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From: BobK (c-67-174-125-230.client.comcast.net)
Subject: Re: Ok, let's talk about the Ohsawa Pot again
Date: April 6, 2004 at 4:23 am PST

In Reply to: Ok, let's talk about the Ohsawa Pot again posted by Razz on April 5, 2004 at 2:38 pm:

I have two of the Ohsawa pots, one I bought from Goldmine Natural Foods and the second,which had been used one time, at a yard sale for $1.00. (The people at the garage sale sold it because of the excess time to cook rice.) I use them all the time for cooking grains and beans. As for timing I think that the Ohsawa recommended time of 45 minutes to an hour is excessive. Lorna Sass recommends (for long grain brown rice) 20 minutes under high pressure with a 20 minute natural release for the Ohsawa pot, which she calls casserole rice, and without the pot 15 to 50 minutes at high pressure with a 10 minute natural release. She also says that for her she settled upon 25 minutes at high pressure without the inner pot. In my Tfal, with 13 pounds pressure, the rice was not completely done at 20 minutes and I started soaking the rice before cooking and now get excellent results with soaked rice. I also soak all whole grains for a time now. I experimented by soaking some brown rice grains and every 5 minutes biting some in half to see if they were soaked through and that is how I arrived at about a 20 minute to 30 minute soak. Brown rice does not get soaked completely through in this time but it seems to be enough to produce good cooked rice in 18 to 20 minutes at high pressure. I guess when cooking without soaking separately, soaking is an integral part of the extended time for rice or whole kernel grains. Because of the low volume of my Ohsawa pots I have not tried cooking something like a soup or stew in them. I am thinking of buying a larger pressure cooker so that I can put a larger pot in the cooker to do this.

The reasons to use an Ohsawa pot or a pot in pot or casserole as Lorna Sass calls it are (Guy has summarized them very well):
* Better control over the texture of the food.
* Grains and beans don't get as beat up as without a pot in pot.
* With a jiggle top cooker you don't have to worry about loss
of water from the food, water loss comes from the water bath.
In my mind all pressure cookers other than second generation
cookers such as Kuhn, Magefesa and Fissler are jiggle tops
because of the direct venting of steam and the fact that they
have that little hole through which, hopefully, only steam
passes.
* With jiggle top cookers the Ohsawa pot provides an added measure
of safety since the food is contained in the inner pot.
* You don't have to be so careful with timing since the food is
not in direct contact with the high heat source as it is when
cooking directly in the cooker pot. Because of this
you will not scorch food in an Ohsawa pot.

I suspect the reason that it takes somewhat longer to cook in an Ohsawa pot is that there is less turbulence in the pot than in the cooker itself and hence less mixing through bubbling in the pot. When food is directly in the cooker pot as the liquid boils and begins to boil steam bubbles will appear at the bottom of the pot and rise to the top of the food being cooked and provide a mechanical stirring of sorts in the food. There will also be convection currents in the cooker that I would think are more vigorous than in the inner pot in a pot in pot method. This also accounts for why the food is not as beaten up in an Ohsawa pot. The heating of the inner pot, when completely elevated out of the water, is uniform around the entire surface of the pot including the top, not just from the bottom and the convection currents within the inner pot will be less violent than in the cooker itself. I think that the bubbling action in the inner pot will also be reduced.

In her book: The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook, Beth Hensperger describes a rice cooker technology called induction cooking. In electic
rice cookers the heating is from a plate at the bottom of the cooker, but in an induction cooker at least the bottom and sides of the pot are heated by induction. I don't know about the top of the pot being heated. She says that this is the ultimate cooker because of the heating of the sides as well as the bottom and produces the best rice. These are extremely pricey, Amazon has a Zojirushi for about $270 and I have seen them advertised for as much as $1300 for large ones. They also require a large amount of power to operate. I have never encountered one of these or eaten rice cooked in one but I will take Beth's word for it.
Anyway I make the comparison that pressure cooking without an inner pot is like cooking with a regular electric rice cooker, the food is all heated from the bottom and somewhat from the sides. In a pot in pot method the food is heated from all sides uniformly, so I suppose that you could think of the pot in pot method as the poor person's induction cooker.

The makers of the Ohsawa pot say to put the pot directly into the pressure cooker and fill the pressure cooker with enough water so that the water reaches half way up the side of the inner pot. I used to do this, however the pot rattles a lot and I think that there is a lot of heating from the bottom of the pot that tends to beat up the grains somewhat. After reading some of Guy's posts I now elevate the pot out of the water by stacking two of those meat racks in the bottom of the cooker and adding water to the top of those stacked meat racks. I don't have room to put a trivet in the pressure cooker pot. The grains, including rice, seem to be less beat up and less sticky cooking them this way.

All of this is not meant to deny that good grains cannot be made without the inner pot. I make some salads from whole grain wheat and prefer to cook the wheat in the pressure cooker without the inner pot,
I seem to get a chewier texture that way. Barley seems to work a lot better in an inner pot, it gets all fluffy but remains chewy.

Why have two of the Ohsawa pots? Sometimes I will want to cook two different things for a dish and will want to cook them separately. For example yesterday I made a salad using pearled barley and brown rice. I rinsed the pearled barley till most of the surface starch was gone, I don't think that you can rinse barley until the rinse water remains clear, put it in the Ohsawa pot and cooked it and while that was cooking rinsed and soaked the brown rice and after 15 minutes at high pressure and a 10 minute natural release the barley was done and I cooked the brown rice for 18 minutes and a completely natural pressure release. So now I have both extra cooked brown rice and barley. I did this in the morning and finished the other ingredients in the afternoon and assembled the salad. The salad has an unusual texture and flavor since I replaced a third of the liquid for the barley with
a vegetable stock.

When I first started using a pressure cooker I bought a 4 quart Presto and used that. I had gone to a cooking class and they taught us to time the cooking of brown rice by going by smell. It will go through
two different smell changes as it cooks. With second generation cookers I don't think that you could detect the smell changes.

Anyway these are some of my experiences and thoughts on Ohsawa pots or the pot in pot method.

BobK






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