The Science Behind Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

People are now looking for new ways to make delicious and sumptuous food that are easy to cook. It is impressive that pressure cooking is not that popular because as we all know; pressure cooking can cook food much faster compared to conventional cooking and they also enhance the flavor of the ingredients because the pressurized steam it created penetrates the ingredients a lot quicker and creates new flavors. The pressure cooker cuts the cooking time, making it possible for tough ingredients like beef, beans, and whole grains to be cooked much faster. So, instead of spending the entire day making beef stew, you can use the pressure cooker and cook stew in less than an hour. Instant pot pressure cooker is easy to use and very safe.

How does it work?

The pressure cooker is just like any other pot in your kitchen. What sets it apart is its modified lid that locks and seals the steam and produces pressure that cooks and tenderizes the food much faster compared to traditional cooking. The vapor it produces raises the temperature inside the pot from 210 degrees Fahrenheit (conventional cooking) to 240-250 degrees Fahrenheit. To use a pressure cooker, you need to put the ingredients inside the container, put water (half the pot), lock the lid and put in a medium to high heat. Steam will develop, and since the top is sealed, the pressurized steam is controlled to 15 pounds/square inch (15 psi). Once the pot reached its maximum pressure, a valve will open and releases excess pressure so the temperature can be controlled.

Stovetop cookers are preset at 15 pounds per square inch, but some models provide higher or lower settings. Lower settings are used for delicate foods like cake and puddings. The electric pressure cooker is also available in the market. These models have different configurations with varying temperature and pressure. Since it is electric, most models are digital, and the heat can be programmed. You use a low heat if you are cooking beans or grains and use the high temperature for tough meats like beef or lambs.

The pros and cons of pressure cooking

Pressure cooker cooks’ food 20 to 40% faster compared to traditional cooking like boiling steaming or braising. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, cooking using pressurized steam uses 50 – 75% less energy because it cooks the food faster. Food that is prepared using a pressure cooker retains more minerals and vitamins and not to mention, flavor, compared to food that is boiled steamed, fried or braised because pressure cooking uses less water in which vitamins and minerals can dissolve.

Pressure cooking is handy in high altitude places because as the elevation increases, atmospheric pressure decreases. It will cause water to boil at a much lower temperature, which makes the food cook much longer. Pressure cooker provides precise and constant climatic conditions inside the pot, cutting the cooking time to almost half even if you are in high altitude places.

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The pressure cooker takes time to learn how to use. You need to learn how much water you will put in the pot because cooking the traditional way is not the same with pressure cooking. Too much water will make your stew, or braised beef looks soupy, too little water can cause scorching and burnt ingredients. You also need to learn how to handle the cooker safely. It is not the usual pot that you immediately open the lid once the cooking is done. When using pressure cookers, you need to make sure the cover is locked tightly before you start cooking. When you think you are finished cooking, you open the top cap first to release the pressurized steam. It will take 5 to 10 minutes. If all the steam is released, that’s the time you can open the lid. If you open the lid without releasing the pressure first, boiling water will explode and might cause damage to your pot and severe injuries to the user. And lastly, you need to know the exact time your ingredients will cook because if you’re left your food for a few minutes, it can easily overcook.

During its early stage, you can find the pressure cooker in almost all kitchens in the United States, but there are stories about exploding pots due to improper sealing or people don’t release the steam before opening the lid, and it scared people off. In the 70s and 80s, pressure cooking became a thing of the past because of the popularity of frozen food, and other convenient meal solutions and of course the introduction of the microwave oven. Newer versions like instant pot pressure cooker are now fail-safe and equipped with backup vents to avoid overpressure. It also has a plug that releases excess steam in case you forgot to turn it off.

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