Imagine a device that can fill the role of several kitchen appliances including a slow cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, rice cooker, warmer, and even a sauté pan, just to name a few. Well, you do not have to buy all of these kitchen appliances when you have an Instant Pot. This revolutionary kitchen appliance is known as the multi-cooker and is used by many food-makers at home, from novice to professionals.
Also referred to as the electric pressure cooker, the Instant Pot is much like electric kettles that provide a convenient alternative to stovetop kettles and has become a convenient alternative to stovetop pressure cookers. With all of the other additional features and benefits it offers, it’s effortless to see why almost all home cooks use the Instant Pot as their main kitchen gadget.
What Does An Instant Pot Do And How Does It Work?
Three main parts are consisting of an Instant Pot: the base unit, the inner pot, and the lid. If the basic program is labeled as “Pressure Cook” or “Manual”, you begin by locating the base unit and locking the lid to create an airtight seal.
In the base unit, the heating element warms the inner pot which creates steam and builds pressure inside the pot. It is quite common for Instant Pot recipes to require at least 1 cup of liquid to get steam. It is important to remember that you cannot pressure cook without steam.
One beneficial aspect of the Instant Pot is that its heated and pressurized environment allows food to cook faster than it would for other cooking methods. This feature is time-saving and is perfect for home cooks on the go. Furthermore, thanks to the presence of steam, the foods are less likely to dry out.
It is also imperative to know that other Instant Pot programs are designed to be used with a different lid that won’t create an airtight seal, or without the locking lid. These programs might be called “Slow Cook” and “Sauté”, and the base unit heats the food inside the inner pot while the steam escapes, not allowing the pressure to build.
Bottom Line: What Instant Pots Do Well
Food Appearance and Taste Preservation
Whether you are cooking in open containers or even ones with a lid, food is exposed to oxygen and heat which will cause dull colors and diminished flavor. With a pressure cooker, you do not have to worry because it saturates food with steam which enables the retention of bright colors and phytochemicals. The airtight design similarly allows the flavors to develop faster and more profoundly.
Eliminates Harmful Microorganisms
Pressure cookers are exceptional in their multifaceted ability to effectively destroy harmful bacteria. This is because it creates an environment that permits water to boil at a temperature of at least 100°C (212°F). With this facet, you can use the appliance for treating water, or as a sterilization tool for jars or baby bottles.
Many foods have natural toxins such as a lectin found in red kidney beans called phytohaemagglutinin. Pressure cookers can be used to neutralize the naturally occurring toxins and prevent any possible chance of poisoning. It takes only 5 ingested undercooked kidney beans to cause phytohaemagglutinin poisoning, but 10 minutes of pressure cooking will avoid this from occurring. It has been proven to reduce haemagglutinating units (the toxic agent) to safe levels.
Another example is a mold-based mycotoxin called aflatoxins that can occur when corn, wheat, beans, and rice are exposed to humidity and stored improperly. Despite reaching high temperatures, boiling alone does not fully destroy aflatoxins. According to a 2006 study, Korean researchers found that temperatures of pressure cooking were sufficient enough to reduce aflatoxin concentrations to safe levels.
Efficient Moist Cooking
Moist cooking applications such as stewing and braising are great for Instant Pots. They are also great for taking tough (usually at a cheap price) cuts of meat and making them deliciously tender, particularly for pork butt and beef chuck. This facet is perfect for pulled pork sandwiches, comforting roasts, and Mexican-night tacos.
Optimal Vitamin & Nutrient Absorption
Regular steaming and boiling can cause water-soluble vitamins to trickle out of food which diminishes their nutritional value. Since food is cooked quickly with pressure cookers deeply and evenly, the food retains upwards to 90% of those water-soluble vitamins.
Time & Energy Efficient
Second to only microwaves, electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot are energy-efficient kitchen appliances based on two major factors. The first factor is that the cooker does not need to exert as much energy to heat up because the inner pot (the cooking chamber) is fully insulated. The second factor is that it boils faster due to the pressure cooker requiring significantly less liquid than traditional cooking methods. If you were to compare other cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, or baking, pressure cooking is the best method to use because it can reduce your cooking time and energy by up to 70%.
Clean & Safe
Stovetop pressure cookers are notorious for the image of conjured clunky, rattling, steam-spewing monsters. The Instant Pot is quite the opposite image with its airtight, sleek, and virtually inaudible features during cooking. Food tastes excellent using the Instant Pot because it captures aromas and flavors while not heating your house like an oven. This feature is especially perfect for the summer months!
Not only that, but with pre-programmed cooking options on top of 10 safety mechanisms, you can literally set it and walk away, which is a perfect time-saver feature. While you spend time doing the things you enjoy, the intelligent programming will ensure that the food is cooked quickly, deeply, and evenly.
Another important benefit to note is that the Instant Pot is known for its cleanliness. Cooking with this appliance both reduces your cleanup to one pot and reduces the number of appliances in your kitchen.
You can essentially minimize time, money, and clutter in the kitchen using the Instant Pot!
There’s a whole lot you can do with an Instant Pot, especially the best instant pots, with its unique features and benefits (just look at the amazing reviews and Amazon ratings!). And cookbook authors, bloggers, and recipe developers continue to come up with more new recipes all the time using this specific appliance.
In the end, it is worth a try for most busy home cooks. Even if you consider yourself a fair novice Instant Pot user, there is still so much potential, so many new strategies that an Instant Pot will open up for you. And, it’ll do the same for most other busy home cooks, too. It’s just a matter of deciding to find the best instant pots, and then diving into all the possibilities and getting started!
Written by Angela Lutz