Thursday, September 21, 2017

What I've learned about the Instant Pot

On all the Facebook Instant Pot groups, and on all the blogs that extol their virtues, I've seen the same old song when asked, "What's the difference between an Instant Pot and a pressure cooker:  They answer, "The Instant Pot IS a pressure cooker."

Well, I've used stovetop pressure cookers all my life, so I started out thinking I knew how long certain foods would take to cook in my new electric pressure cooker.  I was so wrong.  For instance, with the old model, I soak my beans overnight and then pressure-cook them.  Once the pan gets up to pressure, they cook in 3 minutes.  THREE!!!!  According to the book that came with the Instant Pot, if you soak your beans they will take 25-30 minutes to cook (or you don't have to soak them, just cook them five minutes longer).  Pressure cooker it may be, but it's way slower than the stovetop cooker.  And that doesn't count the time it takes to get up to pressure.  

I cooked a roast in the Instant pot today.  Now here's a strange thing... you will find people in Facebook groups and on blogs saying roasts cook anywhere from thirty to ninety minutes in the Instant Pot.  That's quite a range, so how is a beginner to know?  My first roast was good, but a little chewy.  I don't recall how long I cooked it.  We ate it, although I used the latter part of it in hash.  Today when the chuck roast was unsatisfactory after cooking 45 minutes, I ended up giving it another 45.  That's what it took to make it fork-tender and perfect.  Lesson learned.

I really like the perfect boiled eggs done in the Instant Pot, but I imagine most of you know you can get them perfect with no ugly green ring around the yolk just by not-boiling them.  You bring them to a boil in a pan, turn off the burner, cover them, and wait 20 minutes.  This is probably as quick as you could do it in the Instant Pot, although I will say I have a tendency to leave the stove while waiting for the eggs to start boiling on the stove.  So I usually end up with the green ring I was trying to avoid.  That's really not such a big deal, since I've been eating green-ringed boiled eggs most of my life and lived to tell about it, but I probably will be doing them in the Instant Pot. 

I'm very happy to have the option of poaching eggs in my new pressure cooker.  I don't have any other sort of egg-poaching pan, and I never mastered the method of dropping an egg in swirling water to poach it.  However, the poached egg will take ten minutes or more, total.  So you might want to keep your egg-poaching pan if you have one, because it's probably faster.  

I made some excellent macaroni and cheese in my new cooker, but we're trying to shed pounds, not gain them.  So that isn't something I'll make often.  The thing works great on steel-cut oats too, but takes about the same length of time as my double-boiler, if you count the time it takes to get up to pressure and then get rid of the pressure at the end.

Am I returning this new toy?  No way!  I can't wait to make a cheesecake in it (after we shed the pounds we gained eating my one batch of mac and cheese).  As far as time goes, I have plenty of time most days to cook meals anyhow.  I might still use the old pressure cooker for beans, though, since there is a huge difference in the time involved, 3 minutes versus 30.  And there's less things to wash when you're done.

I never was scared to use a stovetop pressure cooker, having grown up with one.  You have to stay in the house with them and keep the pressure regulated, but once you get it right, usually in the first five minutes, you don't have to touch it again.  But I still stayed in the house while it was in operation.  You CAN walk away from the Instant Pot.  You set it for however many minutes you want it to cook knowing it's safe, and it will turn itself to "low" when it's done.  

I've heard lots of people express their fear at using the Instant Pot.  Cliff and I agree that it would be almost impossible to get this thing to explode.  Safety is built in to it.  

Some of my boo-boos?  Forgetting to turn the knob on top to "pressure"; forgetting to put the ring in that goes around the bottom inside of the lid; and not having the ring all the way in place.  The last two of these are things I should have known, since I have pressure cookers.  But I get sort of nervous when I'm cooking with something new, then I get frustrated and it takes me several tries to figure out what I've done wrong.

The best thing I see about the Instant Pot is that you don't have to be afraid it's going to blow up.  Those who were terrified of the old-school pressure cookers need fear no longer.  


Andrea said...

I absolutely love "product reviews", Donna. It helps so much in deciding whether a product or appliance is something I'd like to try. I'm like you.... I grew up listening to the rocking/swishing of the pressure device on top of my dear mother's pressure cooker. When mine does the same thing today, it never fails to "take me back home" when I was little. For my bridal shower in March, 1976, I got my first pressure cooker. I think most brides-to-be did during those years. I don't know if I'll get an Instant Pot or not, as I seldom leave the homestead so I have plenty of time to let something cook in my big cast iron pot all day long if need be. But it would be nice to have something like this around "just in case". Thanks again for the wonderful review. xxx

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Yes, it is nice to see your review of a new to me product. I don't know anyone that has one to compare to. Thanks for sharing your adventures. Most anything I like to eat these days is not conducive to loosing weight. One thing about summer was I ate more fresh salads, now I'll be turning to soups.


it's nice to read your review of what's a new product to me. i appreciate everything you say it can do.

Margaret said...

When I cooked meat for my family, I loved my pressure cooker. This sounds like too much work to me! :)

Thomas Helms said...

I hope you posted this review on the Instant Pot web site, FB Instant Pot groups, and any other place you can post it. It is very well-written and clear.