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From: BobK (c-67-174-125-230.client.comcast.net)
Subject: Re: SS Waterless cookers and PCs
Date: April 26, 2004 at 4:55 pm PST

In Reply to: Re: SS Waterless cookers and PCs posted by Emily on April 26, 2004 at 12:31 pm:

Emily and Razz

I have a set of Lifetime cookware that I bought in 1980 or so. I must admit that I have never used it to its' full capability so my comments are somewhat biased. The notion of the waterless cookware, as I understand it, is that you heat the cookware with food in it to temperature and then turn off the heat and retained heat will cook the food. I bought the set from a salesman who did an inhome demo. I was impressed by the fact that you just rinse vegetables and put them into the pot with retained water. For example if you want to cook broccoli you just rinse the broccoli, don't shake off all the water, put the broccoli into the pot, heat it, up turn off the stove and the broccoli will cook in its' own steam. I was also impressed by the fact that the salesman cooked up some rice by putting water and rice in the pot heating to boiling putting the pot in the refrigerator and 20 minutes later had cooked rice (this will not work with brown rice). I did not buy it on the spot, but told him that I wanted to think about it because at the time it cost $800. Later when he called back I told him that I was looking at a Cuisinart set and he immediately had a barely used demo set for $400, so that gives you an idea of the profit in the home sales. After purchasing I rarely used it as intended. The reason is that the lid formed such a tight seal that I had to reheat the pot to get the lid off, a hassle. I would just as soon use an old fashioned steamer to cook the food. Salad Master, perhaps others - I just don't know, have a small valve in the cover that probably solves this problem.

The reason that this works is that there is a massive heat sink in the bottom of the pots and when you get all that mass up to temperature it takes a long time to cool off and that is why you can cook with "lower heat". When you look at the advertisements for this type of cookware they will all mention the number of layers in the pan, it is this thickness that gives the cookware the thermal mass to retain heat and continue cooking with the stove turned off. Because the cookware is stainless steel it will not radiate much heat. You will also notice that this cookware tends to have a flat bottom because it does not need a "dimple" in the bottom for structural integrity. There are enough layers in the bottom to assure the stability.
I don't remember how many layers Lifetime has but I do remember that at least one is silicone which I was impressed by at the time.

This is not a mode of pressure cooking in any sense of the word since all cooking is done at ambient pressure or in a slight vacuum due to the lid seal and cooling of the cookware.

I wouldn't worry about the quality of the stainless steel, they can use any kind that they want and I am sure at this price they use the best say 18/10.

The advantage of waterless cooking is that food is not immersed in water so that water soluble nutrients are not lost and vegetables do not get mushy as they will if overcooked in water. I suppose that there are some other advantages also but they escape me at the present moment. Vegetables do remain crisp and bright.

The disadvantage is the enormous cost. It is hard for me to justify several thousand dollars for a set based upon retained nutrients. I think that an enormous amount of nutrients are lost in the shipping and handling of fresh vegetables anyway. I just steam away or use a pressure cooker with or without a steamer basket. In my mind a pressure cooker is much more versatile than waterless cookware, more speedy and you can prepare a wider variety of foods in a pressure cooker. If cooking something like a soup or a stew I don't know what the advantage, if any, of waterless is over a cheap pot with a flame tamer.

As a point of reference I managed to pick up an electric frying pan from Lifetime and and one from Salad Master very cheaply. I boiled water in them expecting to see that the water would boil somewhat uniformly over the surface of the fryer but the boiling tended to follow the heating coil regardless of the number of layers. I do occasionally use the Lifetime fryer for preparing things like a spaghetti sauce using tempeh or tofu and sauteeing vegetables.

I don't know how this type of cookware will cook chicken since I had long since given up eating chicken before acquiring the Lifetime cookware.

I guess that had I just paid $2000 for a set of cookware I would have a hard time admitting that I wish that I hadn't.

I hope that this is helpful to you in making your decision or at least informative. I probably will think of something later and post again, if you have something specific I will attempt to answer.

Regards and best of luck

Bob Kopitzke



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