March 1st 2019
The Instant Pot - how this speed cooker became cult
November 22nd 2019 / 0 comment
It makes everything from porridge to yoghurt and Amazon can’t keep it in stock, especially over Black Friday. But why exactly is everyone clamouring to get one?
We've all been there with the ‘must-have' kitchen gadgets – hands up whose spiralizer is now in the charity shop and whose slow juicer is gathering dust. However, the Instant Pot – a pressure cooker/slow cooker/steamer hybrid that cooks a whole chicken in 20 minutes and quinoa in just one, looks like a genuine pretender to the throne.
Invented in 2010 by a Canadian computer expert, it's been on sale in the UK for four years and, without any marketing to speak of, regularly flies off the shelves almost as soon as it's in stock. Last year over the festive season, there apparently wasn't one to be had all over Europe. In January of this year, production couldn’t keep up with sales, and prices reached up to £1,500 on eBay (nearly 15 times the normal £110 price tag). It has die-hard Facebook fans (one group numbers 1.6 million members) calling themselves Pot Heads; one subgroup called Instant Pot Easy Indian Recipes has 70,000 curry enthusiasts and 10 new posts a day. There are umpteen Instant Pot cookbooks from vegan to paleo. It's a hot favourite for Black Friday Bargain Hunters - and at time of press it's the Instant Pot in Amazon's Black Friday Sale is down to £89.99.
So what's the big deal?
“It takes the fuss out of cooking,” says nutritional therapist Daniel O’Shaughnessy, an early adopter in 2014 of the cooker that many nutritionists either own or nod approvingly at. “You can just throw everything in and it still comes out tasting delicious. You can’t really go wrong.” It has an impressive skill set. As well as a slow cooker, it’s also a rice cooker, a pressure and non-pressure steamer, a porridge maker, food defroster and warmer (for up to 10 hours) and a yoghurt maker. Daniel also uses his to make quick soups too, which serves as an easy way to get your nutrients in if you’re lacking time.
What’s more, it has 14 cooking programmes that do everything from stewing to sautéing and, as Daniel points out, it can prepare a joint of meat in 40 minutes and bone broth in a speedy 20. You can speed cook anything so long as there is liquid involved; it is said to make meat incredibly tender. If you want to cook a chicken, you brown it first with the sauté function, then add a cup of water and pressure cook it for about 20 minutes. It even cooks meat from frozen, says Daniel. "It works better than a slow cooker, the results are quicker and tastier, " he says. "It also boils eggs, and you can also programme it to be ready for when you wake up." Prep is minimal – add liquid, close the lid and press a button.
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For someone like me, whose culinary skills are somewhat lacking, it sounds like my kind of tech. It’s the ultimate sous chef, but is it really better for larger households? “No,” Daniel tells me. “I’m just a household of one and I use it to batch-cook bone broth and freeze it into muffin trays. I make everything from chillis to Bolognese and stews in it and just freeze it again if I don’t eat it all.” Daniel recommends recipes.instantpot.com for Instant Pot inspo.
After a black Friday sellout (when our Editorial Director Victoria bought one and is now whipping through one-minute quinoa and five-minute no-soak green lentils), it’s now back in stock on Amazon. But for how long is anyone’s guess.
The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, £89.99, is available to buy online here.