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Instant Pot Is the Best Electric Pressure Cooker

3/12/2014 12:00:00 AM

Tags: electric pressure cooker, stainless steel pressure cooker, Instant Pot, Robin Mather

Instant PotIn looking at electric pressure cookers last year, I was dismayed to see that virtually all the models on the market have a non-stick lined inner pot. I dislike Teflon and other non-stick coatings on pots, pans and appliances because I mistrust their safety. Moreover, I have a parrot companion, and the fumes from overheated non-stick coatings can kill birds in just moments. (See Teflon Dangers: Deadly to Chickens — and Us.) In an electric appliance, I can’t control how hot that coating gets. 

Then I found The Instant Pot. This stainless-steel pressure cooker has a durable, easy-to-clean, heavy-duty stainless steel inner pot, and I knew I’d found what I sought. Wow! It’s not only an electric pressure cooker, it’s also a rice cooker, slow cooker and steamer and it can be used for small-batch pressure-canning. Its stainless steel insert allows me to sauté or brown some foods before fully cooking them, and it has a keep-warm function which automatically kicks in when the food finishes cooking. There’s also a delay cooking timer, so I can set it up in the morning and have hot, cooked dinner ready when I arrive home from work. Although the Instant Pot arrives with ten pre-set cooking modes, it’s fully programmable, so I can easily adapt my favorite pressure-cooking recipes to its use.

At about $120, the price was right for me. I knew I’d give it a good workout, and that I could depreciate its cost in a short time.

One virtue of electric pressure cookers is economy. Like all pressure cookers, they permit quick cooking of inexpensive ingredients. Unsoaked dried beans cook from scratch in 30 minutes. A pot roast can go from fridge to table in about the same time. Budget-priced cuts of meat that typically require long hours in the oven, such as pork shoulder, speed to the table, even if you don’t start cooking until you get home after work.

Additionally, pressure cookers in general use less energy than conventional cooking simply because of their shorter cooking time. Electric pressure cookers, drawing from an outlet rather than using the range’s power, require less still. The Instant Pot’s 1000 watts pulls significantly less electricity than the average electric range’s 12,0000 watts.

So I put my new Instant Pot to the test. In the weeks after it arrived, I cooked in it almost every night. Suddenly, I was eating better — and cheaper — than I had for some time. I loved its portability, and took it into the office so my colleagues and I could have soup for lunch on a couple of occasions. It seems perfect for potlucks as well as family dinners. Even now, after months of several-times-weekly use, I’m still in love with the Instant Pot.

I caught up by phone with Instant Pot’s inventor, Dr. Robert Wang, who’s in Canada. Wang says his interest in artificial intelligence prompted his decision to focus on “smart” kitchen appliances. “Designing our first product took 18 months, from design to market,” he says. “The first design wasn’t that great, but we got a lot of market feedback. We’re a small company with 30 percent of our people in support. That’s such an important part of our company: We’re getting the feedback that helps us refine and improve our product — our only product.” The currently available version of Instant Pot is its third generation.

Wang says several concerns prompted his drive to create a good product. “We want to create value for our Canadian and American customers,” he says. “They are health-conscious, and they don’t want to eat manufactured food. With our fast-paced lives, we have too many things to care for, and too many ways to enjoy ourselves as well, so many have little time to cook.” And “because we as a company are green-conscious, we are concerned with the environment, so we want energy efficiency.”

So Wang and his company have engineered for those concerns, as well as some related directly to the product. “User ease is number one,” Wang says. “Safety is our absolute top priority.”

The next-generation Instant Pot will feature Bluetooth connectivity, Wang says. Though it sounds gimmicky, there is real utility in the feature: Users will be able to program their favorite recipes’ cooking times into the pot, as well as writing simple programs to make yogurt, pasteurize milk and cook different volumes of foods using a simple app on their smart phone. This next-generation Instant Pot begins manufacture in June and is expected to ship in September, Wang says.

If you can’t decide whether to buy now or wait until the newest version comes to market, maybe this will help you decide: Current Instant Pot owners get “significant discounts” on newer models, Wang says.

Robin Mather is a senior associate editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS and the author of The Feast Nearby, a collection of essays and recipes from her year of eating locally on $40 a week. In her spare time, she is a hand-spinner, knitter, weaver, homebrewer, cheese maker and avid cook who cures her own bacon. Find her on TwitterFacebook or Google+.



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Againstthegrain
7/20/2014 3:16:17 PM
Count me as another besotted fan of the Instant Pot. I have the DUO 60 six liter 2014 model. I've been using it almost daily for 7 months, sometimes 2-4 times a day. I keep telling my husband it's going with us on the next road trip so I can make supper and breakfast in our motel room. I've purchased two more IP DUOs as gifts for my college student nieces, and as soon as the DUO is available in the UK, I'm buying one for my SIL, who lives with a super tiny London kitchen and is very busy caring for her elderly mother while doing shift work as a hospital nurse. My commitment to preparing a family supper without using takeaway or commercially prepared meals was challenged more than ever this year when my son entered high school and participated in JV sports. Halfway through the past school year, with car pool duty, practice and game schedules that often ended later than expected, and a teenage boy arriving home with a ravenous appetite, I struggled to get a home prepared dinner on the table in a timely manner. Though I had 3 slow cooker appliances in various sizes, my cooking style tends to be rather spontaneous, and we quickly tired of stewy, soggy slow cooked main dishes day after day. Our veg bin backed up with the less perishable veggies from our weekly CSA boxes that take more time to prepare and/or cook - beets, artichokes, winter squash, etc. The Instant Pot has been a much better fit than slow cookers for my spontaneous cooking style, too - the IP certainly can make excellent stews like a slow cooker (it has a slow cook program), but with pressure cooking I don't have to start supper in the morning and smell cooking food all day or even plan our evening meal quite so far ahead. The Instant Pot takes up about the same space as my medium sized Crock Pot, but it does so much more than the Crock Pot and in far less time than even conventional stovetop or oven methods - it pressure-steams veggies; scalds milk and incubates yogurt right in the single serve wide mouth half pint canning jars; does small batch (up to 4 pints) pressure canning; steam-"bakes" desserts like cheesecake and custards; pressure-steams rice and other grains; and makes the best beans/lentils I've ever had - I donated all the canned beans in my cupboard to the local food pantry. Now we have homemade hummus whenever we want and brown rice doesn't delay our dinner after a busy day. In 60-90 minutes the Instant Pot makes rich homemade bone broth that's as good as the bone broth I simmer in a slow cooker or stock pot for 24 hours, so I make smaller, more frequent batches of broth now, which saves fridge/freezer space; the Instant Pot is sealed while under pressure, too, so it doesn't stink up the house like a slow cooker can. I make veg broth as needed in a few minutes prior to starting a recipe that uses veg broth. The Instant Pot s/s/ liner pot is very high quality - it's shiny finish hand washes more easily than my s/s All Clad pots & pans, though it washes nicely in dishwasher at the tend of the day, too. After one month of using the Instant Pot I found myself using it so often that I bought an extra liner pot so I could cook with the IP while starting or finishing a dish on the stove - making a quick liner pot switch without having to empty and wash the pot. I've cut back on stovetop and oven cooking so much that I can even see a difference in our electricity usage. I have donated my small and medium sized slow cookers, a yogurt maker, and a big stockpot with steamer/pasta insert, which has emptied a significant amount of cabinet storage space. However, in 7 months of use I have yet to put the Instant Pot away in a cupboard; I use it so often it has earned the approx 12" x 12" real estate on my countertop. The lid-holding handle design on the DUO model is ingenious - the lid stays out of the way and off the countertop - any condensation on the inner lid drips into a channel on the housing lip and collects in a cup clipped to the back side. There are clips on the housing to manage the cord, too. I've always liked to cook. I place a high priority on home prepared meals with real food so I outfit my kitchen with good tools But I can also be a somewhat lazy cook, preferring recipes and cooking techniques that aren't especially fussy and don't require a lot of continual attention and hands-on effort. The Instant Pot fits my needs perfectly - yes, the measuring, peeling, chopping, and/or soaking of most ingredients is the same, but Instant Pot's "set & forget" microprocessor means I can cook dishes like risotto while doing something else, without having to constantly stand, stir, and monitor at the stove. I can't think of another item of cooking equipment that has reinvigorated the meals I prepare as much as the Instant Pot - far more than my stand mixer or even my hi-powered blender!

Ken
5/12/2014 7:24:34 AM
"The Instant Pot’s 1000 watts pulls significantly less electricity than the average electric range’s 12,0000 watts." Because, obviously, when I use a pressure cooker on the stove, I have to turn on ALL OF THE BURNERS (and the oven). Why not?










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