[Product Review] First impressions of the Instant Pot

The power of social media..I first heard about the Instant Pot from my blogger friend Carole (http://theyumyumfactor.blogspot.ca/). Her IG  feed of dishes made from her Instant Pot were mouth-watering. I found out that I could make mac and cheese, stews, potato salads and creme brulee in the pressure cooker, all done in record timing! Yes, creamy no-stir risotto in 7 minutes. I was sold!

My Instant Pot

My Instant Pot

About the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, 6qt/1000W: 

Instant Pot (http://instantpot.com) is an electric pressure cooker designed by Canadians. From their product brochure:

  • It is the latest 3rd Generation Technology. Stainless Steel Cooking Pot and Exterior
  • Convenience, Simple as Pressing a Button Instant Pot IP-DUO series is a 7-in-1 programmable cooker, built on our best-selling IP-LUX series. IP-DUO combines the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker/porridge maker, steamer, sauté/browning, yogurt maker and warmer. Using the 14 built-in smart programs (Soup, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Sauté, Steam, Rice, Porridge, Multigrain, Slow Cook, Keep-Warm, Yogurt, Pasteurize and Fermented Rice), your favorite dishes are within the reach of pressing a button. Green peas, sweet corn and baby carrots can be steamed in 2 to 3 minutes, fresh or frozen. To make mashed potato, don’t boil potatoes in water for 50 minutes leaching nutrients into the water; steam them in Instant Pot for just 15 minutes. An entrée of chilli or Irish stew can be done within an hour, without you watching over it.
  • The benefits include saving time and energy, preserving nutrients, eliminating harmful micro-organisms in food, and making delicious food.

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With 2 young kids, I wanted to get an appliance to help me cook healthy meals quickly and the Instant Pot has impressed me in many ways so far. Let me tell you about my experience over the last couple of weeks….

Pressure Cooker newbie mistakes: 

I have not used a pressure cooker before and was a little nervous using the Instant Pot at first.

I do not like reading instructions but feel that it is important to read the manual to understand the safety features, the various functions on the pressure cooker and how to properly clean it. I also recommend to read a few recipes before making your first dish. I did not. I tried to steam 2 apples under the “steam” function at 7 minutes under high pressure with about 2.5 cups of water. I was expecting soft pieces of apples but instead the apples turned into mush, and mixed in with the water. I made applesauce instead!  It was perfect for my infant daughter, but the texture was not what I intended.

I didn’t realize that it takes between 10-40 minutes for the pressure cooker to “get to pressure” depending on the size of the content before the cooking timing starts. I thought my instant pot was broken at first when the display counter said “On” but stayed that way for about 10 minutes before the timer began.

As an amateur mistake, when I made a pork bone stock, I didn’t let the pressure come down naturally (natural pressure release) before changing the valve from “sealing” to “venting” and quickly released the valve after the timer was up on the pressure cooker (quick release). With the stock filled to the maximum line, the soup sprayed continuously and uncontrollably on my counter for over 5 minutes.

I recommend buying the America Test Kitchen “Pressure Cooker Perfection” cookbook as there are great tips and tasty recipes that were tried and tested. I have used it as a guideline since.

Making oxtail beef chuck stew in the Instant Pot

Making oxtail beef chuck stew in the Instant Pot

What I love:

  • Flavours of the food!
  • My broths made with bones are incredible with all the nutrients extracted. The bones become soft and porous!
  • Saves me time…a lot of time! The pressure cooker is great for foods that take long to simmer on the stove top. I normally simmer stock for 4 hours on the stove top but I can get flavourful broth in one hour in the pressure cooker. I was able to boil potatoes for my potato salad in just 7 minutes.
  • It is convenient since I can throw a bunch of ingredients in the pressure cooker, set the pressure level and time, and forget about it until it is ready. I do not need to peak at my food.
  • There is no smell. I made fish stock and all the smell was contained within the pressure cooker while cooking.
  • It is portable and I can bring it wherever there is an electric outlet.
  • Once I got used to the functions, it is easy to use.
  • There is a keep warm function, and there is a delay timer setting.
  • There are lots of resources online to answer my pressure cooker questions.
  • I made risotto in less than 20 minutes including getting the Instant Pot up to pressure, which is amazing. I did not have to stir and it was creamy!
  • I have been using it to cook vegetables and fruit for my baby. The nutrients and flavours are locked in.

Instant Pot

Things I need to get used to:

  • Can’t peek at the food while it is cooking to make adjustments.
  • It is not obvious what the simmer or browning option is without reading the instructions.
  • With burnt bits from deglazing the pan, the base was not as easy to clean compared to my Le Creuset pans, even after soaking it in soapy water.
  • When sauteing or browning my food, the oil rises to my ceiling rather than under the hood range.
  • The 6 qt pot is tall but the base is not wide enough for me, which means I cannot steam a lot of vegetables at once. When browning my meats, I need to do them in several batches.

This is a personal preference, but if I am making a full pot of stew, I prefer to use my larger dutch oven to sauté and brown my vegetables/meat, and use the Instant Pot to shorten the overall cooking time, simmer and lock in all the nutrients/flavour. Plus, it is easier to clean my dutch oven.  I know that is not how the pressure cooker is meant to be used, and I have to wash an extra pot, but it works for me.

It won’t replace all my kitchen appliances. I will still cook food on my stove top at the same time I am using the pressure cooker. I may cook rice in my rice cooker while the pressure cooker is on, so that I can get more things done at once.

Chickpeas and acorn soup made by my Instant Pot pressure cooker

Chickpeas and acorn soup made by my Instant Pot pressure cooker

Examples of what I have made and the timing under medium/high pressure: 

  • Steamed apples, pears, brocoli and carrots – 3-4 mins
  • Creamy risotto with fish stock – 7 mins
  • Steamed potatoes-7 minutes
  • Chickpeas (soaked for about 15 minutes prior to cooking) – 8 mins
  • Vegetable soup with pasta, barley and broccoli – 10 mins
  • Pork bone soup with acorn squash, potatoes and barley- 15 mins
  • Vegetable stock – 20 mins
  • Red wine tomato oxtail and chuck stew – 35 mins
  • Pork tenderloin stock- 50 mins
  • Fish stock with lemongrass – 50 mins

Each item took at least 10 minutes to get to pressure and some dishes had a natural release, which adds another 10-15 minutes to the overall cooking time.

Using my Instant Pot

Using my Instant Pot

Overall:

It has changed my life and I don’t know how I lived without my Instant Pot before! Look out for pressure cooker recipes on my blog.

If you are thinking of getting one, you can get it through the Instant Pot Canadian Amazon Store off of “In Search of the Yum Yum Factor” blog.

*This is not a sponsored post.

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