Your grandma’s pressure cooker is getting a reboot. The Instant Pot has helped make the electric pressure cooker trendy, but in a safer and more user-friendly way. Find out all there is to know about this old-school cooking tool.
Pressure Cooking 101
A pressure cooker is essentially a chamber of steam that quickly heats to a high temperature, rapidly cooking food within a moist environment. While there is a bit of a learning curve when using a pressure cooker, it is fairly simple to operate. Newer models have sophisticated dials and built-in safety mechanisms to help avoid the feared explosion of piping-hot food all over the kitchen.
Cooking via this speedy method offers not only culinary convenience but also better nutrition, because the high heat and fast cooking allow food to retain nutrients. Pressure cookers also do their part for the environment, offering up to a 70 percent energy saving compared with slower cooking techniques.
The Instant Pot
At the forefront of the pressure cooker revolution is the Instant Pot. Created by a Canadian company, this updated version of the classic machine offers an all-in-one system that allows for pressure cooking, as well as slow cooking, rice cooking, sauteing, steaming and yogurt making.
The Instant Pot is available from various stores and online merchants. It is available in a couple of sizes and models that vary by a few bells and whistles (such as an option with Bluetooth capabilities). Retail prices range from $160 to $230.
In the Kitchen
Put your Instant Pot to good use to save time and boost nutrition. Whip up batches of steel-cut oats and quinoa in a fraction of the time they would take to cook on the stove (like less than 10 minutes). Large and tough cuts of meat, like chuck roasts and pork shoulder, that usually take hours to tenderize can be headed to the table in less than an hour. You can cook dried beans with or without presoaking in about 20 minutes and create chicken broth in an hour or less. If you can make room for another gadget in your kitchen arsenal, an electric pressure cooker offers some appealing recipe options.
Recipes to Try
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.