If you like the benefits of home cooked meals but don’t have time to actually cook, it is very likely that you’ve thought about buying a pressure cooker – also called instant pot. As you may deduce from the last title, cooking times are significantly reduced with this modern appliance. But there’s more than just the time saved, you will be making food taste good without losing their vitamins.
Pressure cookers began to gain popularity in the second half of the 20th century. Along with technological advances came flexible seals, an “invention” thought of to maintain heat and pressure and prevent accidents. As a result of years of research, instant pots today offer speed and great security, as we will see below.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best instant pots on the market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about instant pots/pressure cookers
- 3.1 What is an instant pot exactly?
- 3.2 How does a pressure cooker work?
- 3.3 What are the advantages and disadvantages of using an instant pot?
- 3.4 How did pressure cookers come about?
- 3.5 What is the difference between a pressure cooker and an instant pot?
- 3.6 What measures should be followed to avoid accidents with instant pots?
- 4 Purchase Criteria
- 5 Summary
- The instant pot has is a sealed pot with a valve that controls the steam pressure inside. Also known as “pressure cookers”, they cook food 50 to 70 percent faster than conventional cookers.
- This type of appliance saves energy, money and time. In addition, it ensures that foods retain their full flavour and essential nutrients.
- It is important to consider the materials the pressure cooker is made out of before deciding on a particular item. Safety is also an important element.
Ranking: The best instant pots on the market
Here are the top five pressure cookers you’ll find on the market. All of them stand out for their quality, but each one of them also offers its own unique features and characteristics, as you will see for yourself.
No. 1: Instant Pot, Electric Pressure Cooker, 10-in-1, Stainless Steel
Made of 18/10 stainless steel, the Instant Pot pressure cooker has a capacity with a range from 4-12 quart. This one appliance replaces 10 common kitchen appliances; pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker, saute/searing, steamer, warmer, and sterilizer. It is also certified with 11 safety features which include; steam release, anti-block shield, safety lid lock and automatic temperature control – to name a few.
Reviewers describe it as easy to use and “super convenient for people who work full time and have little time to prepare healthy home cooked meals.” The average reported time to prepare one full meal is 35 minutes. Even the cleaning is quick and easy since the cooking pot, lid and steam rack are all dishwasher safe.
No. 2: Breville, The Fast/Slow Multi-Cooker
Breville is a Canadian company that has created a truly unique and well-rounded appliance. Their Fast Slow Pro, is a multi-cooker with pressure and slow cook menus that automatically adjusts time, temperature and pressure between fast and slow cooking. Dual sensors at the top and bottom monitor ingredients for more accurate temperature and pressure control, while the hands-free steam release automatically varies across foods to maximize flavour and texture.
This appliance comes with 11 pressure cook settings plus a custom setting to suit your favourite recipes. High or low slow cook settings from 2-12 hours and a keep warm function that turns on after cooking to make sure food is ready to serve when you are. It comes with all the standard safety features and accessories. Buyers seem to be very happy with their purchase despite the price tag, “it surely is expensive, but you get what you pay for and this is as good as it gets.”
No. 3: COSORI Premium 8-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker
This multi-cooker combines 8 kitchen appliances in 1: use it as a slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté pan, yoghurt maker, steamer, warmer, pressure cooker and hot pot. It can even be used to make eggs or bake cakes. It is made with a food-grade stainless steel inner pot: 3-ply bottom for even heat distribution.
It comes with several accessories like a tempered glass lid for slow cooking, extra silicone sealing ring and a measuring cup, among other things. This product also comes with a two year warranty and lifetime support. Buyers refer to this cooker as a “wonderful and affordable product with a premium look and feel.
No. 4: Presto, 4-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker
This Presto 4-Quart appliance is chosen primarily by people making small amounts of food for each meal. This is a simple option with a strong, heavy, aluminum gauge for quick, even heating. Conveniently, the pressure regulator maintains the proper cooking pressure automatically. This product includes a cooling rack and a complete 64-page recipe book.
Buyers report its value for money to be excellent. It has also been reviewed as easy to assemble and clean with a remarkably easy and effective locking system. “Definitely Big Bang for your buck!”
No. 5: T-fal, 92122C 22-Quart Pressure Cooker
This appliance offers great value to people who wish to cook in large quantities at one time. This T-fal appliance features a remarkable capacity of 22 quarts. It holds 7 quart-size jars. It also allows for variables in pressure controls and its made of aluminum.
With its minimalist and clean look it is safe and easy to use. Buyers of this appliance are overwhelmingly happy with their purchase.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about instant pots/pressure cookers
There are many types of pressure cookers on the market, so pay close attention to their features when making your choice. Size, energy savings when cooking, materials and, of course, price, are fundamental aspects that will influence you final decision. In this next section we answer the most frequently asked questions when users are trying to find the right product.
What is an instant pot exactly?
Also called pressure cooker, this appliance that allows you to cook food considerably faster. The process involves pressure, volume and temperature. As the pressure increases and the volume remains constant, the temperature can rise above 100º C.
The three aspects of pressure cookers achieve cooking times lower than a normal pot.
How does a pressure cooker work?
An instant pot is a sealed pot with a valve that controls the vapour pressure inside. When the pot heats up, the liquid inside forms vapour which increases the pressure.
This high-pressure steam has two effects:
- Increases the boiling point of the water in the pot
- The rise in pressure extracts moisture from the food.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using an instant pot?
Pressure cookers have many benefits, but its most valued aspect is the speed at which it cooks, thus significantly reducing cooking times. Beyond that, there are other aspects you will have to take into account when using this appliance. Check out the table below to see the advantages and possible disadvantages:
|Cooks food 50 to 70 percent faster than a conventional pot||Requires learning a whole new way of cooking. Recipes must be modified because cooking times vary significantly.|
|Retains more nutrients due to how fast the food is cooked||Checking on the food is not possible. If you open the lid, the pressure is released, to continue, you would have to start over.|
|Saves up to 75 percent energy compared to a conventional cooker||Difficult to cook with ingredients that have different cooking times, you will have to release pressure from the cooker, extract the food and build up pressure again to finish cooking.|
|Food tastes better because the nutrients are concentrated||You must follow the cooking times so that the ingredients are not overcooked. Most of today’s express cookware includes a manual of recommended cooking times. Today’s express cookware is safer than ever. Most express pots incorporate various safety features to prevent accidents. You must carefully read the instruction manual to keep your instant pot in good condition and avoid unforeseen circumstances.|
How did pressure cookers come about?
In 1679, the French physicist Denis Papin invented the “steam digester” to reduce the cooking time of food. This first attempt did not succeed and it was in the twentieth century when the first patents for “canning sealers” were filed in the U.S. From these two concepts came the pressure packaging.
- In 1938, the German Alfred Vischler presents the “Flex-Seal Speed Cooker” in New York. However, the product that actually caught the attention of housewives was the pressure cooker “Presto”, this appliance was presented a year later at the same fair in New York.
- The Spanish patent of the zaragozano José Alix Martínez, filed in 1919, did not achieve the expected success and the “instant pot” did not prosper in Spain.
- The 1939 World Expo in New York succeeded in extending the use of pressure cookers as a result of the “Presto” device. From this moment on, domestic appliance manufacturers begin to appear, both in America and in Europe.
What is the difference between a pressure cooker and an instant pot?
Instant pots and pressure cookers are exactly the same thing, although with different denominations. An instant pot is still the same, but it is a more evolved model. They do not usually include the classic rotary valve, but they do include strong safety elements to maintain the pressure inside the appliance.
- In general, instant pots close when the lid is rotated over the body of the cooker, so that the body and handles of the lid match.
- They usually incorporate two cooking levels based on a pressure indicator.
- Actually, instant pots are the same as traditional pressure cookers. The key difference is in the technological evolution of the model.
What measures should be followed to avoid accidents with instant pots?
Improper use of instant pots can cause tragedies in a home. It is necessary to follow the recommendations of the experts. Therefore, in this section, we show you the measures to follow to avoid terrible accidents:
- Keep the steam outlet valve clean. You must prevent food from obstructing the outlet, it is advisable to check its condition before use.
- Avoid overfilling. You should not fill the pot completely with food. Experts advise not to exceed two-thirds filling. With some foods it is even advisable not to exceed half the capacity of the pressure cooker. Nor can it be empty of liquid, there must be at least 200 ml (ml) of water.
- Don’t be impatient. Do not try to open the instant pot as soon as the cooking time is over. You have to wait for it to cool down because it keeps tremendous pressure inside for a while. Open it when the valve is fully lowered. Abrupt temperature changes are also not recommended. Don’t put it under the tap and just wait.
- Reduce the temperature. It is necessary to lower the heat intensity when the valve has already risen. If you do not, the pressure will rise excessively and could cause an explosion.
- Change sealing rubbers frequently. Constant use wears out certain parts of the pressure cooker like the sealing rubbers. It is important that you change them frequently to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Keep the instant pot under constant supervision. The pressure cooker should always be under supervision while cooking. Under no circumstances leave the fire on and leave the room.
- Care for the appliance. Finally, it is important not to use the instant pot if there is a leak or the appliance lid does not fit properly.
In order to choose the best instant pot it is important to follow some criteria that will facilitate you purchase decision. In this section we show you things you must consider before you make a decision. Expect this to be a ‘mini guide’ that will help you determine quality and price. We delve into the following elements because they are the most important you should consider when looking at instant pots.
- Materials and Thickness
- Pot Base
- Pressure Indicator
- Warranty and Accessories
Materials and Thickness
High quality, coarse gauge steel is the most important criterion to look for. No matter how positive the characteristics or components, they will be of no use without quality materials. In this sense, we are lucky because many manufacturers of kitchen products use quality materials by default.
The pressure generated inside the instant pot is very high and we should not bargain with materials because we also bargain with their resistance. It is therefore advisable to opt for stainless steel pots. They maintain their conditions well, without deforming with time and use.
The bottom of the pressure cooker should be made of stainless steel with three layers. Not all stainless steel is the same. Look on the label or bottom seal for “18/10 stainless steel” (a composition of 18% chromium and 10% nickel) which indicates the composition of the metal. Chromium and nickel add the following advantages:
- Corrosion Resistance. Stainless steel must include at least 10.5% chromium to be considered stainless. A greater amount of chromium increases its durability.
- Shine. Nickel works to increase the protective layer that forms chromium and also adds shine to the appliance.
The valve of the instant pot is essential for the steam to escape, but it also indicates the pressure inside. You should look for an item that reaches 15 psi (15 pounds of steam per inch), the appropriate standard for most express cookware. Make sure that the selected model is capable of reaching this level.
- Search for a precise indicator that clearly indicates when this level has been reached (pop-up indicator, colour marker, or other formulas).
- In addition, the instant pot should incorporate a quick-release option with the pressure regulator. Today’s pressure cookers allow this mechanism to quickly reduce the pressure inside the appliance without losing heat.
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Modern express cookware provide many safety features that the pressure cookware of the past simply didn’t offer. If overpressure occurs, today’s appliances discharge excess steam with an audible whistle.
- If the pressure continues to increase despite the “whistle”, there are also solutions with modern instant pots. The sealing gasket would be pushed out through a designed safety opening in the cover, venting the pressure safely.
It is not the thing same to buy an instant pot for a single person as it is for a family. Also, keep in mind, that you can only fill two-thirds with food, and sometimes even less.
In the following table you can see the correlation between the volume of the pot and the number of people at the table:
|Instant pot volume||Food quantity|
|3 and 4 liters||For two people or side dishes for four people. Ideal for people who live alone or for couples.|
|5 and 6 liters||They are the most suitable for a family. Perfect for four or six diners.|
|7 and 8 liters||Recommended for large families or for many guests. Also advisable for preserves or for foods that are then frozen.|
Warranty and Accessories
A good pressure cooker is likely to last several decades, but a smart buyer will consider the quality of the brand. In addition, you should take into account your commitment to maintaining your products.
- Spare parts such as gaskets or rubber caps are not covered by warranty. Therefore, we recommend choosing a branded company in which the parts and accessories of the instant pot are easily available.
We put the cost of the express pot last because there are more important features that drastically vary its price. It is important that there are spare parts and that the price does not soar for them – something that must be checked before purchase. On the other hand, it is usually the case with these appliances that the more expensive they are, the more durable they are also.
Let’s look at a table below:
|Cosori||Approximately 70 CAD$. For moderate use. Doesn’t usually offer sales.|
|Instant Pot||About 150 CAD$. Medium durability. They usually give discounts.|
|Breville||Approximately 300 CAD$. High durability. They usually make offers and discounts.|
|Presto||From 50 CAD$. Moderate use. Can often find offers.|
|Bra||From 50 CAD$. Moderate use and low durability. Usually offers discounts.|
Buying an instant pot is always a good choice. In addition to saving energy and money, you’ll cook healthier food much faster. With this appliance you can present homemade meals to your guests without spending hours in the kitchen. Only the cooking times need to be taken into account, since this aspect can have a learning curve. After all, time is everything when it comes to cooking with an instant pot.
Don’t forget that, if you intend to buy a pressure cooker (or an instant pot) you should take into account some important criteria, outlined in the last section of this article. From materials and spare parts, to safety features and price, these all add to give you the best value for your money. Take all factors in to account and enjoy all available time an instant pot will bring into your life.
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