One More Reason to Love Your Multi-Cooker
Deciding to rely on word-of-mouth advertising is a gutsy move for any new startup, but the Canadian manufacturers of the Instant Pot made it look easy. The Instant Pot's sleek, modern take on pressure cooking has made it a must-have kitchen gadget. Its timers and multiple settings are ideal for busy moms, letting you crank out anything from a gourmet meal to a simple hard boiled egg in a hurry. Boiling an egg isn't actually any quicker in the Instant Pot, but the timer-controlled cooking and quick, easy peeling make it a lot less fuss.
Stages of Pressure Cooking
The Instant Pot is an electronically controlled refinement of the old fashioned stovetop pressure cooker, with a few extra functions such as yogurt making and slow cooking added as a bonus. When you cook with pressure in your Instant Pot, it takes place in three distinct steps: coming up to pressure, the actual cooking time and the time to release the pressure. Recipes tend to focus on the actual cooking time, but ignore the pressurization step and especially how the release method can affect your results. That's especially true for eggs, because they cook quickly and there's such a fine line between soft, hard and overcooked.
Getting Into Eggs
The official Instant Pot website describes hard boiled eggs as one of the first things new owners are likely to try, but you'll find differing methods online – and even on the Instant Pot site itself – so it's difficult to know which way is best without risking a few eggs of your own. There are actually three different methods that result in nicely hard boiled eggs, but they involve different techniques:
- Low Pressure, Natural Release. Pour a cup of cold water into the pot, and place a trivet over the water. Carefully set up to 6 large eggs on the trivet, then close and lock the Instant Pot's lid. Set it for 5 minutes at the low pressure setting, and walk away. When your Instant Pot beeps to say the cycle is over, press the Cancel button and wait for the pressure to come down on its own. That usually takes 6 or 8 minutes, while the eggs finish cooking in the residual heat. To complete, unlock and remove the lid and use a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon to take the eggs out. If you're not serving them right away, put them in a bowl of ice water to chill and stop cooking.
- Low Pressure, Quick Release. Bloggers Amy and Jacky of Pressure Cook Recipes have two different techniques for hard boiled eggs, which are featured on the official Instant Pot website. The first also uses the low pressure setting. Start the same way, by pouring a cup of cold water into the Instant Pot and then setting the eggs on a trivet. Close and lock the Instant Pot's lid, and set it for 12 minutes of cooking time at low pressure. When the beep sounds to announce the end of the cycle, press Cancel and turn the steam release handle on the Instant Pot's lid to the Venting position. This lets heat and steam out of the pot immediately instead of trapping it. Once you've released the steam, take the lid off—being careful not to let any residual steam burn you—and transfer the eggs to cold water to chill. This is sometimes slightly faster than the natural-release method.
- High Pressure, Quick Release. A third option uses the Instant Pot's high pressure setting, which produces a greater cooking temperature inside the pot. Again, set your eggs on a trivet over one cup of cold water and lock the lid in place. This time, set the Instant Pot for 8 minutes' cooking time at high pressure. When the beep sounds to announce the end of the cooking time, press Cancel and turn the steam release handle to the Venting position. This is the quickest of the three methods.
Freshness and Ease of Peeling
You can hard boil eggs conventionally in about the same length of time it takes in the Instant Pot, but the high-tech device offers one significant advantage over the traditional method. It's a lamentable fact that the freshest, best-tasting eggs are fiendishly difficult to peel when they're boiled, and that eggs a week or two older are much easier to work with. Cooking under pressure changes that because the cooking method makes the eggs separate cleanly from the protective membrane lining the shell. This alone can save you some real time when you're preparing lunches, plus being able to use those super-fresh farmer's market eggs is an added bonus.
- Bon Appetit: The Instant Pot Will Change Your Life -- No Joke
- National Public Radio: Not Just a Crock -- The Viral Word-of-Mouth Success of Instant Pot
- Hip Pressure Cooking: Cracked! Soft, Medium and Hard Boiled Eggs in the Pressure Cooker
- InstantPot.com: Hard Boiled Eggs
- Pressure Cook Recipes: Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.