“Cooking Under Pressure”

I grew up with my mother using a heavy aluminum pressure cooker similar to one pictured on the left above. She used it for tough meat and beans. She always made us stay well clear of the thing, constantly scaring us about its ability to explode. (Maybe she just wanted some peace in the kitchen for a change.) It required careful monitoring and adjustment of the burner to keep it at the right pressure. I think its only safety feature was an ability to “blow its top” if the pressure went too high.

Needless to say I wasn’t interested in pressure cooking when I had my first home. But around then the slow cooker phase set in and I used it instead for the same foods. In fact I still have the same Rival Crock Pot that I first used in the early 1970’s and it still works just fine.

But after hearing friends rave endlessly about the Instant Pot, I finally succumbed and bought the one pictured on the right. So far I have only cooked chick peas in the dish Chana Masala. One feature that the slow cooker lacks is the Instant Pot’s ability to saute before it pressure cooks. For a browned exterior, I have had to use a separate pan to saute the meat had before using the slow cooker. In the case of the Chana Masala, I was able to saute the vegetables before pressure cooking the beans.

There really isn’t anything “instant” about the pot besides its name. It still requires time for the steam to reach full pressure, time to cook the food, and time for the pot to slowly release the pressure it has built up. Its main advantage, I think, is over the old and more finicky pressure cookers. The Instant Pot takes control of a constant pressure and doesn’t need watching as did the old style ones.

The jury is still out on whether I will convert from the slow cooker to the Instant Pot.  Nothing can be quicker than dumping beans and water into the slow cooker, setting it and walking away until the evening. As for other recipes, we’ll see.

24 thoughts on ““Cooking Under Pressure”

  1. I rarely use a Slow Cooker, as I have my late mother’s, and it’s past its best….I keep meaning to replace it, as it is super handy to have stuff gently cooking without needing much attention

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  2. I never used a pressure cooker and only occasionally use my crockpot. I see everyone is getting the Instant Pot but I honestly doubt whether I’d use it either. So far my oven/stove does whatever needs doing. I’ll be interested if you find other nifty ways to use it. We did invest recently in a Vitamix and am happy that my husband uses it frequently to mix up healthy drinks.

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  3. At first, I mis-read the word “sauté” in the 3rd sentence of the 3rd paragraph as “salute” — you can imagine my surprise that an Instant Pot could salute before it pressure cooks. Still, I don’t think it should salute just anyone. At the very least, one should have the title of CHIEF COOK AND BOTTLE WASHER in order to warrant a salute.

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  4. When I first got married in 1977, we received a pressure cooker as a wedding present. It was just like the old one in the left-hand photo. At that time, I didn’t cook anything except a bacon sandwich, or cheese on toast, but my wife turned out some good meals using that pressure cooker.

    When I started to do all the cooking, (by necessity) in 1985, I bought two Le Creuset casserole dishes, and used them instead. I still have both in the kitchen to this day, and they are used all the time.
    As the old saying goes “You get what you pay for”. They were expensive, but still look as good as new, 36 years later. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  5. I love my crock pots. I struggle to make smaller amounts. I am trying to use the small one my mom gave me more.
    I purchased an Insta-pot last year. I had high hopes of learning the is new machine. Now with new medical issues, I rely on tried and true easy dishes.
    The machine is still in its box.

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  6. I still have the old-style pressure cooker, but can’t recall when I last used it. I have a slow cooker too, but it’s mostly used for mulled wine at Christmas these days. I’m rarely that organised, and my husband isn’t keen on ‘stews’ so it’s hardly worth bothering for just me . . .
    Maybe I will have it down from the top of the kitchen cupboards.

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  7. I never used or saw my mum using a pressure cooker as a child. I brought one the other week and I LOVE IT – tender beef casserole took about 65 min from whoa to go, sweet & sour chicken about 20 min. For someone as busy as I am, it was a game changer.

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  8. I had a great pressure cooker back in the day but then after 2 decades, new seals for it weren’t available, so had to purchase a new one which didn’t live up to the old one at all.
    Then I inherited a slow cooker from the 70’s era which is still in use today, actually made beef stew two nights ago in it, I love it!
    Elizabeth, my in laws had a pressure cooker explode on them, steaming hot food spewed all over their kitchen, ceiling & walls what a mess!
    But they were very grateful no one was in the kitchen at the time to get severely burnt.
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

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