Category: Food Science

Great Cookbooks for Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker

By , November 23, 2015

mock cover1 225x300 Great Cookbooks for Instant Pot Electric Pressure CookerOne of the most common questions we hear is, “Is there a GREAT cookbook that you can recommend for use with the Instant Pot, or to include when giving an Instant Pot as a gift?”

The answer is “YES! There are several and the list is growing!”

Both those new to pressure cooking, as well as long-time pressure cooking enthusiasts have reported that they find “Hip Pressure Cooking: Fast, Fresh & Flavorful” by author and pressure cooking expert Laura Pazzaglia a particularly useful and fun book, with original, creative recipes based on sound scientific principles. Many in the Instant Pot®Community report reading it cover-to-cover like they would a novel!

I didn’t just flip through this cookbook — I read it (you know, like a book) because it is so full of useful information. And the recipes are really good too.” ~Anna

“I love the pictures! I have got to have pictures to really get my cooking mojo working.” ~ Wendy

What is so UNIQUE about this particular cookbook?

Well, the author is unique! Laura, bought her first pressure cooker after watching a friend make dinner in minutes; she quickly realized that the flavor of pressure cooked food was “like tasting food in high definition!” In 2010 she launched HipPressureCooking.com to share her discoveries, recipes, reviews and tips. Today Laura is considered one of the world’s top pressure cooking experts.

sneak1691 300x169 Great Cookbooks for Instant Pot Electric Pressure CookerMany have appreciated the icons at the top of each recipe that show a visual of what is needed to make it (i.e. a pot and a steamer, a bowl, or just a pot). That’s very helpful depending on your mood, as some days you just may not want to deal with extra bowls and/or steamer basket, so you can dismiss a recipe just by glancing at the list of needed supplies.

…and what to do for halving or doubling a recipe? THIS book tells you!

Plus, things you’ve come to expect from the Hip Pressure Cooking website –  measurements in whole vegetables (one medium carrot instead of 3/4 cups chopped carrot), the least number of ingredients to get the most effect; and,  harnessing the pressure cooker’s merits (speed, heat, evaporation and infusion) to get the most flavor in the least amount of time.

According to Laura, “The goal of the book is to cover everything that is possible to do in a pressure cooker and teach cooks how to port their craft to the pressure cooker with the most chance of success  by sharing all of the knowledge I have gained in 10+ years of pressure cooking.”

AND importantly, and to our point, Laura used the Instant Pot to create and test all of the recipes in this book, so her adaptations of stove-top methods are spot on for Instant Pot users. This is the only book that covers this appliance with new knowledge in a practical and lively manner. Highly recommended.


Read more here:
http://www.hippressurecooking.com/cookbook/

hip book ip 300x225 Great Cookbooks for Instant Pot Electric Pressure CookerLaura says, “Many of my techniques are based on science and experimenting – these little science-based tips are not always spelled out in the book, but they are the reasons my recipes always turn out well.”

For example:

“After watching a roast shrivel-up after pressure cooking, I began to research evaporation. I read a little tidbit about how evaporation happens faster when there is a wider temperature difference (for example between the room and the roasts’ juices). So that’s why I push (slower) natural release method for meats (so the super-heated juice don’t evaporate away). Accelerated evaporation is not all bad, it can be used to the cook’s advantage to accelerate reduction.  My go-to pressure cooker tomato sauce recipe uses the (faster) normal release to quickly evaporate and reduce the sauce with a little bit of help from science!”

“Liquids for building pressure can also come from different sources – including the food itself! Some of the recipes use the vegetables’ or meats’ own juices in addition to a small amount of liquid to reach pressure. Vegetables are 80-95% water so it’s easy to calculate the amount of water if you know the weight of the vegetable. I use that trick in the  Jams & Jellies chapter, too.  But there was no need to calculate the water content in the fruit – many of the recipes there reach pressure with sugar (which is a liquid).”

 

Like another well-known Italian, Laura uses the “Learn the rules so you can break them like an artist” principle. While many warn not to cook dry beans with acidic ingredients, Laura skillfully breaks this rule on occasion, with just the intended results:

“With practice, I was able to figure out that slowing down the cooking time of beans by adding an acidic ingredient (tomatoes, vinegar, wine, lemon, etc.) isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In making one-pots, you may want to slow down the bean’s cooking time so that it can catch-up to the other ingredients.  I use this trick in the ribs & bean salad one-pot recipe (below) where the beans boil in the base providing steam for the ribs above. The BBQ-sauce covered ribs above dribble down fat to flavor the beans and a bit of BBQ sauce to slow down their cooking so that they’re ready (and not falling apart) when the ribs are ready.”

hip bbq ribs 262x300 Great Cookbooks for Instant Pot Electric Pressure CookerHere’s a recipe from the “Hip Pressure Cooking: Fast, Fresh & Flavorful” (St. Martin’s 2014) which illustrates this point:

BBQ Pork Ribs with Spinach-Bean Salad
Although the BBQ in the title refers to the flavor and not the cooking method, the results should fool all but your most observant guests. The slide-under-the-broiler finish gives this dish a scorch that is both beautiful and delicious.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 ½ pounds baby back pork ribs
1 cup prepared barbecue sauce
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, cut into large dice
1 ½ cups water
1 cup dried cannellini beans, soaked, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
6 ounces fresh spinach (about 3 cups; baby spinach is nice)

Cut the ribs apart. Coat them on all sides with most of the barbecue sauce and sprinkle with salt and pepper: set remaining sauce aside. Arrange ribs in a steamer basket; you can stand them somewhat vertically to get them to fit.

Heat the pressure cooker base on medium heat, add the oil, and heat briefly. Stir in the onion and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add water, beans and bay leaf and stir.

Lower the rib-filled steamer basket into the pressure cooker and then close and lock the lid. Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes (stovetop) or 23 to 25 minutes (electric). When the time is up, open the pressure cooker with the 10-minute natural release method.

Set the upturned lid of the cooker on your countertop. Carefully lift the steamer basket out of the cooker and place it on the lid; cover with aluminum foil. Fish out and discard the bay leaf from the beans.

Mix in 1 teaspoon salt, the garlic and spinach. Using a slotted spoon, scoop bean mixture into a large oven-proof casserole (big enough to hold the ribs in one layer) with low sides. Using tongs, arrange ribs on top of beans and brush with remaining barbecue sauce.

To finish the dish, turn on oven broiler. Broil casserole until sauce on the ribs is lightly caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

For some behind-the-scenes stories about how the book was written, please see:  http://www.hippressurecooking.com/category/hip-books/

Where is the book available? Some specialty bookstores do stock it, and it is of course available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hip-Pressure-Cooking-Fresh-Flavorful/dp/1250026377/

 

 

How to cook perfect rice in an electric pressure cooker

By , September 1, 2015

Stumped as to how to cook perfect rice? Here is the new, definitive guide! Using just a 1-to-1 water-to-rice* ratio, and pressing a button will result in perfectly cooked rice of any variety every time. Easy to remember, easy to do.
*wet rice (read on to discover the scientific details, and how we came to this easy method for cooking perfect rice in the Instant Pot electric multi-cooker!)

~~

Cooking rice can be tricky. A lot depends on personal and cultural preferences, and even if we could all agree on the “perfect rice”, the altitude of your location, the hardness of your water, and the age and dryness of the rice may all play a role in the results obtained.

Of course millions of people have been cooking rice for thousands of years and some “tried-and-true” techniques, as well as some myths have developed.

You may have wondered about the markings in the stainless steel liner in your Instant Pot. One of the features of your multi-functional Instant Pot is a rice cooker. Rice cookers have been very popular for cooking rice for many years. The cup lines come from that heritage, and serve as a rough guide for the amount of water for the number of *cups of rice (the small *cup that came with your Instant Pot).

Still, depending on the volume of rice you cook at any one time, your results may vary. One Instant Pot enthusiast, Deborah K., wrote us to share this account of her success using the Instant Pot to cook traditional Japanese rice (applies to all brands, e.g. Tamaki, Nishiki, Kokuho Rose, etc): 

“The ratio of Rice to Water is 1:1.25 (same as brown rice). I rinsed rice; used rice button on Instant Pot; 10-minute natural pressure release. The rice was perfect – even better than when I use our Japanese electric rice cooker (and verified by my Japanese-born family members who did not realize that my “best rice ever” was cooked in your pressure cooker).”

Another Instant Pot user reported good results with the same ratio when cooking brown rice:

“I cook brown rice for 22 minutes – 1 cups of rice with 1 1/4 cups of water – and that was pretty much the most perfect rice I’ve ever cooked “

So we can be fairly confident that for cooking 1 cup of rice, 1.25 cups of water is a reasonably good amount, but what if you want to cook more rice at one time?

Jill Nussinow, “The Veggie Queen has long advocated a “sliding-scale” of water to rice, in her ever popular pressure cooking cookbook, “The New Fast Food”. She recently revealed in our new Instant Pot® Community” Facebook group how she first became aware of this reality:

“My job was to acquire recipes to use, as well as helping direct the writing of the programs to get the software that would adjust for number of servings to work correctly. This is where the algorithms came in. I learned a lot and have passed it on to many people.”

A recent Cook’s Illustrated video is especially relevant to the Instant Pot – which is incredibly (and verifiably) water/moisture conserving, allowing for very little evaporation.

It turns out that the ideal water-to-rice ratio – in the sealed environment of the Instant Pot – is 1:1, with rinsed (wet) rice.

Different varieties of rice require various cooking times (pressure cooking is much shorter than mentioned in the video), but the water to rice ratio remains constant at 1 to 1, simplifying the “perfecting” process tremendously! Science and technology in the kitchen!

The video offers a good explanation of the physics and math involved in getting consistent and pleasing results when cooking rice. Keep in mind when watching that cooking pots differ as to evaporation rates, and it is worth pointing out that the Instant Pot provides a sealed environment, so evaporation is kept to a minimum, giving the most consistent results. Most cooking instructions assume lots of evaporation over time, so they call for more water along with the longer cooking times of some varieties of rice. Watch the Cook’s Illustrated video (and take notes if you are curious, or a skeptic!).

 

To read LifeHacker’s comments, click here.

After discussing this approach with Flo Lum, favorite Instant Pot video creator, she observed: 

“This is probably why the “Chinese” method actually makes sense now. There are two methods… One uses your full hand: when placed barely on top of the rice, the water should reach a certain point on the top of your hand. And the knuckle method: where you stick your middle finger tip into the water, barely touching the top of the rice, the water should reach the first knuckle. I never understood how it worked but now sort of makes sense. Ancient Chinese secrets.”

Considering all of this, we tested various water to rice ratios, and can confidently recommend this as a convenient starting point in your search for your “perfect rice”:

Cooking rice in the Instant Pot, the 1:1 water to rice ratio method:

  1. Measure dry rice, set aside. (about 1 “cup” minimum recommended, any “cup” you choose)
  2. Measure same amount of water, add to Instant Pot’s inner pot/liner.
  3. Rinse rice, add wet rice to the measured water in the inner pot.
  4. Lock on the lid, and set the steam release valve to “sealing” position.
  5. Select your pressure cooking time.
    ~The “Rice” button is timed for white or parboiled rice only.
    ~For other types of rice, set “Manual” to correct time (by pressing “-” to adjust the cooking time) for the type of rice you are cooking, in the case of brown rice, for example select 22-25 minutes depending on your preferences and any local issues, like high elevation.
    ~See abbreviated timing chart below, or use your preferred pressure cooking time for your variety of rice.
  6. Let the rice rest for about 10 minutes after cooking is finished before releasing any remaining pressure, and serve.

~~

The foundation for this 1:1 recommendation is due to two things being true:
1. The Instant Pot allows very little water evaporation due to Instant Pot’s superior sealing ability.
2. Rice absorbs its volume in water when cooked long enough.

Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, no more mushy rice, with a few stating the rice was cooked, though a bit too “al dente” for their preferences, (these individuals where happier when using a small amount of additional water). Consider this your starting point, record any adjustments you may make, and soon you will have your personal recipe for perfect rice in the Instant Pot!

Pressure cooking times (in minutes) for some common varieties of rice:

White rice: 3-8

Basmati (white) rice: 4-8

Brown rice (long/short): 22-28

Wild rice mix: 25-30

Evaporation Rate of Pressure Cookers

By , November 16, 2012

Water evaporation 200x300 Evaporation Rate of Pressure CookersLaura Pazzaglia is the creator of the popular HipPressureCooking.com, dedicated to make pressure cooking hip. She is more than a prodigious cook, writer and educator.  Laura has also devised a simple but ingenious benchmark to measure one key aspect of pressure cooker performance.  She calls it evaporation measure. In her own words, this is done as:

“Starting with a “cold cooker” (not heated from a previous test) pour exactly 1000g of water into the liner and pressure cook for 10 minutes, with natural release. Then remove the lid and shake vigorously into the base and pour the contents into a zeroed-out bowl on digital scale. Record the weight of remaining water. “

Dividing the missing water amount over the total gives you evaporation rate.  It’s a straight forward measure of leakage of a pressure cooker, which works for both electric and stove-top pressure cookers, probably for stock pots too.

Why is evaporation rate important?  set 4 hires 250x250 Evaporation Rate of Pressure Cookers In “Modernist Cuisine” (so far the most comprehensive and authentic  book on the art and science of cooking), Nathan Myhrvold states that sealed cooking pots trap most aromatic volatiles which make stocks more flavourful (Volume II, pages 292). We also blogged about the astonishing discovery by Dave Arnold at the International Culinary Center that leaking steam means leaking flavour. Dave Arnold’s experiments showed that not all pressure cookers are equal in preserving flavour in stocks.  Leaky ones do a bad job, sometimes worse than a stock pot.

Hence, the evaporation rate is not just a simple leakage measure but an indicator of the quality of food the pressure cooker prepares.

What did Laura find out?

“Instant Pot only had an average 2% evaporation during ten minutes of pressure cooking (compared to Cuisinart 4% and most stove top pressure cookers 3.5%).”

In comparison, an uncovered pressure cooker at a vigorous boil for the same amount of time and same weight of water and the evaporation rate is 30%. You can read Laura’s meticulous review of the Instant Pot IP-LUX60 here.

Laura has very high standards. Instant Pot didn’t earn a perfect score. She gave IP-LUX60 a “Very Good” rating. We really appreciate Laura straight to-the-point approach and constructive criticism.  These give us something to strive to improve upon in our next model.

 

What are the Effects of Cooking Rice in a Pressure Cooker

By , September 1, 2012

It’s well known that cooking rice in a pressure cooker reduces cooking time by half.  What about the cooking result? Users told us that rice cooked in Instant Pot is softer, stickier and tasted better.  We want to find out what scientists say about this.  It turns out that there are quite a few scientific research projects on this subject.  The effects of pressure cooking rice, grains and legumes can be summarized on 3 aspects.

1. Texture Change

Cooking under pressure or at higher temperature starch in rice gelatinizes to the maximum degree. This is why pressure cooked rice has a softer and stickier grain texture in comparison to boiled and steamed rice at normal pressure. Under electronic microscope, a grain of rice appears to have more pores when cooked under pressure. Please see the images between magnified 500 and 5000 times. These pores make the rice looks a bit off-white (greyish). Furthermore, tough fibers in brown rice and bran are significantly softer which give the food a better tasting texture.

Rice grain cooked under pressure. Magnified 500 times

Rice grain cooked under pressure. Magnified 500 times

Rice grain cooked at normal pressure. Magnified 500 times

Rice grain cooked at normal pressure. Magnified 500 times

Rice grain cooked under pressure. Magnified 5000 times

Rice grain cooked under pressure. Magnified 5000 times

Rice grain cooked at normal temperature. Magnified 5000 times

Rice grain cooked at normal temperature. Magnified 5000 times

2. Improving Digestibility and Increasing Nutritional Value

Starch gelatinization, a change of structure into a form that resembles gelatin, improves digestibility. Pressure cooking rice, grains and beans produces positive nutritional gain, from the increased digestibility of the macronutrients (protein, fiber and starch) and the increased bioavailability of the essential minerals.

Aflatoxin-producing members of Aspergillus are common and widespread in nature.

Aflatoxin-producing members of Aspergillus are common and widespread in nature.

3. Eliminating Harmful Fungi and Bacteria

Rice, if not stored properly, may carry fungal poisons called aflatoxins, a potent trigger of liver cancer. A survey found that 6% of uncooked rice collected from markets in Seoul contained aflatoxins.  Conventional boiling and steaming rice at under 100°C (212°F) is not sufficient to kill all aflatoxins. Study had shown that pressure cooking at higher than 100°C (212°F) was capable of reducing aflatoxin concentrations to safe levels.

 

Use your pressure cooker for rice cooking.  This will make your rice taste better, more digestible and nutritious, and most importantly carcinogenic aflatoxin free.

 

References

  • Kataria A, Chauhan BM.: “Contents and digestibility of carbohydrates of mung beans (Vigna radiata L.) as affected by domestic processing and cooking”. Plant Foods Human Nutrition . 1988;38(1):51-9.
  • Leelayuthsoontorn P, Thipayarat A.  “Textural and morphological changes of Jasmine rice under various elevated cooking conditions”.  Food Chemistry, 2006, 96(4): 606-613
  • Rashmi S, Urooj A. “Effect of processing on nutritionally important starch fractions in rice varieties”.  International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. Jan. 2003, 54(1):27-36.
  • Sagum, R., Jayashree Arcot. “Effect of domestic processing methods on the starch, non-starch polysaccharides and in vitro starch and protein digestibility of three varieties of rice with varying levels of amylose.” Food Chemistry 2000 Vol. 70 No. 1 pp. 107-111
  • Eating Well: ”What is the Effect of Pressure Cooking on Nutrition?”
  • Science News: “Putting the Pressure on Poisons”