From the time of Denis Papin and the first pressure cooker to the modern days, basic design, fabrication material, and purposes of cooking under steam pressure haven’t changed significantly. The main advantage of steam cooking over classic cooking lies in the fact that when you cook in steam, steam raises the temperature of cooking, and food is cooked faster. The ability to prepare food more quickly, save energy, and preserve the nutrients, flavors and aroma of food are top reasons why today we use it more than other utensils. Its widespread use in households actually only just started in the second half of the 20th century, when people finally recognized its full potential.
Today, there is a lot of variation of different pressure cookers available on the market. But the main division is between these two options – classic pressure cooker and Instant Pot. In the USA nowadays, usually, people have both options in their kitchen equipment. We’ll do a review of both today and pay special attention to find out differences between them and the pros and cons for each, so you can easier decide which one best fits for your needs.
Classic pressure cookers, through its long history, passed three main phases. The technology of the first generation stovetop pressure cookers was simple – “jiggler” valve would release pressure during a cooking operation when it’s needed. They were loud because the valve gets wild as the surplus of steam was released. Typically they offered only one pressure level, but how later that started to change. As we said, the design hasn’t changed, so today pressure cookers are improved versions of the first generation, with add-ons of new security features. The second generation has the main characteristic of a spring-loaded valve hidden from view. Made of aluminum or stainless steel, they have a mechanism that offers users to choose and change more pressure options. Some of them don’t even release the steam instead of using an indicator that shows on the current pressure level.
Classic stovetop pressure cookers’ advantages over its “younger electric brothers” are that they reach faster-desired pressure, and they are better for preparing some food, like browning meat, or example. They also last much longer than others. But they aren’t so secure, so they require much more attention. But let us see modern alternatives. The third generation of pressure cookers is the so-called “electric cookers.” They have an electric base that is a heat source and automatically regulated to maintain pressure and secure the optimal cooking process. They also include a spring-based valve. This type of cooker cannot be opened with a cold water quick-release method and should be operated with caution when releasing vapor through the valve, especially when cooking liquids. One of the main features of this type of pressure cooker is a timer. Depending on control capability, electric pressure cookers are also divided into three categories.
First-generation of electric pressure cookers, with mechanical timer and without delayed cooking capability. The second generation, with digital timer and controller which allows you to delay your cooking. And third gen of electric cookers with smart programing with plenty options so you can manipulate timer presets, temperature, heating intensity, and duration. Some of them are called multicookers because they are multifunctional, from the main feature, pressure cooker to slow cooker, steamer, rice and porridge cooker, yogurt maker, etc.
Now we will focus on one of them, America’s favorite – instant pot. The instant pot is a multipurpose cooker which provides various features to help you finish any cooking image you created in your head. Depending on a model, instant pot can cook, warm, hold food on willing temperature, slow cook, cook rice, say it! It gives you the possibility to rely on it more than on any other kitchen gadgetry. It comes in a variety of different models and sizes (from 3 to 8 quarts), made of high-quality stainless steel, with many different modes and options (so much that often people get confused). It’s much quieter and much more secure choice than regular, stovetop pressure cookers. Instant pot can also be used everywhere where you have access to a power outlet. It gives you the ability to make super delicious and healthy food with much less effort than with standard cooking equipment. While stovetop cookers need to be often supervised, to adjust heat level making sure that is always on the right level, with instant pot, it’s easy – just set it and forget it.
Some models have integrated WiFi and over-application on your smartphone. You are able to select the desired program, time, duration of cooking, and to set the timer when you want to start/ finish such warm food wait for you when you arrive home after a long day on work. One of the bad sides is that food can easy to burn because instant pot works over bottom burners, but present models usually have sensors that can automatically recognize and detect burning and turn off the device.
Also, it longer takes to reach the desired pressure, and it’s a little difficult to understand its timer at first because it has a warm-up and “pressure build” waiting time, so it’s pretty possible to be a bit confusing on the beginning. Of course, it has electric parts, so there is always a possibility that some part gets broken and require service. But less or more, that’s all pros and cons of this useful kitchen gadget. If you choose an instant pot, you will get a lot – automated electric pressure cooker with plenty of functions that will serve you properly and will complete every task you put him in.
While “old school” people still swear in classic pressure cookers, the younger generation, which aims to make more free time for some quality activities, will for sure appreciate more the main point of the instant pot. It will cook a perfect meal with the least effort, for a minimal amount of time and secure and comfortable.
After deciding which option is best for you, consider the dimensions you need. For example, what size pressure cooker should I buy. Also, keep in mind additional options like what is the best pressure cooker for canning. Some stainless steel pressure cookers are very popular.