The Instant Pot is a multi-cooker that has managed to get into the hearts and kitchens of Americans and cooks all around the world. The question is, are they just a fad or do they genuinely offer something to the home kitchen and cooking in general?
Cooking has become a hobby that millions enjoy. Many people do not cook just for eating but it is an enjoyable pastime that brings family and friends together. TV has countless celebrity chefs and other cooking programs to entertain and advise on cooking methods. Because of this, dozens if not hundreds of cooking books and gadgets have been launched. Some of these are indeed useful and well thought out but others are just gimmicks that no cook would waste their time with.
Where does the Instant Pot sit with these?
What functions does an Instant Pot have?
Before you can decide on whether one of these appliances is useful you would need to know the functions it has and how it performs. The Instant Pot comes in many sizes and with different functions but here are ones you will most likely see on the appliance:
- Pressure cook
- Slow cook
- Air fryer – with attachment
These functions all add something to the Instant Pot but how useful are they?
Sous-vide in the Instant Pot
The sous-vide function allows home cooks to replicate the fashionable method for cooking and is good for tough cuts of meat along with fish. The cooking method traps nutrients and vitamins which add to the health benefits of fish making it a good way to cook.
This is at the very heart of the Instant Pot. While Corrie Cooks has many tips for sous-vide cooking it is the pressure cooker that makes the Instant Pot so popular with many people. Pressure cooking means that your food is cooked at a temperature above boiling point and under great pressure. This combination of steam, heat, and pressure cooks the food far quicker than it would be normally by roasting or grilling for instance.
The cooking times are reduced by about two-thirds and this means less electricity is used also, making it popular with environmentalists. Eating out regularly can have some negative effects on the body so being able to cook quickly at home means less temptation and a healthier diet.
At the other end of the spectrum is the slow-cooker function. This lets the user make meals that lend themselves to a longer cooking time. For instance, tough pieces of meat, stews, or chili that taste better over longer cooking times.
If you eat a lot of yogurt then this may be a function that excites you. Surprisingly, the Instant Pot is capable of making Greek yogurt at home for less than store-bought versions.
Sauteing and air frying
This is where the Instant Pot drops some points. Because of the nature of the Instant Pot and that it generally lends itself to healthy cooking it doesn’t need oil and is not good for frying. It has a saute function but some people find it lacking slightly. The other option is to finish food under a broiler or buy the Air Fryer attachment. This lid pops on top of the pot and produces food that looks and tastes fried without the need for oil.
This is a newer function and simply lets the user control the cooking and set programs through WiFi. It sends a message to your phone to let you know the cooking has finished. It probably isn’t the best way to cook eggs but the WiFi function can let you set the cooking time for meals while you are at work.
Is the Instant Pot worth it?
There is no doubt that the Instant Pot has a range of functions and can cook food very well and healthily. It is environmentally friendly and energy-efficient and needs no cooking oil added making it easier to clean and better for you.
It can cook eggs, rice, bread, cakes and even make tasty summer drinks, and speed up home wine production. Whether it is worth getting will depend on how much you would use it for and how often. For many people, it will help in preparing a meal the whole family can sit down to eat and for others, it will save them time.
The cooker also has functions for cooking rice and keeping food warm as well as the other ones listed above. As new developments happen the Instant Pot will likely gain new functions or accessories but at the heart of the appliance is a pressure cooker. If you want to cook healthy food promptly so you can enjoy other activities then it is ideal. While it probably won’t take over too many commercial kitchens it is no gimmick and may encourage many to start cooking as a new hobby.