Electric Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Basics

Are you wondering if an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker is worth it? Depending on what and who you cook for, it might be your next favorite kitchen appliance. This simple guide will provide you with instant pot basics while answering common questions about electric pressure cookers which might help you make a decision. Find out more about this innovative kitchen appliance below.

The electric pressure cooker or the Instant Pot craze started a few years ago, and they are still very popular today. The Instant Pot brand is the most popular name of electric pressure cookers, and there are many others. Electric pressure cookers claim to be the fastest cooking device on the market. It not only cuts down on the amount of time needed to prepare healthy meals but also preserves much of the nutrients that traditional cooking methods destroy.

a picture of an instant pot

What is an Electric Pressure Cooker?

An electric pressure cooker is a kitchen appliance that can cook food fast! Pressure cookers were designed to spend less time cooking, yet still produce super flavorful food.

Once you put your food into the inner pot of a pressure cooker and it is sealed, steam builds, the pressure increases, and the temperature rises. The higher temperature shortens the cooking time needed. Since steam pressure does not evaporate, the food that comes out is more moist and flavorful. While it can be intimidating at first, the benefits (and time saved!) of an electric pressure cooker are so worth it, and perfect for the busy cook.

Modern pressure cooking has evolved and many pressure cookers today have become multicookers. This is great; instead of needing multiple appliances, like a rice cooker and a slow cooker, you can use the multicooker for its even a yogurt maker!

How Much Do They Cost?

Electric Pressure cookers range in price, depending on size and features. The 6-quart model, which works well for most home cooks, starts at around $90 and goes up to a little over $200 depending on the features and size — but if you’re after something smaller, like a mini version that is perfect for small families.

Benefits of Owning an Electric Pressure Cooker

Owning an electric pressure cooker is not a necessity, but it’s a nice kitchen appliance to have. It’s super convenient, and can cut your cooking time by as much as 70%! And there are plenty of other benefits to using an Instant Pot or Electric Pressure Cooker:

  • Saves energy: the cooking pot is fully insulated, so it takes less energy to heat up.
  • RetainS nutrients: boiling food can cause vitamins to leach out. The Instant Pot cooks food quickly and evenly, allowing your food to retain up to 90% of water-soluble vitamins.
  • Convenience: cook almost anything, including rice and meat and it’s fast!
  • Saves space: this cooker replaces multiple appliances!

What Can I Cook In It?

You can cook a lot of different foods in an electric pressure cooker, and they are perfect for healthy eating. My favorite things to make in it are steel-cut oats, soups and chilis, and rice. But there are so many other foods you can cook in an electric pressure cooker such as potatoes, boiled eggs, steamed veggies, beans, whole grains, beans, apple sauce, and pasta.

Browse around the internet or pick up an Instant Pot cookbook or two and you might be surprised to see how many things you can cook it an electric pressure cooker.

A pot of stew

What Can’t I Cook in a Pressure Cooker?

Since the pressure cooker is designed to quickly cook foods that typically take longer to cook, it doesn’t make sense to cook fast cooking foods in them. Also, tender cuts of meat are not made for an electric pressure cooker since the meat can overcook and become tough. I also would not recommend burgers or breaded meat either. nor are burgers, and breaded meat.

If you are cooking with dairy, it should be added at the end of the cooking process. Dairy will curdle in an instant pot if it goes through the whole cooking process.

Are Pressure Cookers Hard to Use?

Pressure cookers aren’t that difficult to use as long as you follow the instructions in your manual and be sure to follow recipe instructions carefully.

Modern pressure cookers have a sauté function which is very helpful for making recipes that require the meat to be browned or cooked before adding the remaining ingredients. You can set the pressure cooker to the sauté setting and once the meat is cooked, add whatever else needs to be added and set the pressure cooker to cook.

Depending on the brand and model you get, you’ll find your electric pressure cooker has several cooking modes with adjustable cooking times.

Releasing The Pressure

Releasing the pressure on an electric pressure cooker might sound intimidating, but it really isn’t as long as you follow the instructions in the user’s manual. There are two ways to release pressure from an electric pressure cooker:

Quick Pressure Release : Releases the steam valve as soon as the timer goes off. This will ensure your food is ready to serve faster.

A few things to note when using the quick release function, the seam that immediately releases from the pot is extremely hot. It’s best to turn the steam release valve with an object such as kitchen tongs or a wooden spoon to avoid coming in contact with the steam.

Natural Pressure Release: Takes the longest, but also gives the most flavorful, tender result. The natural release is when you allow the cooker to release steam slowly and cool down by itself once the food is done cooking. This can take up to 30 minutes.

If you can, allow your electric pressure cooker to do a Natural Pressure Release – unless the recipe calls for a Quick Release. You will notice how tender the food is when using Natural Release. It’s just like cooking with a slow cooker, but so much faster!

What Size Electric Pressure Cooker Do I Need?

The size you need depends on how big your family is and what you like to cook. There are so many different models and sizes of electric pressure cookers. They range from small, 3-quart size to large 8-quart size. What size pressure cooker you need depends on how big your family is and how many people you are cooking for.

If you have a family of 4 or more, the 6-quart may be your best bet. Alternatively, If you are cooking for 1 to 4 people, and don’t care for leftovers, the 3-quart electric pressure cooker should be a sufficient size for your needs. If you plan to cook for larger families or want to make things like soup or stock, that you can freeze, then an 8-quart pressure cooker might be worth the extra cost.

Getting Started

Once you have a new Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker, you might be a little intimidated. Don’t worry, there there are some easy steps that you can take to get going. The first thing to do is take it out of the box and thoroughly clean your pressure cooker inside and out.

Once your cooker is clean start out by making something simple such as rice, dry beans, or eggs or you can try a few basic recipes. Once you are ready to try something more advanced, there are plenty of free Electric Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot recipes available online. And there are plenty of electric pressure cooker cookbooks available as well.

How to Clean and Store It

Silicone material can absorb the smell/taste of certain foods, so it’s important to make sure that you are cleaning the sealing ring and the inside of the lid on a regular basis. After washing, store your clean lid upside down or use the lid holder (many models have this option). which will help to minimize any odors.

Do You Really Ned One?

If you’re looking to save time and space in your kitchen, an electric pressure cooker may be the perfect solution. This cooking appliance delivers flavorful food with less cook time, and free recipe ideas are plentiful online. And electric pressure cookers do more than just replace a slow cooker, they also work as rice makers and a yogurt maker, too!

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