You may remember your granny having a pressure cooker in her house and all manner of meals coming out of it. Pressure cookers have been popular since the second world war due to the fact that they could save much-needed fuel by cooking quicker than conventional methods. The pressure cooker has actually been around for hundreds of years though and was invented by Denis Papin, a French physicist all the way back in 1679. Basically, an Instant Pot is a more modern version of a pressure cooker.
Are Pressure Cookers Safe?
So if an Instant Pot is basically a pressure cooker does that mean it is dangerous? You’ve heard how pressure cookers can explode and all the dangers associated with them.. Pressure cookers are much safer now than when they first started hitting the market. Modern safety regulations insist that pressure cookers pass all sorts of tests and examinations before you are allowed to get your hands on one.
Back in the ’30s and ’50s when they really hit their peak of popularity there were risks from exploding. Many cookers didn’t have a secondary release for pressure and if the main valve became clogged then there was a risk of the pressure building up and the cooker exploding. This wasn’t quite as dramatic as it sounded though. The Instant Pot and other cookers nowadays are far safer and can be used daily with no concerns.
How does an Instant Pot cooker work?
An Instant Pot cooks food quicker than a conventional oven but how does it do that? Well, there is a reason pressure cookers have all those locks and seals. If you boil water it reaches the maximum temperature and there is no way to make it go higher but with an Instant Pot, you want to increase the pressure to reduce the cooking time. The Instant Pot does this by creating a tight seal which stops the steam escaping. This then reaches a temperature much higher than boiling water. All that steam goes into the food which cooks it quicker and also adds moisture. This means for example if you were cooking a joint of meat then it will come out tender and moist. If you put a joint in the oven and tried to cook it quickly through a higher temperature you would end up with burnt and dry meat. The cooking process retains more nutrients and antioxidants than other methods.
What can you cook in an Instant Pot?
The question might be easier if you asked what can’t you cook in it. They are a versatile piece of kitchen equipment and can cook a wide range of foods. Fancy a Boeuf Bourguignon? No problem. Pot roast? Put the ingredients in and let the cooker do the work. Instant Pots can make yoghurt, pancakes, flans, curries, noodle soup and boil eggs. They cook meat from frozen and pulled pork or even a whole roast chicken is not a problem. You can make stock, chilli con Carne and a host of healthy meals for a range of lifestyles or diets such as vegan, vegetarian and paleo. You can do healthy snacks like boiled peanuts too!
What are Some of the Advantages of an Instant Pot Cooker?
The most obvious advantage is the time-saving aspect. These days time is more precious than ever and trying to cook tasty and nutritious food can be time-consuming. Trying to juggle work and home life together is not easy and some families just don’t have the time to sit together at the table for dinner each day. The Instant Pot reduces cooking time by up to 70% depending on what you are using it for so this can be a real boon.
Instant Pots are user friendly
There is no need for lots of separate pans. You can use the cooker to make one pot meals. It can cook frozen meat so there is no need to remember to defrost anything in advance. It also doesn’t have to be used as a pressure cooker, it can slow cook too. You could put in the ingredients for a soup and set to slow cook and then when you come home you have a healthy meal waiting for you. It can also be used to keep your food warm so if people are eating at different times then there is no reason to reheat in the oven.
They are energy efficient
Pressure cookers use about 75% less water than steaming due to them being fully sealed. The heat and pressure is monitored so instead of the pot being heated up all the time like a conventional oven the heating is off for up to 40% of the time during a longer cook. Because the pot cooks food up to 70% faster than means it also uses 70% less power making it more environmentally friendly.
There are many other advantages such as the inner being made of stainless steel and therefore easy to clean and non-toxic.
They can also be set to come on at a certain time meaning you can have your meal start at 5 pm while you are travelling home and when you get in the meal is done. You can use the time-saving aspects to free you up for your exercise routine. Perhaps you have exercise and fitness goals but find it hard to find the time, perhaps an Instant Pot can help.
For all these advantages there are still some disadvantages to an Instant Pot.
Finally, what are the disadvantages of an Instant Pot?
Well, the first thing to note is that Instant Pots are not actually instant. They take time to build up the pressure before they start cooking and also you can’t just open them after finishing as the pressure needs to be released. This is done either by quick or natural release.
Size matters. Another consideration is that a pot can only be filled two-thirds of the way so you must consider how big an Instant Pot you and your family require. Buy one too small and you risk having a gadget that ends up gathering dusk.
They are not always quick. Some things might be quicker to cook on a stove and you also can’t always check to see how the cooking is progressing. They also can’t fry so if you like crispy skin on your meat then you won’t achieve this with a pressure style cooker. These are some of the things you may wish to consider.