More steaming in the pressure cooker: brown rice

After my success with steaming beans I wanted to try steaming brown rice. But before I get to that I’d like to mention that there are mixed opinions about soaking beans. The one advantage to soaking beans that everyone knows about is that it reduces your intestinal gas. Another advantage is that the beans cook more evenly when they’ve been soaked. The other advantage, which few people seem to know about (at least within the cooking community) is that soaking removes a lot of the phytic acid in beans; phytic acid inhibits your digestive system’s ability to absorb iron and other minerals. A potential disadvantage to soaking beans is that you may be rinsing away some of their nutrients; some claim that the nutrient loss is not significant, but until I see quantifiable research on that, I wouldn’t say. (And you can’t cook them in the water that they were soaked in because it contains the sugars that cause the intestinal gas.) If you haven’t heard about beans and phytic acid, do a web search for “soaking beans phytic acid.”

So, back to steaming brown rice. For my first attempt I soaked some brown rice for about 4 or 5 hours. Then I put it in a sieve in the pressure cooker. It was balanced on a glass and I put 2 cups of water in the pressure cooker. I cooked it for 20 minutes and then let the pressure go down naturally. The rice was definitely not properly cooked; it was still hard. In this situation soaking the rice is problematic; you can’t cook the rice in its soaking water so any nutrients lost in the soaking water are gone for good. Also, it’s an extra step and an extra thing to wash.

So next I tried steaming the rice which hadn’t been soaked. This time I steamed it in the pressure cooker for 25 minutes. Same as before; hard and inedible. So I tried steaming it again for another 7 minutes. Still hard and inedible, in fact I think was even harder than before.

At this point I came to the conclusion that although the pressure cooker is full of steam, and it’s under high pressure, that steam doesn’t get driven into the food by the pressure. If the food doesn’t have water in it to begin with then it’s not going to get significantly more from pressure cooking. It’s sort of like you’re baking it in a moist heat.

So my next experiment, which is in progress, is to first soak the brown rice, then cook it with the bain marie method where you cook it in a container that’s placed in the pressure cooker. At the moment the brown rice is soaking in a metal bowl. After it’s soaked for several hours I’ll put some aluminum foil over the bowl, crimp it around the edges, and cook it for the recommended time. I’m using 1 cup brown rice and 1.5 cups of water.


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