I have had a VITACLAY 2-IN-1 ORGANIC RICE N’ SLOW COOKER for years. I believe it was a gift from my husband in 2009? I loved having a rice cooker (I can’t/won’t make rice on the stove!) that was not only NOT aluminum or teflon, but was CLAY. Traditional foods and materials will always call to me. And this cooker has served me well. This is a real life pic of my well used rice cooker, still going strong. See how well loved it is?!
Since then, like most of us, I’ve also heard siren song of the Instant Pot. It has so many convenient features. Most people like the promises of speed. I quickly skimmed over any concerns I came across about pressure cooking in the traditional foods community because, hey – we are ALL making decisions based on circumstances and priorities. At least I’m cooking real food in my own kitchen, right?!!
But I was once again feeling the call of clay and natural cooking and materials.
First, I actually found I did NOT use my IP for pressure cooking much. I did for yogurt prep, hard boiled eggs and an occasional (very occasional) dinner. But those things were not how I used it most. I did use it more like a slow cooker that had the advantage of sauteing.
[[Do you use yours as a pressure cooker for quick dinners? READ ON. You might be surprised by the VitaClay!]]
First, I have to start by saying I feel like these clay inserts are works of art. They feel and look gorgeous. Here is how they are made into safe, unglazed and non-stick beauties.
While there is some debate of the nutritional impact on foods that are pressure cooked, I have to concede that it is a fairly new technology and that historically, humans did not cook foods at these high temperatures and pressures. So while I’m not going to throw away my Instant Pot, I am going to consider what clay enthusiasts claim:
- Clay is alkalizing. It interacts with acidity in the food, neutralizing the pH balance. Highly acidic foods like tomato sauce will become naturally sweet when cooked in clay.
- Clay activates enzymes and minerals in your food.
- Clay promotes even cooking and better food texture
- Zisha Clay is natural, with No added Lead, aluminum and Non-stick chemicals
- Clay is porous. Heat and moisture circulate through the pot during cooking, unlike metal or enamel-lined pots
- Clay acts as a natural insulator that holds and absorbs heat to cook foods slowly and evenly bringing out earthy flavors and textures.
- Naturally thermal, clay cooks 4 times faster and stays warm longer, cutting your energy usage in half.
Vitaclay seeks to marry the traditional cooking and nutritional benefits of clay with modern convenience. And I think they have succeeded! You can read here about the differences between their cookers, slow cookers and pressure cookers, but I’m going to outline some other very practical differences I think every home cook needs to consider.
Two other big advantage of clay are (1) that it keeps a consistent temperature inside the cooker so you can use it for sous vide OR just know you can open it up to check on it with no harm done and (2) it holds heat when DONE cooking, keeping it warm for hours without electricity.
I made a chart to help you see, at a glance, some of the main differences to consider. Scroll down for that!
I want to start with a reminder that these pots ARE MADE OF CLAY. That means if you drop them, they will break! They are beautiful, almost works of art. They feel amazing. They need care. So if have someone in your house who tends to be rough on things, you need to consider this. Whether that be a helpful child or a helpful husband who has already broken three of your stoneware pieces and one rice cooker pot. I just might know someone this helpful.
Related to this, imagine that you are cooking a clay pot over or in a fire. You would NOT put an empty pot in the fire. Your clay pots need to have liquid in them. So there is no DRY cooking in your Vitaclays. The Multicooker needs at least two cups of liquid and your Stock Pot 2-3 cups. Though what TYPE of food you are cooking is a factor. Meat will release liquid when cooking, so starting with less water is OK.
And again – CLAY! Avoid drastic temperatures changes. Don’t take it from the fridge and add boiling water. So much of this is common sense but be sure to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS that come with your Vitaclay. I promise, after reading and using yours a few times, you will be a pro.
I have a need….a need….for SPEED!
OK so are you one of the people who I spoke to above who said “sorry, but I NEED the SPEED of pressure cooking!!! This isn’t for me.”? You should know RIGHT AWAY that the Vitaclay Multi-cooker is a FAST SLOW COOKER. Yes, really. What does that mean?
Well, you can cook a chicken in about an hour. This is with no pressure build or release. No, you cannot cook it from frozen. But yes, it turns out great. Here was my first attempt, during which I seared the chicken before cooking.
As a rule, MOST of your slow cooker recipes take about two hours with no sacrifice in flavor, juiciness, or texture. I have found this to be absolutely true and reliable in my experience. You can see the general rules here for converting slow cooking times here.
Beans that have been soaked take an hour and unsoaked up to two. Once you factor in pressure build and release times, this is NOT much longer than a pressure cooker, especially if you usually allow for natural release. So the VitaClays do help you cook faster, but more naturally.
Both of these are pretty darn versatile, both handling:
whole chickens and chicken parts in bulk
yogurt (still experimenting on what I love best)
(and more, but the above is where I have experience)
Both of these have clay lids, which get HOT. You need to use a potholder and then gently place them down on in a secure spot. The Multi-Cooker does come with a metal lid “grabber” thingy that is great. I hang mine on the handle of the cooker so it’s always accessible. Grabbing a delicate, yet boiling hot lid was one of the downsides of my old rice cooker, but VitaClay must have listened to their customers and fixed this issue!
Main Differences between the 7900 and 7800
The main differences are that the Stock Pot (7800) is BIGGER and has steam release valves. This means that the liquid can boil off in the Stock Pot so you need to keep an eye on it if there’s a chance your liquid level might go too low. But if you have a large family, you might appreciate the size of the Stock Pot. I think of the Stock Pot as a traditional soup pot that needs less attention.
The Multi-Cooker (7900) is smaller but sealed, so you can leave it unattended for longer cooking. By smaller, I mean four quarts of food volume vs the Stock Pot’s six. It also has delayed start, which is a feature I love. The Stock Pot has this for its porridge setting. They BOTH have keep warm settings to hold things perfectly after cooking. I also love that and the IP has made that a “must” feature for me now. I think of the Multi-Cooker as that “fast slow cooker” and rice cooker combo PLUS.
I think of BOTH of them as ADDING nutrition to my food and not sacrificing any nourishment at all. Everything has tasted great and cooked perfectly, from rice to chicken to broth to ribs!
(Please note that Vitaclay’s rice cooker and slow cooker combo that I have is smaller and has fewer features but might be a great fit if you are single or only cooking for one or two).
Here’s a table I created of some practical considerations if you are considering adding a VitaClay to your life.
VitaClay vs. Slow Cookers vs. Pressure Cookers
|VitaClay Multi-Cooker||VitaClay Stock Pot>||Slow Cooker||IP Pressure Cooker|
|Min. liquid||varies, abt. 2 cups incl. liquid from food||varies, abt. 2-3 cups incl. liquid from food||can't be completely dry, but liquid from food often enough.||1 cup|
|frozen foods||no||no||not recommended||yes|
|warm/hold mode||no, but see workaround *||yes||yes||yes|
|delay start||yes||only in porridge mode||available||yes
|open lid while cooking||yes **||yes||yes, but will often add to cook time.||NO!**|
|release valves||no||yes||varies||yes, for adjusting type of cooking or type of release after cooking|
|weight of insert||heavy||heavy||heavy||light|
|durability||delicate||sturdier, but still clay||varies but often breakable||durable stainless|
|profiles and foot prints (see below)||Shorter than IP, but slightly longer footprint. Shorter than VC SP, slightly longer footprint.||Taller than VC MC, similar to IP. Slightly smaller footprint than IP.||really varies||Similar height as VC SP. Larger footprint than VC SP. Taller than VC MC.|
* There’s a workaround for the Multi-Cooker’s lack of a warm/hold mode. I often like to reheat leftovers and would just hit WARM on the IP. But for the VitaClay Multi-Cooker, turn it on SOUP or STEW for ten minutes and then it will move into warm mode after that. Just enough to warm and hold your dish.
** Opening the lid while cooking is something I do love about the VitaClays. When you pressure cook something, you can’t check on it, adjust a recipe or stir things together once you set it. And you certainly can’t forget any ingredients!!! But you CAN do these things while the VitaClay is cooking without sacrificing cooking time.
Profile and Foot Print Comparisons
VitaClays are an investment. Like all investments, they pay off in the (really not too) long run. Like all investments, they require some tending and care. If the $190 price is too rich for your blood, consider adding this to your next gift list or doing a pantry challenge to pay for it.
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