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:

  1. The cooking chamber (the inner pot) is fully insulated, so the cooker does not need to exert as much energy to heat up.
  2. 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.

Preserve Food’s Appearance and Taste

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.

Eliminate Harmful Microorganisms

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.

Additional Benefits

Instant Pot features preset Smart Programs for common pressure cooking tasks:

  • Rice
  • Multigrain
  • Congee/Porridge
  • Sauté/Browning
  • Soup
  • Meat & Stew
  • Beans & Chili
  • Steaming
  • Slow Cook
  • Keep warm
  • Yogurt, with Pasteurize, Ferment, and Jiu Niang-making settings

Intelligent Programming

These one-touch programs have been dutifully tested and carefully refined through thousands of experiments. Each preset has been designed to produce consistent cooking results. Even more, most programs can be further refined. If you prefer a longer or shorter cook time, the Instant Pot will remember your preference and save the adjustment for next time.

Automatic Cooking

Instant Pots provide a fully automated cooking process, timing each step of the cooking task. The cookers will switch from pre-heating, to the cook cycle, and then into Keep Warm once cooking completes. Because the process is automated, there is no need to watch the cooking time or monitor the temperature levels. You are no longer tied to the kitchen to make an amazing meal!

Planning Meals with Delayed Cooking

The Instant Pot can also delay cooking by up to 24 hours, allowing you to plan meals ahead of time. Long-term delay is useful for foods that do not require refrigeration, like potatoes, beans, and rice.

Short-term delay start cooking (less than 2 hours) is helpful when preparing meals. For instance, preprogramming your main course frees up a ton of time to create appetizers, sides, and dessert. Most importantly, you don’t actually have to be in the kitchen to produce a healthy, tasty meal!

Because Instant Pot can reduce cooking times by up to 70%, it also works wonders to get dinner on the table in a hurry.

Flavor-Packed Food

Pressure cookers cook evenly and deeply, and thanks to the advanced technology of the embedded microprocessor, cooking cycles are precisely controlled to prepare delicious meals time after time.

Meals are sealed into an airtight environment for cooking, so vitamins, nutrients, flavors and aromas remain trapped inside the ingredients. This allows flavors to develop quickly and with greater depth than when using other cooking methods.

Tender & Tasty

Instant Pot really flexes its muscle when cooking tougher cuts of meat. Pressure cooking allows tough proteins and intramuscular fats to break down quickly, resulting in tender, fall-off-the-bone meat. Moreover, pressure cooked beans and legumes are firm yet supple, and do not need to be soaked before cooking.

Consistent Results

The Instant Pot’s intelligent programming ensures cooking is consistent regardless of the volume of food. Whether you want to cook one egg or one dozen eggs, the cooking duration will not change.

Instant Pot electric pressure cookers are eco-friendly!

Compared to cooking with other appliances, such as roasting in an oven or boiling/steaming on a stovetop, Instant Pot boasts energy savings of up to 70%.

  • Pressure cookers reach temperatures above boiling, and the higher the temperature, the faster the food will cook. Less cooking time means less energy consumed, and the Instant Pot can reduce the cooking time by up to 70%.
  • Pressure cooking requires less water than is used for other cooking methods— for instance, about 75% less water is used when steaming in an Instant Pot. This reduces the energy consumption in making a meal, as significantly less water needs to be heated to boiling.
  • The cooker base is fully insulated, with two layers of air pockets between the inner pot and the brushed stainless steel exterior, so although the internal temperature will be higher than boiling, the cooker base will be safe to touch, even during long cooking processes.
  • The Instant Pot’s unparalleled insulation pairs perfectly with its intelligent monitoring system to prevent wasteful energy consumption. The cooker only heats the inner pot to maintain a certain pressure level, so it does not need to constantly exert energy in maintaining heat. During the cook cycle, the element only needs to engage about 60% of the time.
  • All of this adds up in the summertime! The Instant Pot won’t heat your home with the same ferocity that an oven might, which means less energy spent on air conditioning.

When people think about stovetop pressure cookers, images are conjured of clunky, rattling, steam-spewing monsters. In stark contrast, the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker is sleek, airtight, and virtually inaudible during cooking. By locking in aromas and flavors, food tastes amazing, and, it won’t heat up your house like an oven might— a bonus during summer months!

Even more, with preprogrammed cooking options and over 10 safety mechanisms, you can literally set it and walk away. The Instant Pot’s intelligent programming ensures food is cooked quickly, deeply, and evenly, so you can spend time doing the things you enjoy.

Another significant benefit to note is that Instant Pot helps to keep your kitchen clean. Cooking with Instant Pot not only reduces your cleanup to one pot, it reduces the number of appliances in your kitchen. This may save money and will definitely save time.

Minimize clutter and keep your kitchen organized with Instant Pot!

What is Electric Pressure Cooking

What is Pressure Cooking?

Pressure cooking is fun, fast, and easy— once you understand how it works.

Food and liquid are sealed into an airtight vessel, and no steam is released before the pre-set pressure is reached. The boiling point of water increases as the pressure increases, so pressure built up inside the cooker allows the liquid inside to boil at a temperature higher than 100°C / 212°F.

Pressure cooking is often used to simulate the effects of long braising or simmering, but in a much shorter period of time.

A Brief History of the Pressure Cooker

Believe it or not, the concept of pressure cooking has been around for over 350 years. The first known pressure cooker was invented by French physicist, Denis Papin, in 1679. However, pressure cooking only became popular during World War II, when people realized how much fuel could be saved by the quick cookers. Now, pressure cookers are a common household appliance, saving time and energy in the kitchen.

Conventional pressure cookers were designed to be used on a stovetop, with a steam regulator, safety valve and pressure-activated locking mechanism to provide protection against overheating and the risk of explosion. When a stovetop pressure cooker reaches the target pressure, the steam inside pushes the steam regulator up, which regulates excess pressure. This is why conventional pressure cookers generate that loud rattling noise when pressurized.

Inventing the Electric Pressure Cooker

The electric pressure cooker is an ingenious 20th century invention. Historians are divided about the specifics, but Chinese scientist, Yong-Guang Wang, filed the first electric pressure cooker patent on January 9th, 1991 (patent No. ZL91100026.7). This patent is currently owned by the world’s No. 1 electric pressure cooker manufacturer, Midea Group.

Electric pressure cookers consist of a pressure cooking container (inner pot), temperature & pressure sensors, and an electric heating element. Heating is controlled by a built-in microprocessor based on the readings of the pressure and temperature sensors. This whole process forms a “closed loop control system” in control engineering terms, a principle similar to cruise-control in cars.

Essentially, the cook puts all the ingredients into the inner pot, and specifies the pressure cooking duration—the electric pressure cooker does the rest!

The Next Generation

Over time, leading manufacturers began developing cooking “profiles”. By using various combinations of temperature, pressure and cooking time, pre-set programming emerged for simmering, steaming, braising, slow cooking, warming, and rice cooking. This enhancement lead to the next generation of electric pressure cookers: “3rd generation” programmable smart cookers.

How Electric Pressure Cookers Work

Electric pressure cookers are comprised of three main components:

  •  The inner pot
  •  The cooker base
  • The lid

The Inner Pot

A removable vessel for cooking. When heated, the liquid inside the inner pot boils and turns into steam. Without an escape route, the build-up of steam creates pressure.

The official Instant Pot inner pot is made using high quality 304 food grade (18/8) stainless steel, and features a sturdy three-ply base with an aluminum core for even heat distribution.

The Cooker Base

The cooker base houses the microprocessor, pressure and temperature sensors, a heating element, and the control panel.

The microprocessor is the heart of the 3rd generation electric pressure cooker, and works with the built-in sensors to monitor and automatically regulate the cooker’s pressure & temperature based on the smart program selected.

Periodically engaging the heating element to maintain a stable temperature and level of pressure creates a ‘positive feedback’ loop, and results in precise cooking conditions. If any unsafe conditions are detected, the cooker will signal the error with a beep and cut off power to the heating element.

The Lid

Instant Pot lids are made of strong 201 food grade stainless steel, and use steel braces as well as a lid locking mechanism to prevent the lid from being opened while the cooker is pressurized. If the lid is not fully closed, the microprocessor detects this and will cut power to the heating element.

The lid is comprised of several small parts that work in tandem to seal in and regulate pressure:

  • Steam Release: Although these differ in appearance across models, the steam release has two positions— “Venting”, which allows steam to escape, and “Sealed”, which traps steam in the inner pot in order to build pressure. If pressure increases beyond the safe operating range, the excess steam will physically push up the steam release valve to release pressure.
  • Sealing Ring: When the lid is closed and the steam release is set to the “Sealed” position, the lid and the inner pot exert pressure on the sealing ring to create an airtight seal. The sealing ring is made from durable silicone rubber, which allows pressure to safely build once heat is applied.
  • Float Valve & Silicone Cap: When enough pressure builds up in the inner pot, the float valve is pushed up and the silicone cap fully seals the cooker. Once pushed up, the float valve serves as a latch lock and prevents the lid from turning, even when force is applied.
  • Anti-Block Shield: This stainless steel cover prevents food particles from clogging the steam release pipe, facilitating the steady release of steam when venting.

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.

Cooking Program Options

BEAN/CHILI – Using this program results in different doneness levels for beans. For a firmer bean texture, use the Less mode; for a softer bean texture, use the Normal mode; for a very soft bean texture, use the More mode.

MEAT/STEW – Best for cooking large cuts of meat at high pressure. For a soft texture, use the Less mode; for a very tender meat texture, use the Normal mode; for fall-off-the bone texture, use the More mode

MULTIGRAIN – Includes a presoaking time, and is best for brown rice, wild rice, and tougher whole grains. For a firmer texture, use the Less mode; for a normal texture, use the Normal mode; for a softer texture, use the More mode. The More setting includes the pre-soak prior to pressure cooking

PORRIDGE – Use the Less mode for Oatmeal; use the Normal mode for making rice porridge (congee); use the More mode for a porridge / congee that contains a mixture of beans or tougher grains

PRESSURE COOK – This is the setting you’re likely to use the most. The temperature, pressure levels, and cooking times can be controlled through the operation keys on the control panel. Here, press the Pressure Level key to adjust the pressure level and the +/- keys to change the cooking time

RICE – This program cooks on low pressure, and is best used for white rice. For rice with a firmer texture, use the Less mode; for rice with a normal texture, use the Normal mode; for rice with a softer texture, use the More mode.

SAUTÉ – Yes, you can sauté food in your Instant Pot® just as you would in a pan.
Use Less mode for simmering, thickening, reducing liquids and for foods that may burn easily; use Normal mode for searing; use More mode for browning and stir-frying. Remember, the maximum time for sauté is in 30 minute intervals as a safety precaution

SLOW COOK – Use the Less to correspond to a low (8 hour) slow cooker setting; use the Normal mode to correspond to a medium (6 hour) slow cooker setting; use the More mode to correspond to a high (4 hour) slow cooker setting

SOUP/BROTH – Brings soups to a slow simmer, and results in a clear broth. For meatless soups, use the Less mode; for soups with meat, use the Normal mode; for soups that requires longer cook times, such as rich bone broth, use the More mode.

STEAM – For steaming vegetables, use the Less mode; for seafood and fish, use the
Normal mode; for meats, use the More mode. Always use the steam rack to elevate food above the water and use the QR (Quick Release) method to prevent overcooking the food

YOGURT – The Less mode is designed for Jiu Niang, a sweet fermented rice dish; the Normal mode is for fermenting milk when making yogurt, while the More mode is for pasteurizing milk

KEEP WARM – 3 temperatures to maintain food at different serving temperatures

Click here to view the Cooking Programs Options Chart