BENEFITS OF PRESSURE COOKING
Saving Time & Energy
Electric pressure cookers are energy efficient kitchen appliances, second only to microwaves. There are two major factors that contribute to Instant Pot’s energy efficiency:
- The cooking chamber (the inner pot) is fully insulated, so the cooker does not need to exert as much energy to heat up.
- Pressure cookers require significantly less liquid than traditional cooking methods, so it will boil faster.
Compared to other cooking methods, such as baking, boiling, or steaming, pressure cooking can reduce your cook time & energy usage by up to 70%.
Retain Vitamins & Nutrients
Boiling (as well as regular steaming) can cause water-soluble vitamins to leech out of food, diminishing their nutritional value. Pressure cookers cook food quickly, deeply and evenly, and may allow foods to retain up to 90% of those water-soluble vitamins.
Preserving Nutrients & Cook Tasty Food
Cooking in open containers (yes, even ones with a lid) exposes food to oxygen and heat, which can lead to dulled colors and diminished flavor. Pressure cooking saturates food with steam, allowing the retention of bright colors and phytochemicals. Similarly, the airtight design enables flavors to develop faster, and more profoundly.
Eliminating Harmful Micro-Organisms in Food
By creating an environment that permits water to boil at higher than 100°C (212°F), pressure cookers are exceptional in their multi-faceted ability to effectively destroy harmful bacteria.
Use it as a sterilization tool for jars or baby bottles, or for treating water.
Pressure cookers can also be used to neutralize various naturally occurring toxins, such as phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin found in red kidney beans. Phytohaemagglutinin poisoning can occur from ingesting as little as 5 undercooked kidney beans, but pressure cooking for 10 minutes has been proven to reduce haemagglutinating units (the toxic agent) to safe levels.
Another example are aflatoxins, a mold-based mycotoxin that can occur when rice, wheat, corn, and beans are improperly stored and exposed to humidity. Boiling alone does not fully destroy aflatoxins, but a 2006 study by Korean researchers found that pressure cooking temperatures were sufficient to reduce aflatoxin concentrations to safe levels.
HOW SMART COOKING PROGRAMS WORK
The Instant Pot electric pressure cookers can achieve optimal cooking results every time due to advanced microprocessor technology. The embedded microprocessor facilitates the use of Smart Programs, a set of extensively tested, pre-programmed cooking instructions. Based on the type of food being cooked, Smart Programs adjust and control all four cooking parameters: heating intensity, temperature, pressure and duration.
Heating intensity refers to the amount of heat output generated by the heating element. The heating element controls heat output by switching on and off intermittently to manage the temperature at the bottom of the inner pot. The cooker’s ability to lower the heating intensity prevents food from scorching the bottom. Smart Programs manage heating intensity based on the type of food.
For instance, heating intensity builds slowly and gradually on the “Soup” Smart Program, but on “Steam,” heating intensity is fast and steep, as it is expected that steamed foods will be placed on a steam rack or in a steamer basket and will not make contact with the inner pot.
Temperature is the ambient temperature in the inner pot throughout the cooking process. Smart Programs reach a peak temperature, then either maintain that temperature or lower it based on the program.
For instance, before cooking begins on “Multigrain,” food is softened with a 45-minute warm water soak at 60°C (140°F).
Pressure is achieved by boiling liquid until enough steam builds up in the inner pot to cause pressurization. The thermodynamics of gas indicate that in ideal cases, the product of the pressure and volume of a gas is directly proportional to the temperature. Since the volume in the cooking pot is a constant, we can consider the pressure being linearly related to the temperature of the gas, and to a large extent (with delayed effect) to the temperature of the liquid content.
Depending on the model, Instant Pot electric pressure cookers may reach the following pressure levels:
- Low – 5.8 ~ 7.2 psi
- High – 10.2 ~ 11.6 psi
- Max – 15 psi
Cooking duration is the time it takes for food to cook once the cooker has pressurized. Cooking duration may be affected depending on the size of the food item, whether the food is fresh or frozen, and in the case of rice, the volume.
- Size – The thickness of a food will impact how long it will take to cook through. For instance, when preparing a 1” thick steak, the cooking duration may take between 10-15 minutes, depending on your preferred doneness.
- Frozen – When cooking a frozen block of meat, the cooking duration may need to be increased by 50% or more. When thinking of that 1” thick steak, adding 50% would bring the cooking duration up to 15-22 minutes, depending on your preferred doneness.
- Volume – The cooking duration for most food items will not change based on the amount of food in the inner pot. For instance, whether you want to cook 1 carrot or 1 bushel of carrots, the cooking duration will remain the same. However, the time it takes your cooker to heat up and pressurize will increase.
The exception for this is the Rice Smart Program, which automatically adjusts the cooking duration based on the volume of rice in the inner pot. The default cooking duration has been calibrated for medium- and long-grain white rice.