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Old 01-18-2018, 02:24 PM
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Instant Pot - tell me about this trendy new gizmo


I live under a rock, apparently, and am only now growing a dawning realization that everyone is talking about this Instant Pot thingy. (Moms on my Facebook feed, the recipes in my emails, etc. That's totally "everyone" right?) Cursory googling tells me it's a programmable pressure cooker that says it can do the job of a rice maker and other gadgets, cook a bunch of different things at once, and I dunno, fold my laundry and do my taxes.

Anyone here used this thing or have one already? (Worth it?)
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Old 01-18-2018, 03:22 PM
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Worth it to me, not necessarily worth it to everyone.

I've had mine around 6 months or so. It's awesome for hardboiling eggs, which I do weekly. I've also made soups, chili, and various chicken dishes, all very good to excellent.

My biggest issue is storage. It's big, heavy, and clunky. I don't have counter or cupboard space for it, so every time I use it I'm hauling it up and back down a flight of stairs.

I guess it says something that I'm willing to do this and still use it regularly.


mmm
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Old 01-18-2018, 03:57 PM
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My friend just got one. She wanted it because you program it to turn on at a certain time and temp, as opposed to a crock pot which you have to turn on and leave on. Being able to have it turn on at a certain time gives her more options for dishes because the cooking time can vary.

She's in love with it. Loves being able to prepare dinner the night before and have a hot meal ready for her and her son when they both get home in the evening.
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Old 01-18-2018, 04:10 PM
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Maybe I'm overly cautious, but a pressure cooker on a timer sounds like a recipe for destroying your home when you're not there. What kind of operational caveats and warnings does it have?
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Old 01-18-2018, 04:20 PM
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The Instant Pot has some very large number of safety features to prevent it from exploding, though I still wouldn't use it in that manner. I don't want to leave unprepared food in a room-temperature sealed container, but that's me.

As for the Instant Pot, I love it. Space isn't an issue for me because it simply replaced my slow cooker, which is about identical in size. There are lots and lots of recipes on the internet, but it more or less boils down to this: the Instant Pot is a slow cooker, except not slow. It can do anything a crockpot can do in a significant fraction of the time.
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Old 01-18-2018, 04:46 PM
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There are lots and lots of recipes on the internet, but it more or less boils down to this: the Instant Pot is a slow cooker, except not slow. It can do anything a crockpot can do in a significant fraction of the time.
That's an important point. It's not going to save you much or any time when compared to a recipe that uses the stovetop or oven. This is because it takes a while to get up to temperature/pressure, many recipes include saute step, releasing pressure isn't instantaneous, and all the cutting/food prep has to be done upfront instead of as you go.

But it's great as an alternative to a slow cooker.
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Old 01-18-2018, 04:59 PM
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I don't refer to myself in the third person often, but.
Bob Bitchin' is disappointed by this misleading thread title, man.

Last edited by BobBitchin'; 01-18-2018 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 01-18-2018, 05:15 PM
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I was given one for Christmas. Used it once. Don't have another pressure cooker right now so will probably use it again for that someday. I think the ability to brown something I will be slow cooking in the same pan is going to be useful. The pot itself is inside a pretty sturdy unit so even if all the safety features fail it's just going to blow the lid off and make a mess, not destroy your home.
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Old 01-18-2018, 07:30 PM
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Maybe I'm overly cautious, but a pressure cooker on a timer sounds like a recipe for destroying your home when you're not there. What kind of operational caveats and warnings does it have?

What could you do to save your house from an exploding pot if you were home, tho?
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Old 01-18-2018, 07:31 PM
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I don't refer to myself in the third person often, but.
Bob Bitchin' is disappointed by this misleading thread title, man.

Who the heck are you?? Welcome to the SDMB, good post lol
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Old 01-18-2018, 07:38 PM
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I admit expecting discussion of some kind of rapid-delivery cannabis service.
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Old 01-18-2018, 07:40 PM
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Yeah, that's why I opened the thread.
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Old 01-18-2018, 07:46 PM
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Yep, me too.
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Old 01-18-2018, 08:45 PM
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Who the heck are you?? Welcome to the SDMB, good post lol
Thanks for the welcome, I am digging this place.

I'm not sure how to answer..." Who the heck are you?"

Are you asking if I'm really Tommy Chong? No, I'm just some dude.
Are you asking do we know each other? We might, I've been around. PM me we'll figure it out.

OOOooooh... A mystery is afoot. Do we know each other? Do I owe ZipperJJ money? Am I really Inigo Montoya, and did he kill my father?

Look for the Bitchin'/Zipper thread to find out!
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Old 01-18-2018, 08:48 PM
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Maybe I'm overly cautious, but a pressure cooker on a timer sounds like a recipe for destroying your home when you're not there. What kind of operational caveats and warnings does it have?
This sounds like a feature. GREAT FOR INSURANCE SCAMS!
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Old 01-18-2018, 09:27 PM
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I've had it for about a year and a half now or so. It replaced my stovetop pressure cooker, so I've had some experience with pressure cookers before, obviously. I think it's fantastic. I use it 2-3 times a week, mostly for making broth/stock, and also for making stews. There's a thousand things you can use it for, but those are the most useful for me. I'll do rice in it occasionally, as well.
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Old 01-18-2018, 09:31 PM
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#metoo
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Old 01-18-2018, 09:43 PM
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I got one for Christmas. I threw out the slow cooker decades ago, because I realized that everything tasted better if I cooked it some other way. But we have a stovetop pressure cooker that my husband uses, but that I don't like to deal with.

(Mostly I don't like cleaning the stove-top pressure cooker, because it's large and heavy and the flanges that lock it closed are a little sharp, so it's awkward in the sink. This has much friendlier pieces to clean. But also, the stove-top pressure cooker is a little fussy to get to and keep at the right pressure. This is simple.)

But I admit, so far we've just used it as a rice cooker. We eat a lot of rice, and it is, indeed, an awesome rice cooker. You don't need to worry about the pot boiling over and making a mess, or about the water cooking away and the rice burning. You just touch the "rice" setting and it does it's thing. And the rice comes out great.

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That's an important point. It's not going to save you much or any time when compared to a recipe that uses the stovetop or oven. This is because it takes a while to get up to temperature/pressure, many recipes include saute step, releasing pressure isn't instantaneous, and all the cutting/food prep has to be done upfront instead of as you go.

But it's great as an alternative to a slow cooker.
Depends on the recipe. I had to laugh at the recipe for 2-minute quinoa, which did, indeed, require bringing it up to pressure and then cooling it off, so it took maybe 20 minutes + the advertised 2, in contrast to stovetop quinoa, which takes about 15 minutes. But if you want to cook beans, you will save a lot of time with pressure. And while I haven't tried it for stock, yet, I hope to drop "a few hours" to "short enough to cook stock after supper". I need to test it on a weekend, first, though.

Anyhow, having previously learned that I don't care for slow-cooker food, I plan to use it as a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, and probably as a yogurt-grower. Back when we had a stove with a pilot light we made our own yogurt, and I'd like to try that again.
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Old 01-18-2018, 10:59 PM
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But if you want to cook beans, you will save a lot of time with pressure. And while I haven't tried it for stock, yet, I hope to drop "a few hours" to "short enough to cook stock after supper". I need to test it on a weekend, first, though.
I just put seven pints of stock in the freezer before I sat down to read the Dope. It is definitely fast enough to cook stock after supper, although I made today's during the day. (Unless you are serving a roast chicken without dismembering it first, you may want to put the carcass in the pot and start it before you sit down to dinner, and strain it in the evening. But it could not be easier to do.)

I also use mine for making yogurt, and it comes out great. Just don't do it in the mid afternoon. You can start it in the morning and put it in the fridge that night, or you can make it overnight, but you don't want to start it at 3PM and end up with yogurt that is perfectly done at 1AM.
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Old 01-19-2018, 08:59 AM
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What could you do to save your house from an exploding pot if you were home, tho?
Unplug it before it explodes? I'm assuming there'd be some sort of look or smell or sound it'd make when it's outside the intended operating envelope.

But even after it explodes--being home means I can call 911 immediately and save my cat, instead of the neighbors calling later.
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:06 AM
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Unplug it before it explodes? I'm assuming there'd be some sort of look or smell or sound it'd make when it's outside the intended operating envelope.

But even after it explodes--being home means I can call 911 immediately and save my cat, instead of the neighbors calling later.
It would be the lack of an odor or sound that's an indication of a problem, or that the cooking cycle has completed. And there won't be a need to call 911 unless you expect the police, firemen, and EMTs to bring in some mops to clean up your kitchen. Your cat won't consider itself saved when you take it away from the delicious food you spread all over your kitchen.
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:17 AM
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Unplug it before it explodes? I'm assuming there'd be some sort of look or smell or sound it'd make when it's outside the intended operating envelope.

But even after it explodes--being home means I can call 911 immediately and save my cat, instead of the neighbors calling later.
I think you might have some misconceptions about pressure cookers.

As usual, there's an XKCD for this.
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:19 AM
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I love it! I use it mostly for roasts and stews. Meat and veggies come out VERY tender. Sometimes when using the slow cooker, carrots would still be kind of hard, but I've never had that problem with the pressure cooker. Yes, it does take a while for it to pressurize but who cares? It's not like you have to do anything - just leave it. If I count prep, browning, pressurizing, cooking and pressure release - a huge pot of stew will be done in about 1-1/2 hours. With my labor being maybe a half hour of that time. It is big and clunky. I keep mine in the basement. But all of the big items that I don't use all of the time are down there.
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:25 AM
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On the negative side of the cooker, its biggest problem is moisture.

You need a certain amount of liquid in the cooker to allow it to get up to pressure. Once it seals, though, verrrry little liquid gets lost to evaporation. I think I read somewhere that you might lose a tablespoon over the course of a typical pressure cook.

So if you're making something saucy, like a curry, you're going to have some work to do (reserve and reduce) after the pressure cooking is done. That's the sort of thing that happens naturally in a dish that traditionally requires a long simmer.
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:35 AM
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On the negative side of the cooker, its biggest problem is moisture.

You need a certain amount of liquid in the cooker to allow it to get up to pressure. Once it seals, though, verrrry little liquid gets lost to evaporation. I think I read somewhere that you might lose a tablespoon over the course of a typical pressure cook.

So if you're making something saucy, like a curry, you're going to have some work to do (reserve and reduce) after the pressure cooking is done. That's the sort of thing that happens naturally in a dish that traditionally requires a long simmer.
You lose a lot during cooking because the unit isn't sealed once it's up to pressure, it's constantly venting steam. And then you lose more when you release the pressure, or you can let it cool slowly to depressurize but you add a time to the process that way (although there are times when a slow cool produces a better result).

It is difficult to get just the right amount of liquid though. The Instant Pot can keep on reducing the liquid after the pressure cooking is done, just like when you cook at normal pressure in a pot on the stove, but any pressure cooker can do that, once you depressurize it's just another pot.

Last edited by TriPolar; 01-19-2018 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 01-19-2018, 01:12 PM
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I ditched my slow cooker because you can use the instant pot as a slow cooker, too. Just put the valve to vent instead of seal.

I try to eat lean cuts of meat which tend to be tough. The instant pot makes those tender.

I made red beans the other night from dry to done in 30 minutes including the time it took for the pressure to build.

It's perfect for taco meat or spaghetti sauce where I want small bits of hamburger rather than big clumps.

One of my standards is chicken verde. I take a package of chicken breasts and douse it in green chili verde. No sauteing and no extra liquid. Cook for about 15 minutes and let the pressure dissipate naturally. Remove chicken from pot and shred with forks. But DON'T throw out all the liquid left. Add it back to the shredded chicken and stir it in. You'll have much moister chicken. I'll stick a serving of this under the broiler and add to a power bowl or a wrap or a pot of Mexican lime or tortilla soup. Pretty good in salads, too.

I find most recipes call for too much liquid. Also, a lot of sauteing that isn't going to work at all. The bottom of the stock pot is too narrow to effectively saute six chicken breasts. If you've got to have that, do it in a larger pan on the stove and then add to the instant pot.

I don't set the instant pot to come on at a certain time, but I will turn it on and leave it alone. It will hold foods for up to 24 hours.
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Old 01-19-2018, 01:34 PM
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I love mine--mostly make hardboiled eggs in it so far, but I'm still trying to find the trick for how to reliably do chicken breasts without them coming out tough. Does anybody know?

I'm not talking about a recipe--just good old boring tender cooked chicken breasts.
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Old 01-19-2018, 02:01 PM
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I love mine--mostly make hardboiled eggs in it so far, but I'm still trying to find the trick for how to reliably do chicken breasts without them coming out tough. Does anybody know?
It's super easy to overcook chicken breast in the pressure cooker. Here's a good article going into (possibly too much) detail.

https://www.pressurecookrecipes.com/...essure-cooker/
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Old 01-19-2018, 03:59 PM
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Has anyone tried cooking goat meat in one, and if so, what was your experience?

I purchased some at a local African grocery a few years ago, and it tasted like roast beef but was EXTREMELY tough; I had cooked it in my Crock Pot the way other people suggested I do it. That grocery has since closed but I'm pretty sure I could obtain it at another small market that's run by a Nepali family.
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Old 01-19-2018, 05:16 PM
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I just put seven pints of stock in the freezer before I sat down to read the Dope. It is definitely fast enough to cook stock after supper, although I made today's during the day. (Unless you are serving a roast chicken without dismembering it first, you may want to put the carcass in the pot and start it before you sit down to dinner, and strain it in the evening. But it could not be easier to do.)

I also use mine for making yogurt, and it comes out great. Just don't do it in the mid afternoon. You can start it in the morning and put it in the fridge that night, or you can make it overnight, but you don't want to start it at 3PM and end up with yogurt that is perfectly done at 1AM.
Ooh, thanks.

I do usually serve a whole roast chicken without dismembering it first, but I suppose I could change that. What's your stock recipe? Maybe I'll try yogurt tomorrow, if I'm feeling ambitious.
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Old 01-19-2018, 05:21 PM
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I love mine--mostly make hardboiled eggs in it so far, but I'm still trying to find the trick for how to reliably do chicken breasts without them coming out tough. Does anybody know?

I'm not talking about a recipe--just good old boring tender cooked chicken breasts.
I feel like it's super-easy to cook chicken breasts in a frying pan or in the broiler or even steamed in a regular pot without pressure. What's the benefit of using the instant pot?
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Old 01-19-2018, 05:39 PM
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Ah, an updated pressure cooker.

I had to Google to see what an Instant Pot was.

Could be useful if you're in a hurry to cook meat.

My fear of pressure cookers too deep rooted to ever have one. My mom refused to have one in her house. Some of her friends stained their ceilings with pressure cookers in the 1960's.

Last edited by aceplace57; 01-19-2018 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 01-19-2018, 05:41 PM
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The pot has a valve at the top which you can open to release the steam. I think it's better to let the pot cool naturally. I think releasing the steam will cause all the internal moisture in the food to turn to steam as well. By letting the pot cool naturally, the food seems to have a better texture.

Unfortunately, the pot doesn't have a visible way to know the pressure is down. You have to tweak the valve a little bit to see if it steams. If you're observant, you may hear a quiet 'click' when the steam has cooled enough and stops pressing on the valve.
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Old 01-19-2018, 05:58 PM
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NOT A COOK replying here. I bought myself an Instant Pot before Christmas, and also bought one for each of my brothers' families. So far I've made creamy tomato-basil soup, chicken with stuffing, and pulled pork. All have turned out GREAT, but really much more than two of us can eat, so I'm going to tweak the recipes and/or make room in my freezer for leftovers. Next attempt will be spaghetti or meatloaf & mashed potatoes.

I love it. It's made me want to cook and, while it does take longer than the recipes state due to the time to bring the IP up to pressure or heat, it's still a time saver.

filmore, the IP should have a metal bullet (for lack of a better term) that pops up level with the lid when it's at pressure, and drops down about 1/4" when the pressure has been released. You'll see it work within 30 seconds-ish if you release the pressure manually with the valve. If you let the pressure release naturally, it will eventually drop also, albeit after much more time. I've also heard that there is a safety mechanism that keeps the IP from opening if it's still pressurized, but I'm not one to test it out!

Last edited by kath94; 01-19-2018 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 01-19-2018, 06:24 PM
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I keep the gasket in a gallon Ziploc bag in the freezer between uses, and have two, marked "Sweet" and "Savory", because that gasket absorbs the odor of whatever you cook, and it's almost impossible to deodorize.
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Old 01-19-2018, 07:26 PM
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There are tons of YouTube videos demonstrating Instant Pot recipes. Here's a one-pot pasta recipe.
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Old 01-20-2018, 07:03 AM
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Have no interest in having one. There's only 2 of us. OTOH if I had a family I'd consider it.
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Old 01-20-2018, 07:36 AM
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Have no interest in having one. There's only 2 of us. OTOH if I had a family I'd consider it.
That shouldn't really make or break it. They do have a small one. I'm just me (my daughter wouldn't eat anything that it would make) and I'm looking at getting one. I use my crock pot all the time. I make enough for about 4-6 meals. I'll eat it tonight, then have left overs once or twice over the coming days and freeze the rest, if it's suitable for that. It appears that this would work just as well.
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Old 01-20-2018, 08:16 AM
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With the kids gone now we won't need to use it much, but it will be useful now and then.
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Old 01-20-2018, 08:56 AM
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There's only two of us and I like mine a lot for certain things. We are both fans of leftovers so I like that I can make enough for 2-3 dinners. For healthy recipes- I really like Skinnytaste.com - made some outstanding carnitas last week that fed us for 3 nights plus enough for freezer leftovers. The beans are still tricky for me- I haven't quite been able to get them as done as I want them. Next time I probably will either do the soak cycle longer or just soak them overnight.

I think it's best for soups, stews & roasts. The saute feature, as mentioned, is kind of useless for browning meat but does ok for getting your veggies softened a little. The best thing about it is that I can put onions in everything again- my significant other hates them but the IP pretty much obliterates them in stews so the flavor is there but he doesn't notice any crunch ever.
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Old 01-20-2018, 09:40 AM
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I think it's best for soups, stews & roasts. The saute feature, as mentioned, is kind of useless for browning meat but does ok for getting your veggies softened a little. The best thing about it is that I can put onions in everything again- my significant other hates them but the IP pretty much obliterates them in stews so the flavor is there but he doesn't notice any crunch ever.
I usually just sautee on the stovetop anyway, because of the amount of space I need to do a big batch of meat, but I find the pot's sautee feature surprisingly effective, if you set it to the highest setting (there are three settings: low, normal, and high.) I'll sometimes brown my onions in there. I mean, it will definitely color your veggies, not just soften them.

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Old 01-20-2018, 10:01 AM
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I usually just sautee on the stovetop anyway, because of the amount of space I need to do a big batch of meat, but I find the pot's sautee feature surprisingly effective, if you set it to the highest setting (there are three settings: low, normal, and high.) I'll sometimes brown my onions in there. I mean, it will definitely color your veggies, not just soften them.
The saute feature is attractive, for a slow cooker. You can do that with an ordinary stove top pressure cooker, and there are slow cookers that have that feature, but this combines everything in one unit.

Also, the timing features may be useful, I'd have to try it out and see.
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Old 01-20-2018, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
That shouldn't really make or break it. They do have a small one. I'm just me (my daughter wouldn't eat anything that it would make) and I'm looking at getting one. I use my crock pot all the time. I make enough for about 4-6 meals. I'll eat it tonight, then have left overs once or twice over the coming days and freeze the rest, if it's suitable for that. It appears that this would work just as well.
We've got a small crock pot. I think it's a 3 or 4 quart? Anyway, we don't eat a lot of stews, soups, and such to begin with, nor are we fans of more-than-2-day-old leftovers. If I do make stew I find it easier to saute everything in my soup/stew pot then leave it turned to low on a back burner, stirring it every so often. I've also done similar with brisket in the oven in a pan covered with foil, temp at 300 or 325F for X hours.

When I do use the crock pot, it's almost always for something already frozen and just needs a dump-and-stir sauce. Handy for when we're both out of the house for severa hours.
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Old 01-20-2018, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by BobBitchin' View Post
Bob Bitchin' is disappointed by this misleading thread title, man.
If state pot legalization keeps rolling, expect Ronco to capitalize on this concept. Only $19.95!
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Old 01-24-2018, 02:25 AM
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Hey, it also makes rice. My going to college next year kidlet will have one in tow for her dorm room.

Me, I use it as a sterilizer for my beer yeast containers. Works
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Old 01-24-2018, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by filmore View Post
The pot has a valve at the top which you can open to release the steam. I think it's better to let the pot cool naturally. I think releasing the steam will cause all the internal moisture in the food to turn to steam as well. By letting the pot cool naturally, the food seems to have a better texture.

Unfortunately, the pot doesn't have a visible way to know the pressure is down. You have to tweak the valve a little bit to see if it steams. If you're observant, you may hear a quiet 'click' when the steam has cooled enough and stops pressing on the valve.
There's a little popup button - if that's still up, the pot is still under pressure and you can't open it (literally can't - it will not open). Sometimes when I'm pretty sure the pressure is about done, I'll tap the button with a utensil. If the pressure is low enough, the button will then drop and I can open it.

Letting the pressure release naturally vs immediate release: some foods really need quick release or they'll be overcooked and inedible.

The biggest time savers I've found so far:
- dried beans
- Beef stew (literally 5 minutes or so once it got to pressure).

Last edited by Mama Zappa; 01-24-2018 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 01-24-2018, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by China Guy View Post
Hey, it also makes rice. My going to college next year kidlet will have one in tow for her dorm room.
Would a dedicated rice cooker be more useful for your kid? It would be smaller and always make perfect rice. I actually don't like using the IP for rice, since I never seem to get the water/rice/time ratio correct to make fluffy rice. That might be even more of a challenge for someone trying to make just a serving or two of rice in the IP.
  #48  
Old 01-25-2018, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by filmore View Post
Would a dedicated rice cooker be more useful for your kid? It would be smaller and always make perfect rice. I actually don't like using the IP for rice, since I never seem to get the water/rice/time ratio correct to make fluffy rice. That might be even more of a challenge for someone trying to make just a serving or two of rice in the IP.
A small (3 quart) Instant Pot isn't much larger than a smallish rice cooker, and would do as well on smaller quantities of rice - plus it can do other stuff. I'd definitely choose an IP over a single-use appliance.

Look around at various websites to get ideas on the ratio of water to rice; I seem to recall that in a pressure cooker, the ratio is 1:1 for white rice versus the more typical 2:1.
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Old 01-25-2018, 07:05 PM
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The instant pot recommends wetting the rice by rinsing it, and also adding its volume in water. So, a bit more than 1-1. I rinsed one cup of white rice, and also added 1.25 cups of water, and the rice came out perfect, fwiw.
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Old 01-25-2018, 08:24 PM
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The instant pot recommends wetting the rice by rinsing it, and also adding its volume in water. So, a bit more than 1-1. I rinsed one cup of white rice, and also added 1.25 cups of water, and the rice came out perfect, fwiw.
Yeah, I'm used to doing a scant 2:1 for stovetop rice (1.5:1 for jasmine rice) and have been a bit skeptical of the ratios for the Instant Pot, at first, but 1:1 works just right. They do recommend rinsing it, and I usually do, but when I don't, I just add a little extra water (maybe another 1/8 cup per cup of rice) and it's fine.
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