this site:
http://www.hippressurecooking.com/2012/09/pressure-cooker-nutrients.html

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1195 · January 19, 2013 at 2:53 AM

THank you, I found that site through Nom Nom Paleo and it was very informative.

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3043 · January 18, 2013 at 4:00 AM

I use a slow cooker, but it it totally about my being lazy than about flavor or "real stock."

I can throw bones and water into the slow cooker, and then ignore it for hours and never deal with it. With stovetop or pressure cooker methods, I have to be home and babysit it.

It does create a smell (my previous roommate hated the smell, so I had to do the broth in my bedroom, which was annoying.) If the smell is an issue, get a pressure cooker so it can be over and done with quickly.

Bonus? Slow cookers are amazing, and any sort of low and slow cooking is great in it. Pork shoulder, brisket, osso bucco, whatever meat, delicious with little work.

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1195 · January 18, 2013 at 11:07 AM

I ended up hedging with a electric model that can be programmed to be both a pressure and a slow cooker so hopefully I will have it both ways!

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15400 · January 17, 2013 at 9:06 PM

Definitely a slow cooker. I am not even sure pressure-cooker is healthy.

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15400 · January 18, 2013 at 8:05 AM

I think the best way to test pressure cooking is not by the vitamins this method retains but by taste. I have never liked the taste of things cooked in a pressure cooker (my mom used it). As far as I know, our taste buds is the best way for our brain to determine what is best for us in terms of cooking.

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11048 · January 17, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Why wouldn't they be?

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1195 · January 17, 2013 at 10:07 PM

I just found this link from Nom Nom Paleo addressing some health concerns. http://www.foodrenegade.com/pressure-cooking-healthy/ I agree the method seems artificial, but she makes some good arguments and I am being swayed in that direction. At least the model I settled on (see above) can be used for both.

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220 · January 17, 2013 at 8:54 PM

If you're going to buy a pressure cooker just for that I would go with a slower cooker. I made my first batch last week in my slow cooker and I'm addicted. I think ill throw a weekly batch in on Friday nights.

I want a pressure cooker and its great but I'm trying to save money right now so slower cooker it is.

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1195 · January 17, 2013 at 9:00 PM

So I just followed a link to Whole Health Source and it seems there is a genre of appliance that can be programmed to be both a slow-cooker and a pressure-cooker....so you don't have to decide! http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2012/06/pressure-cooker-for-21st-century.html

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0 · March 07, 2014 at 11:36 PM

Hi, I just posted a video on the subject of making stock in a pressure cooker which may be of interest: http://youtu.be/yN9rgrQpc5g

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0 · March 07, 2014 at 11:34 PM

Hi, I just posted a video on the subject of making stock in a pressure cooker which may be of interest: http://youtu.be/yN9rgrQpc5g

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0 · March 07, 2014 at 11:33 PM

Hi, I just posted this video today on this subject which might be of interest: http://youtu.be/yN9rgrQpc5g

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40 · June 01, 2013 at 9:30 PM

I use one or the other depending on my schedule and what i am cooking. A beef knuckle is geat in the pc. For a stewing hen, i might start two in the large slow cooker, ten remove the meat. Bones and skin, which is thick on a retired pastured egglayer, go in the pressure cooker for another round, with the strained broth. After an hour in there i get superrich concentrated stock.

I also love artichokes steamed in the pressure cooker. Even the biggest ones are done in under 20 mins, and turn uot sweeter, without being waterlogged from boiling. Whole beets, too.

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