Service of Cooking Under Pressure: The Instant Pot

February 7th, 2018

Categories: Cooking, Gadgets, Technology

Photo: instantpot.com

The burns on my mother’s hands from an exploding pressure cooker—and going with her to the doctor who was caring for the injury–are among my earliest memories. While I love time-saving cooking appliances and gadgets, I’ve never once been tempted to go near anything that operates like that.

I was drawn to Ellen Byron’s Wall Street Journal article, “Why Is America’s Anxiety Rising? The Instant Pot,” to read what, if anything was new about this new iteration. Seems the Instant Pot does everything: steams, slow-cooks, sautés, pressure cooks and makes yogurt, rice, cakes and preserves. According to Byron, last year Amazon “delivered Instant Pots to 27,000 U.S. Zip Codes.”

Photo: successfulhomemakers.com

Byron’s title alludes to something else it does: It makes its owners nervous—for good reason– even though she said the pot comes with 10 safety mechanisms.

“Double Insight Inc., the company that makes Instant Pot, says common mishaps include overfilling the machine or releasing the pressure too quickly when cooking foods that expand,” wrote Byron. The company recommends that owners read the manual.

Her first story confirmed my apprehension: This pot is not for me. She wrote about an IT specialist who tried to clean the pot he burned while cooking spaghetti. He followed instructions to add water, put the pot on “pressure cooker high” but when he “did a quick release,” hot red sauce splashed all around from ceiling to cabinets, on him and the floor.

Photo: kittydeschanel.com

Another Instant Pot owner in Byron’s article was afraid to open the box because the gadget has so many buttons and returned the item. She eventually bought another one and went through trauma before making stew with it for the first time. She was petrified to release the pressure valve and even though nothing happened when she did, and the stew was “pretty good,” she felt “overwhelmed” and hadn’t used it again. And after all that, is “pretty good” worth all the sweat?

A retired chef who for years used a traditional pressure cooker ended up with Thai coconut shrimp bisque that “resembled cheese curds.”

There are “200 groups devoted to the device.” The largest one includes 1.2 million people in the company’s Facebook group. After yogurt boiled into the machine, another user asked her fellow groupies what to do and was advised to clean with Q-tips. Her pot works “though it smells like burned milk.”

Photo: presurecookrecipes.com

Another owner was intimidated by the manual and took a few days to recover. “There were triumphs: hard-boiled eggs, chicken, pork carnitas and chocolate cheesecake—as well as two pots of burned rice, an overcooked pork butt, a sour Key Lime cheesecake and a Christmas Day crème brûlée that looked more like a side of cottage cheese.” One said a prayer after assembling the ingredients for beef barley soup. When she “turned the quick-release valve, soup shot across her kitchen, hitting the cupboards, curtains and window.” She returned her pot.

Do you have an Instant Pot? Are you tempted to get one? Do you think the gizmo may be too good to be true? What’s wrong with pots and pans?

Photo: simplyhappyfoodie.com

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15 Responses to “Service of Cooking Under Pressure: The Instant Pot”

  1. Penne Leary Said:

    Penny wrote on Facebook: I bought one and have not used it yet. Seems like a lot of work to cook something

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Penne,

    Your experience of hesitating before using matches many of the folks in the reporter’s story. Leaving hot things plugged in and working while I’m at work is also something I can’t do. I don’t even leave the dryer on if I’m gone.

  3. Kim Kudasik Said:

    Kim wrote on Facebook: I have one and am obsessed with it! I use it at least once or twice a week. What would take all day in a slow cooker takes 30 minutes. It’s amazing!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Kim,

    You are amazing and one of the most adventuresome people I’ve ever known. For scaredey-cats like moi, however…..shudder!

  5. Donna Boyle Schwartz Said:

    Donna wrote on Facebook: We already have a pressure cooker–and we rarely use that, except for very specific items. So, not interested in an instant pot. (I’m with you on not leaving things running while we’re out!)

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Donna,

    Is there anything that a pressure cooker does better than a heavy iron pot, a low flame and a few hours to make a rich stew or pot roast?

  7. Lucan Said:

    Admittedly, being both technologically inept and a slow learner, I stay away from gadgets. I’ve never used a pressure cooker, and at this point, never will. If I wish to eat something which must be cooked in a pressure cooker, I’ll do it in a restaurant, besides in tight spaces such as are found in New York apartments, where are we going to store the thing?

  8. Donna Boyle Schwartz Said:

    Donna wrote on Facebook: Well, we used to use it to make corned beef…but now we’ve started using the crock pot for that. As for stew and roasts–low and slow in the cast iron is the way to go!

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Donna,

    I make corned beef in a heavy pot and use the water to cook the cabbage. I make it on a weekend late in the afternoon so it’s got plenty of time to simmer before dinner and don’t feel the need to speed up the process. We eat the leftovers on work nights.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucan,

    If I really want something, regardless of space constraints, I make room for it. Lucky for me I don’t want an Instant Pot!

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Donna wrote on Facebook: Donna Boyle Schwartz We typically just cook the corned beef in the crockpot all day, and then make it into Reubens for as long as it lasts…which isn’t that long!

  12. Lucrezia Said:

    Pressure cookers have a well earned bad reputation, and I’ve gotten rid of all such gifts. This so called “Instant Pot” appears to be one more “Instant Disaster,” conjured up by just another sadist who has it in for cooks!

    Anyone inviting this terrorist pot into their kitchen, is in for a blast! It offers a fine opportunity for ridding oneself of an unwanted friend, possibly in more ways than one……

  13. Kathleen Said:

    My mother had a similar experience but without the burns. She never used the pressure cooker again, and neither have I!

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Strong words but I agree…why look for trouble? If it’s a cold winter’s day, cooking something that takes time warms the kitchen. What’s the point of risking an accident? Plan to cook something quick during the week and save the weekend for making something special in a big iron pot.

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Kathleen,

    I’m with you!

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