The Instant Pot® Unmasked!
Welcome to the Instant Pot®.
To some, it’s a merely glorified pressure cooker with some built-in programs.
To others, a Godsend!
Glorified pressure cooker or Godsend? Which is it? That is what we’re going to explore.
Is it “Instant”?
Yes and No.
As with all pressure cooking devices, this appliance cooks food faster than conventional cooking means. The combination of high heat and pressure means that food that would take hours to cook in the conventional way, can be done in mere minutes. So, YES, comparatively speaking, this is “Instant.”
However, as with all appliances, there’s a heating up period, and a cooling down period, both of which add to the overall clock times. Typically, the heating up period can range from under five minutes to over ten minutes. Similarly, there are two recommended cool-down techniques: the Quick Release (QR) method, where immediately after the cooking cycle, the steam vent is opened, and the pressure and steam allowed to vent quickly. The other method, is the Natural Pressure Release (NPR) method. At the end of the cooking cycle, the Instant Pot® is turned off and allowed to sit for ten minutes or longer. The pressure drops as the vessel cools. At the end of the NPR cycle, the vent is opened to release any residual pressure and steam. So, NO, comparatively speaking, this is NOT “Instant” by any stretch of the imagination.
Let me give you an example.
We’re going to cook a food that the instructions say will take three minutes to cook. The full cycle consists of:
a. (QR method) A five minute heating period, followed by a three minute cooking period, followed by a rapid pressure release. Total time eight minutes. Pretty fast, but not “Instant.”
b. (NPR method) A five minute heating period, followed by a three minute cooking period, followed by a ten minute natural pressure release. Total time eighteen minutes. Pretty fast, but still not “Instant.”
From a convenience point of view, this amazing device can be considered a Godsend. A major feature, unheralded, is the ability to “dump and forget” a large class of foods. Merely add the ingredients to the liner, close the lid, close the vent, press the appropriate buttons, and walk away. Viola! Like magic, the food is cooked to perfection in “mere seconds”!
That, in and of itself to many people constitutes a Godsend! I agree.
The convenience factor is very high, in my opinion. The fact that I have to wait for it to heat up, then wait again while the system cools down, is merely something that is inherent in the appliance. After all, if I’m cooking something in the oven I will have to preheat the oven, and that takes time. I don’t begrudge the time.
So, is it a hardship to wait while the device warms up? No.
Is it a hardship to have to wait for the appliance to cool down? In my humble opinion, NO, again.
To those of you who have embraced this technology and its implications, you know what I’m talking about.