Monday, August 11, 2014

Why I Love My Instant Pot

A long time ago I had an electronic pressure cooker that I loved and used until it died. I went without for several years, then the Instant Pot came to my attention and I decided to give it a try. We had always preferred pressure cooked beans to slow cooked beans, and this one had some unique features that I thought would be beneficial to us.

(I have this one but there is a newer model now. Not an affiliate link.)

For one, it has a stainless steel inner cooking pot, which means I can use it on the stove.  I do this by mashing our leftover beans in the pot directly and then covering and refrigerating it until the next day, then heating the leftover beans on the stove. This saves washing a dish (or several, since we would have to wash the Instant Pot, the storage container, and the pot used to reheat the beans), which to my boys is a major plus! I could also use the pot on the stove to sauté vegetables for a recipe, but I don't need to as the Instant Pot has a sauté setting. I really like the sauté setting as I can make my famous split pea soup all in one pot and one appliance. One downside of most slow cookers to me is that vegetables need to be sautéed in a separate pan and then be added to the slow cooker. It's a minor inconvenience, however, and I wouldn't let it stop you from using a slow cooker.

I love the keep warm feature on the Instant Pot; when my food finishes cooking it switches to keep warm. My slow cooker had the ability to cook at a specific setting (high or low) for a set number of hours (6 or 8 for high, 8 or 10 for low), but it then switched off. One thing we like to do is cook beans for our noon time main meal, then keep them on the warm setting for another 4-5 hours and eat them again at supper time. I also use the keep warm setting when serving a crowd buffet style.

Best of all, it is a pressure cooker, not only a slow cooker. That means I can have the convenience of set it and forget slow cooking, or the speed of pressure cooking. I can now decide at 10AM that we would like beans for our main meal, and have them ready to eat at 12PM, including the natural slow pressure release.

(The Instant Pot doesn't cook at full high pressure, so some recipes do need to be adapted. I pressure cook pinto beans using the Beans setting and leaving it at 30 minutes, and they are perfect every time.)

My Instant Pot was $120, but has already more than paid for itself; I use it multiple times weekly. I explained a bit about how I save money with an electronic pressure cooker in this post here.

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