What is an Instant Pot? The “Instant Pot” is the brand name for an electrical pressure cooker. Because they are electrical and computerized, these electrical pressure cookers can be set for a whole variety of cooking cycles. Pressure cookers have been around for hundreds of years. An “Instant Pot” is a modern pressure cooker and multi-cooker.
Old pressure cookers required heat to be added via an electical burner or some kind of fire. There was essentially a cooking cycle that can be described as “on the heat” and “off the heat”. The “Instant Pot” brand now has several models and accessories for their cooking line. There are also a suite of companies now making similar products. Everything from air fryers to timed delayed searing, cooking, and cool down. These products are now referred to as multi-cookers.
Do I need an “Instant Pot”?
Yes. I’m assuming everyone likes convenience. Multi-cookers have evolved exponentially since they’ve come on the scene. There’s a reason for their popularity.
Multi-cookers take care of the cooking. Period. Not to mention, “Instant Pots” are much safer than the old pressure cookers used to be and with the added feature of adding your “slow cooker” into the mix.
Having a multi-cooker in your kitchen opens up the options of cooking with less clean up, along with properly cooked food, walk away cooking, and all done with ONE appliance on your countertop. Today, multi-cookers can pressure cook, air fry, bake, broil, slow cook, roast, steam, sauté, and keep things warm. Some multi-cookers do it all while some only do a few things. The “Instant Pot” brand has models that do all of these.. or a combination thereof.
Are “Instant Pots” safe?
Multi-cookers have come a LONG way in regards to safety in the home. Pressure cookers of today are much safer that they were many years ago. Redundant state of the art pressure valve systems and cool down cycles are just the start of where safety begins with these products. Each company is different but generally speaking modern day pressure cookers are exponentially more safe than the pressure cooker of old. The “Instant Pot” works so well at cooking while maintaining safety of the product that the “Instant Pot” has become the model that other multi-cookers try to imitate.
How does an “Instant Pot” Work?
The pressure cooker function works just like a normal pressure cooker on the stove would except the “Instant Pot” is electric. Humans have been using pressure cookers for a long time. Pressure cookers trap steam from the boiling water (or moisture in the food). The temperature of the water will rise from 212° F to about 250° F. Just like on the stove top frying pan.. if you raise the temperature of the pan, the food will cook faster. You can’t raise the temperature of boiling water.. it becomes steam. When you pressure cook you are trapping the steam and making the water temperature rise.
Is the Instant Pot healthy for you?
The “Instant Pot” can make a plethora of healthy recipes for you. Let’s not kid ourselves. The “Instant pot” can also make many recipes that most people would consider unhealthy as well. Healthy recipes require healthy ingredients..no? Of course, it depends on what you are cooking and what YOU consider healthy. We’re all different. GENERALLY speaking, the instant pot as a multi-cooker is thought of by many, as the appliance to have for “healthy” cooking. The healthy term has been attached to the Instant Pot because of the amount of healthy recipes you can make with it. That’s what they call marketing.
That being said, many people believe that pressure cooking your food removes the parts of your food that may actually harm us internally (anti-nutrients) if they are not cooked properly (pressure cooked). If you haven’t heard of lectins, they’re plant proteins that are found in almost all foods.. including meats. Really, this is too much of a discussion topic for here, but people who are trying to remove or reduce these plant based proteins will pressure cook their meals to remove or neutralize them.
What can you cook in an Instant Pot?
It’s a long list of foods you can cook in your instant pot. Let’s stipulate that we’re really talking about a multi-cooker.
Today, Multi-cookers can pressure cook, air fry, bake, broil slow cook, roast, steam, sauté, and keep your food warm after its cooked. The best advice here is to experiment. Almost any pressure cooker recipe will work in as an Instant Pot recipe too. Your favorite recipes are going to cook different if you’re all of sudden doing everything in one pot.
Adapt your recipes. For instance, normally cooking a beef stew meant searing the meat beforehand in a separate pan or pot. An Instant Pot can do the searing of the meat, the cooking of the stew (fast or slow), and then keep it warm for the day. The recipes that you use on a regular basis will need to be adapted for another method of cooking.
What foods should you NOT cook in an “Instant Pot”?
This is a difficult answer because again we’re talking about a multi-cooker. It really depends on what you’re cooking and how you’ve decided to cook it. You need to experiment with what works and what doesn’t. You may need to enjoy your favorite foods slightly different.
For instance, you will not cook cakes the same way.. but you can make nice moist cupcakes. The texture will be different than what you’re used to because you cooked them in a pressure cooker that trapped in the moisture. The texture may change as the cooking process changes. This is what happens when you cook things differently.
You can make pasta in a pressure cooker but the pasta becomes too gummy for my taste. At this point you are probably better off just doing the tried and true method of boiling with water. Don’t force yourself to use the pressure cooker when not needed… but understand that it will cook pasta too.
Fried chicken is another one that is sort of a myth. I know what you’re thinking… Pressure cooker equates to that crispy fried chicken that isn’t greasy and has made those chicken franchises so flush with money. Well, hold up there a minute Colonel Instant Pot. Those multi million dollar chicken franchises have commercial pressure deep fryers. That is not what an instant pot is.
The rubber seals on an Instant Pot will never hold the amount of pressure needed when cooking with pressured oil to give you that commercial pressure deep fried feel and texture. If you try to pressure deep fry your chicken in an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker, it will cook but it will not be what you are used to.. or want. It will be greasy and far from crispy… Very little browning (if any) and the browning will be uneven all around the chicken.
However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with air frying your chicken in the Instant Pot.. or maybe enjoying your fried chicken cooked a little differently. Then there is always the tried and true method of just frying. You can cook your fried chicken in your instant pot just as you would your fried chicken on a stove in a frying pan (that’s an open pot and without pressure).
Yep.. The Instant Pot heats up just fine without the cover on.