Can You Deep Fry in an Instant Pot?

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Deep-fried food is basically everyone’s guilty pleasure. Although we know that it’s not the best type of cuisine health-wise, everyone will agree that there is basically no food that doesn’t taste better after some deep frying.

But what are all the different methods and dishes you can use for deep frying? Is it possible to deep fry in an instant pot? These are the questions we’ll be tackling in this article. Stay tuned to find out whether you can use your instant pot for deep frying.

Frying Food Methods

There are several different methods to fry your food. For example, you can shallow fry. For this, use the deepest standard cooking pan you have (if it’s too shallow, the oil will splatter everyone around the pan). For this, you need to add some oil to the pan, heat it up a notch, and add the food you want to deep fry. Turn the food regularly to cook it evenly.

On the other hand, you can also do pressure frying. This method is a variation of pressure cooking. What happens is that you are bringing the cooking oil and the food that you want to deep fry to a very high temperature, but the pressure is held high, which ultimately leads to food being done faster, and the food will generally be very warm and very juicy once done.

Finally, there is deep frying which is usually done either in a deep pot or in a deep fryer (yes, there is a special dish for that). All you need to do is put enough oil in a pot and then submerge the item you wish to cook in the oil.

Instant Pot

So, you have purchased an instant pot, but you’re not sure what can you do with it, and what are the best ways to use it?

Well, an instant pot is a type of multicooker. That means that it has a variety of ways that you can make use of it. An instant pot can replace a variety of other pots, so it’s a great choice if you want to save up both money and space in your kitchen. It’s an all-in-one type of appliance you can use to make slow-cooked food, for cooking rice, steaming your vegetables, sauteing, or simply warming your food.

This type of pot is a relatively new solution, as it was introduced for the first time in 2010, yet, by now, many different models have been introduced to the market, and people are using instant pots for a variety of purposes. The sizes usually range from 3 to 8 quarts.

Can You Deep Fry in an Instant Pot

As you saw in the previous paragraph, there are not too many things that you can’t do with your instant pot. However, deep-frying is one of those things that you can’t use your instant pot for.

This type of pot is simply not intended to be used as a deep fryer. It seems feasible to just put oil in the pot and set it up so that it doesn’t use any pressure while cooking (in case it’s also a pressure cooker), however, it’s still not the best use that you can make of your instant pot.

The problem here is even bigger if you are dealing with an electric pressure cooker, and if you put a large amount of oil inside and heat it up to a very high temperature, it can result in a fire. It’s not certain to happen, but there is a certain risk of the pot scorching and being set on fire, and that’s a kind of risk most of us simply shouldn’t take.

One more thing to have in mind is that any instant pot, especially if it’s also a pressure cooker, is meant to only use water and steam while working. Adding any oil and heating it up is already contrary to the safety recommendations.

In addition, valves for emergency pressure release along with some other features might not operate properly if there is oil involved, which can ultimately result in unwanted accidents.

Another reason why deep-frying is not a very good idea with instant pots is that you actually can’t get the pot hot enough to deep fry the food. If you’d try to prepare fries in your instant pot, you’d very likely end up with some poorly boiled, too soft potato pieces. No matter how high you set the temperature up, you won’t get the oil to the desired temperature to fry your meal. You will probably end up poorly cooking your meal, damaging the pot, or even completely destroying it.

Cooking in boiling oil takes too much time and requires a lot of care and attention. Cleaning the instant pot after such an activity can be very difficult, or even impossible after repeated trials.

Conclusion

Using an instant pot to deep fry may seem like a good solution. E.g. covering a chicken in batter, putting it in an instant pot, and heating it up – sounds simple and effortless. Many people had this idea: why wouldn’t I use my instant pot like a deep fryer, since it already has such a versatile use.

The reality is that you can’t use the instant pot like a deep fryer, as it’s impossible to achieve a satisfyingly high temperature to actually fry the food, and also, it’s dangerous. You can damage the pot to the extent that it’s useless, or even worse, set fire to your home.

Deep frying requires a special type of pot, as cooking in boiled oil requires a certain depth of the pot, but also, resistance to heat, and ability to heat up to high temperatures.

However, with the instant pot, there are so many recipes you can try, that will make you forget deep frying. Deep-fried food is truly far from a healthy option, which is why it’s extremely tasty. Luckily, preparing food in an instant pot will make other food preparation methods just as tasty.

What Oil Should I Use in My Deep Fryer?

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Is it just us or there’s something magical about deep-fried foods? Whether we’re talking about french fries, onion rings, chicken wings, or fish sticks, deep frying adds a signature flavor and a delicious crunchy texture that always leaves you craving for more.

Yet, trying to recreate KFC’s fried chicken is a slippery slope. There are so many things that can affect the result. Many end up disappointed when they realize that the flavor and texture are a bit off. So, what can you do to become a true frying master?

The first thing you should look at is the oil. Since the food is completely submerged in the oil for the entire cooking process, the properties and flavor of the oil can significantly impact how the food tastes.

Another issue is the price and healthiness of frying oils. You might have heard that avocado oil is very healthy, but is it worth it when you have to pay around $8 for a cup? Is there a healthy alternative that won’t cost an arm and a leg?

To address all these questions, we’ll review and rank the most popular oils for deep frying. This will help you decide what’s the best oil for your deep fryer. Whether you’re looking for a healthier, tastier, or cheaper option, we have your back.

How Can Oil Affect Food in a Deep Fryer?

To be able to make a smart decision, you need to understand how the properties of oils can affect the food’s quality and taste. Can some oils make the food crispier? Can others make the food taste weird?

Yes to all, but there’s more. There are several different ways in which the oil affects the food that you need to consider.

Smoke Point

The first consideration refers to the oil’s smoke point. And, this is something that’s commonly discussed over the internet. The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to break down and burn. By burning, we mean that the oil’s chemical composition is altered and potentially toxic molecules are being released. When this happens, the oil gets a bad taste, but more importantly, it makes the food unhealthy.

Taste Naturality

The second consideration is associated with the oil’s taste naturality. Unlike the smoke point, taste naturality does not affect the food’s quality, but it’s very important for flavor. Different oils are more or less suited for different food types. However, we also need to consider that taste is subjective. What some people might enjoy, others might find repulsive. For this reason, the best oils for deep frying are usually the ones that have a very natural taste. This allows for the flavor of the food ingredients to be accented and removes the possibility of flavor mixing.

Nonetheless, we’ll include the taste of each oil we review as some people might want to experiment with different tastes.

Nutritional Profile of Oils

The third consideration is the nutritional profile of oils, which affect the food’s quality i.e health and safety. Different oils have different compositions of fats (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated (PUFAs), etc.) that react very differently under high temperatures. For instance, even though PUFAs are considered healthy fat, because of their composition, they’re unstable when heated. This means that they break down at high temperatures releasing some harmful chemicals. For these reasons, oils with low amounts of PUFAs are better for deep-frying.

Additionally, oils vary in their caloric density, antioxidant profile, and other nutritional values, so make sure to factor in these things as well.

Cooking Practices

Last but not least, the taste and quality of food depend on how often you change the oil and what you cook with it. This one is a no-brainer, but you might be surprised to learn that even cooking only twice with the same oil can sometimes be disastrous. Does this mean that you need to change the oil after each use? No, but there are a few things you need to consider.

Cooking any food inside the oil will leave residue, especially when we’re talking about taste. Therefore, the second meal’s flavor will be affected by the first meal. Before we wrap up this article, we’ll explain in greater detail how often you should change the oil and what type of food should never be cooked one after another in the same oil.

The Best Oil for Deep Frying

Now that you know what you need to factor in to choose the best oil for your deep-fryer, let’s review the most popular oils for deep frying.

Vegetable Oil – Best Overall

You may be surprised, but the cheapest oil for deep frying is also the best one – vegetable oil. This is what most restaurants and companies in the food industry use. It’s also what you’ll find as the number one recommendation everywhere on the internet.

There are several reasons why vegetable oil stands out from the others.

First, vegetable oil has a very high smoking point. It’s labeled as a high heat oil, with a smoke point between 400° and 450° (depending on the brand).

Second, vegetable oil is highly refined oil which means that it’s very taste neutral. Unrefined oils, although healthier and better for salad dressings or low heat meals, usually have a very intense flavor – think extra virgin olive oil or virgin coconut oil. And, we’ve already discussed the benefits of taste naturally when choosing an oil for deep frying.

Third, it’s cost-effective. In other words, vegetable oil is usually one of the cheapest options on the market and can be reused several times making it even more cost-effective. If we consider that you need a large volume of oil to deep-fry, the price is not an insignificant matter.

The downside to deep frying with vegetable oil is that it’s not very healthy. It does have a high smoking point, which is good, but unfortunately, it also has a high amount of unsaturated fats, which tend to oxidize at high temperatures. But, how big of a problem this is will depend on the exact mix of oils used in the vegetable oil. So, make sure to check out the ingredient label before buying vegetable oil. This is especially important for people with allergies. Let’s explain a little bit more.

What Exactly Is Vegetable Oil?

The term vegetable oil can be applied to all oils extracted from seeds or from other parts of fruits. This includes but it’s not limited to soybean oil, sunflower seed oil, olive oil, palm oil, canola oil, and more. However, in this context, we’re talking about the label “vegetable oil” on oil bottles in a supermarket.

What’s the difference?

Commercially produced vegetable oil is most commonly a mix of highly refined plant-derived oils such as corn oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil. These oils are blended together in different concentrations for maximum cost-effectiveness, naturality, and to manipulate the smoke point.

Yet, depending on the brand and particular mix some can be better than others. For instance, avoid brands that use palm oil, especially in high concentrations.

Olive Oil – Healthiest Oil

Our second pick for deep frying is olive oil, especially for people who want the best of the best regardless of price.

The smoke point of olive oil depends on refinement. Regular olive oil has a smoke point of about 240°C whilst extra virgin olive oil is around 190°C. Also, regular olive oil (refined) has a more natural taste, although its flavor and fragrance are known to affect the taste of the food.

To conclude, we recommend olive oil because it’s healthy. It has a very high amount of antioxidants which rightfully makes it one of the healthiest oils out there.

However, the downsides of using olive oil for deep frying include the high price tag, its relatively low smoke point, and the more or less intense flavor (which might be a benefit to some people who enjoy the flavor).

Canola Oil – Best Lower-Fat Alternative

Another very popular choice for deep frying is canola oil. The reasons for this choice are plenty, but most people love how healthy it is while still having a high smoking point.

Canola oil is derived from the rapeseed plant. It’s light in color and has a very neutral flavor. Because of this, most chefs love to work with canola oil. It lets the flavor of the food really stick out.

On top of that, refined canola oil is specifically made for deep frying because that brings its smoking point up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit  – more than you’ll ever need for deep frying.

And, finally, the third benefit is that refined canola oil is widely available at a very low price point. Depending on where you live you can even find canola oil for $2 to $3 per quart.

The only downside to canola oil is that it’s not very nutritious, especially when talking about highly refined canola oil. Except for maybe vitamins E and K, canola oil is not a good source of vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants. This means that the consumed calories from canola oil will be empty calories – ones that do not add any health benefit.

Peanut Oil – Best for Natural, Slightly Nutty Flavor

Last but not least, a smart choice for deep frying can also be peanut oil, also known as groundnut oil. Peanut oil has a smoking point of around 446°F and a natural, yet slightly nutty flavor that blends well with fried foods.

However, there are some concerns when it comes to peanut oil. The first obvious one is allergies to peanuts. And, while highly refined peanut oil is labeled as safe even for people with allergies, it still might be best to stay away from it just to be on the safe side.

Second, peanut oil contains around 32% polyunsaturated fats, which is comparatively higher than our other recommendations. This would mean that using it raw is better than others, when heated it’s more vulnerable to oxidation.

Finally, it’s a little pricer than canola oil, but for people that for whatever reason are looking for an alternative, peanut oil is a great choice.

Other Popular Options

For those who want to experiment, there are always more alternatives to try out. For instance, avocado oil, coconut oil, and lard are also commonly chosen for deep frying. Here’s why.

Avocado Oil

If you google what is the healthiest oil, you’ll probably end up seeing avocado oil topping all lists. The reason for this is simple: avocado oil is incredibly nutritious and has an amazingly high smoke point – around 520 °F (refined).

Still, even refined avocado oil has a very specific and mild, buttery flavor. It’s a neutral flavor that works for both savory and sweet recipes, even though not everyone might enjoy it.

On top of that, avocado oil is incredibly expensive and not everyone can afford it, which is the main reason why we didn’t include it in our top four oils for deep frying.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is another good choice for deep frying. It has a really high smoke point of around 365°F, and because of the saturated fats, it’s incredibly stable even when exposed to high temperatures for long periods of time. Some studies have confirmed that the stability and quality of coconut oil remain intact after 8 hours of continuous deep frying.

This resilience to heat comes from the fact that around 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated, which is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it makes the oil resilient to heat and a great choice for deep frying, but organizations such as the American Heart Association have warned against the consumption of saturated fats.

Still, it is fair to note that currently, there’s no scientific consensus on whether saturated fats are big bad guys like they’re commonly portrayed. There’s evidence for both arguments.

Another drawback against coconut oil is that it has a very specific flavor that some people might not enjoy. Plus, because it is naturally sweet, it might not be suitable for some types of foods.

Lard

Lard is the most common option for people that choose animal fat, although tallow, ghee, and fat drippings are also used.

The benefits of using lard when deep frying is flavor and resilience to heat. Lard is said to make the food extra crispy, which most people enjoy.

When it comes to quality, lard is mostly composed of saturated and monounsaturated fats – all highly resilient to heat. That being said, it’s interesting that the animal’s diet can affect the fat composition of the lard. For example, if the animal was fed mainly with grains, the lard might contain a higher amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, compared to grass-fed animals.

Because of this, you should find lard from animals that have been allowed to roam and eat naturally – graze. It’s not something that’s easy to find, so make sure you trust the source from where you buy the lard.

How Often Should I Change the Oil in My Deep Fryer?

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that changing the oil at the right time is very important and can affect both the quality and taste of your food. But, how often should you change the oil, and what oil is best for which type of food?

The general rule of thumb, which is also the short answer, is to change the oil every eight to ten uses. But, if you want to really master your skills at deep-frying and nail the taste each and every time there are a few more things you need to consider.

The following signs show that it’s time to change the oil regardless of whether you’ve used it eight to ten times.

It’s Time to Change the Oil When:

  • You notice that it begins to release smoke sooner than normal.
  • You notice that it has changed color. If it becomes darker it means that its chemical composition is compromised and harmful substances have been released, as well as residue from previous foods.
  • You notice a rancid or burned smell. If the oil begins to smell, change it immediately.
  • You notice that the texture becomes thicker. This is another bad sign that indicates it’s time to change the oil.

Still, the most important consideration when dividing when it’s the best time to change the oil is its smoke point and polyunsaturated fatty acid content. If you choose an unrefined oil with a lower smoke point, then you need to change it a lot more frequently. For instance, coconut and avocado oil can be re-used for a longer period of time, unlike olive oil which should be changed almost every time you cook.

Can you fry different foods in the same oil?

Another thing to consider when deciding how often you can re-use the same oil is the type of food you fry.

Some things are pretty obvious. For instance, if you’re cooking something sweet, such as donuts or pancakes, you should not use the same oil for frying french fries or chicken afterward. Conclusion: Do not fry sweet and savory foods in the same oil!

However, sometimes even foods that complement each other and make a great meal together should not be fried in the same oil one after another. One example that comes to mind is fish and french fries. You can fry french fries then fish, but frying fish then french fries is a bad idea because the french fries will then taste a little fishy.

Try to always fry foods that have a more subtle and mild taste such as french fries and chicken leaving the more intense-flavored foods such as onions, goat cheese, sausages, pork, fish, seafood, for last.

In fact, if you can afford it, keeping the oil separate for only one or two types of foods is best when it comes to taste.

Conclusion

Fried foods are widely consumed all over the world as they’re part of many cultures traditional cuisine, but are also a staple in the fast-food industry. Because of this, knowing how to properly prepare a delicious, tender, yet crispy meal is an important task that begins with choosing the right oil for deep frying.

Needless to say, there are many options, even though experts can’t seem to agree on what’s the best or healthiest oil to deep fry with. There is conflicting information circling online and scientists still haven’t reached a consensus when it comes to frying with oils, which makes it more difficult to separate the myths from the truths.

We hope that our article was a helpful guide that makes this challenge a little easier. By focusing on the facts and providing instructions on what makes an oil suitable for deep frying, we believe that you can now make a smarter decision that works best for you. Whether you want to prioritize your health, flavor, or find an affordable option that’s still healthy, we got your back.

Finally, remember that choosing the right oil for deep frying is just as important as your cooking practices. In other words, re-using the oils for longer periods of time can have the same effect as using an unsuitable for just once. Also, frying different types of foods in one oil can be tricky. Be mindful of these things when choosing what oil to buy and don’t be afraid to experiment to find the right one for your deep fryer.

How to Stuff Sausage Casings

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There’s nothing better than making your own sausage. Not only because you can choose your favorite meat and cook it based on your preferences, but also because you can flavor it how you want. The spices are where the magic is in the sausage-making business. And making your own sausage is in fact easier than you may have thought it would be.

In this article we’ll go over how you can make a sausage from start to finish and talk about each step in-depth, so by the time you’re done reading, you may be a sausage expert in the making. We’ll discuss how you can pick the right casings, how to flavor the sausage, and many other steps in between which if you follow, you’ll end up with the tastiest sausage you’ve ever made.

The Prep Before You Start Making Your Homemade Sausages

There are some preparations that you need to do before you start making your sausages, and we’ll cover those first.

Mise-en-Place

Mise-en-place is an important French culinary phrase that covers the preparation process or putting everything in place before you start cooking, and that’s the first step towards making your sausages. The process includes:

  • Reading the entire recipe;
  • Preparing the workspace;
  • Gathering the equipment;
  • Gathering the ingredients;
  • Preparing the ingredients and placing them in bowls.

The Meat

After you’ve collected all the ingredients in one place, it’s time to prep the meat. An essential step when handling meat is keeping both the meat and the equipment as cold as possible before you start stuffing the sausages. This makes sure that your meat grinder or stuffer nozzle doesn’t clog up as you try to make your sausages. To keep the meat cold, simply keep it in the refrigerator until the very last moment, or even place it in the freezer for 15 minutes before you start making the sausages.

The Sausage Casings

Another key ingredient apart from the meat is the sausage casings which come in two varieties, natural casings, and synthetic casings, and each needs to be prepared accordingly.

The natural casings should be soaked in cold water for about 30 minutes in order to remove the excess salt before you start making the sausages. Afterward you need to rinse them thoroughly under cold water and go through the whole casing by placing the end of the casing under the faucet and filling it up like a balloon. Then you need to push the water from one end to the end of the other with your hands, and your casings will be squeaky clean.

Synthetic casings, on the other hand, need much less work before you can start filling them with the sausage meat as you only need to soak them in water for about 5 minutes. This makes the casings pliable and easier to fill once you have the filling ready.

Generally, you would use casings with a 21-23 mm diameter for smaller stuffer tubes, while for larger stuffer tubes you’d opt for the 28-30mm diameter casings.

How to Stuff Sausage Casings

If you’ve never tried making your own sausages, this process may seem a bit elaborate, but it’s definitely gonna be worth it. Follow the steps below to make the most delicious homemade sausages that you’ve ever tried.

Chopping and Grinding the Meat

The first step after you’ve done the mise-en-place, rinsed the casings, and chilled the meat is chopping the meat and preparing it to go in the grinder. For this step, you need to take your meat out of the fridge or freezer and cut it into 1-inch pieces. After that, you can return it to the fridge until it’s time to grind it.

After it’s properly chilled and you have your grinder ready to go, you can take the meat out of the fridge and start grinding it. Use the coarse attachment to get a chunky texture or the fine attachment for an integrated texture. Return the meat to the fridge after you’ve ground it.

The Spices

Make your favorite spice blend and combine them with garlic and a small amount of either vinegar, water, or wine depending on which you prefer. If you’re adding mustard powder or paprika, first combine the liquid with the mustard, add the paprika, and then add the other spices. This step will ensure that all the herbs, spices, and salts are well incorporated in the meat. Mix the meat and spices by hand, and you’re ready for the next step.

The Taste Test

Before you start stuffing the sausages, it’s time for the taste test. Get your frying pan out and cook a bit of the sausage filling. After it’s done, try it and check whether the mixture has enough spices, salt, and add more if necessary. If you’re satisfied with the result, proceed to the nest step.

Emulsification

Some types of sausages and meat products require that you emulsify the meat and create a meat paste that you’ll stuff in the casing. For this you’ll need your food processor and a few ice cubes to balance out the heat that the equipment will produce. Place your meat and ice cubes in the food processor and process the mixture in ½ pound batches for about 1 minute per batch. Place the mixture in the fridge once more.

Its Stuffing Time

Take your sausage stuffer out, place it on your workstation, and add a sheet pan under the stuffer to catch the drippings. Apply vegetable or canola oil to the nozzle to make sure that the meat doesn’t stick to the nozzle once you start pushing the sausage. Take the sausage filling out of the fridge, and you’re ready to stuff some sausages.

Take the end of the casing and place it around the stuffer nozzle. Put the meat in the stuffer and start pushing the meat until it’s poking out of the nozzle end. Tie the knot at the end of the casing, and then you can start pushing the meat mixture inside the casing. Make sure that you push it slow and steady to prevent your casing from ripping apart.

During this step, you need to also be aware of some air pockets that may form on the sausages. Don’t worry about them. Remember not to pack the meat too tightly when making a coil because you may not be able to divide them into individual sausages effectively. And in just a few minutes, you’ll have your sausages ready.

Snipping and Twisting

The last step is separating the individual sausages. To do this, redistribute the meat evenly across the casing if you see that the sausage isn’t even throughout the whole length of the casing. Then pinch sausage links every 4, 6, or 8 inches and twist the 1st and 3rd link in the same direction throughout the length to twist 3 links at the same time. Finally, it’s time to snip the sausages by cutting between the links.

Final Thoughts

While sausage-making isn’t very difficult as you may have concluded after reading the previous articles, it really takes both dedication and having a nice spice blend to make the perfect sausage. However, the star of the show will always be the meat, so purchasing high-quality meat is imperative. Each step is essential to getting the best possible sausage out of your meat.

Finally, you can take your grill out and give yourself the opportunity to enjoy your homemade sausage as it should be enjoyed – grilled to perfection. We hope you enjoy the process and that the end result is according to your liking. And if your sausages turned out to be a hit, why not invite some friends over so you can share your culinary masterpiece with them. Have a nice meal!

How to Use an Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker

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For many, the Instant Pot is a smart investment. This multi-purpose kitchen appliance can save space, time, money, and energy. However, that’s only true if you know how to get the most out of it. And, many people are missing out by using the Instant Pot for pressure cooking only.

In an Instant Pot, you can do almost if not everything – from sauces and yogurts to air-frying healthy snacks, or dehydrating fruits. In fact, you can even prepare an elaborate and delicious dinner for your loved ones without being stuck in the kitchen for hours on end. The whole process is easier than you think.

In this article, we’ll explain how to use an Instant Pot as a slow cooker and what the benefits are. But, first, let’s talk about slow cooking in general.

Why Slow Cooking?

The Instant Pot is notorious for shortening the cooking time for incredibly long recipes. That’s why so many people with busy schedules swear by it. But, with that in mind, what can we expect when we want to use the slow cooking method for our meal?

Just like baking, frying, deep-frying, or simmering, slow cooking is a specific method of preparing food. It relies on using low heat for a long amount of time, hence the name.

The reason why people sometimes prefer to slow cook a meal is related to texture and taste, but also health. Foods that are prepared over low heat are more nutritious, taste better (more intense flavor), and are usually a lot more tender in texture.

Slow cooking is usually done with a special kitchen appliance called a ‘slow cooker.’ Basically, this is an electronically heated (with few settings), ceramic bowl with a glass lid that offers three main benefits:

  • hands-off cooking;
  • conservation of energy;
  • extraction of flavor.

Slow cookers offer incredible convenience. You can leave the food unsupervised for a long period of time while you tend to your other responsibilities – without impacting the quality of food.

Slow Cooking With an Instant Pot

From the description, you might have noticed that slow cookers have a lot in common with the Instant Pot. This is not a coincidence. The Instant Pot is designed to be a multi-cooker with pressure cooking, sautéing, slow cooking, steaming, rice cooking, and yogurt making as some of its best features.

So, if you were wondering whether you can slow cook in an Instant Pot, we’re here to assure you that you absolutely should, and here’s how!

How to Use an Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker?

Contrary to popular belief, slow cooking is not an intimidating or complex process. In fact, slow cookers are made for one-pot recipes that require almost no food preparation. In most cases, slow cooking means cutting the ingredients into large chunks, adding seasoning, liquid, and pushing a button. Doesn’t sound like you need chef’s skills to do it, right?

Nevertheless, you do need confidence, which is why, we’re going to break down the process, step-by-step.

A Few Considerations Before You Start

Let’s start by making sure that you have everything ready to start cooking – and we don’t mean the ingredients for your chosen recipe.

There are two important considerations you need to know before slow cooking in an Instant Pot.

The first one is the glass lid. As we already mentioned, slow cookers are traditionally made with a glass lid that allows a little bit of steam and moisture to escape the cooker. However, the standard lid for the Instant Pot has an air-tight lock mechanism that completely traps steam and moisture – perfect for pressure cooking but not slow cooking.

You might already have a glass lid as it’s a common accessory for the Instant Pot, but if you don’t you can buy one from Amazon. The glass lid won’t cost more than $30, but if you haven’t bought an Instant Pot yet, it’s a smart idea to get one that has a glass lid included.

The second consideration concerns the recipe adjustment. What we mean by this is that adding water or broth is really important when pressure cooking with an Instant Pot, and also for slow cooking in general. However, since the two cooking methods are very different, the liquid concentration needs to be adjusted. This is also true when you’re following recipes designed for a slow cooker.

The rule of thumb is that you won’t need more than a cup of liquid when using the slow cooking setting in the Instant Pot. However, to make sure you have just the right measurements, let’s see how to convert any recipe into an Instant Pot recipe.

How to Make Slow Cooker to Instant Pot Conversions

Liquid Concentration

The first difference you may notice in some slow cooking recipes is that they might ask for no liquid at all. And, that’s okay. When you’re using a slow cooker, you don’t need a liquid, but it’s a very different story when using the Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot needs liquid, even when using the slow cooking setting. If your original recipe is without liquid, add around at least 1 cup of liquid.

If you’re worried about creating a watered-down version of your recipe, you have two options:

  • Use the steamer basket (accessory) to keep your food above the water line.
  • Use the Saute function after the slow cooking to boil off excess liquid.

Time Adjustment

The second difference between slow cooker and Instant Pot recipes is the time. Since they’re two different appliances with different properties, the time to cook the food won’t be the same for the two.

Most slow cookers have three settings:

  • Low setting – cooking time can take 9+ hours (cooking usually starts the day before).
  • Medium setting – cooking time is up to 6 hours.
  • High setting – cooking time is up to 4 hours.

In slow cookers, the max temperature is around 209 °F regardless of setting. The low and high options refer to how much time it takes for the cooker to reach a simmer point – not the temperature with which it will cook the food.

The Instant Pot’s Slow Cooking setting has three options which are temperature-associated:

  • Slow cooker setting + Less = cook at  190 °F.
  • Slow cooker setting + Normal = cook between 195-205 °F.
  • Slow cooker setting + More = cook at around 200-210 °F.

Usually, if the recipe says to use the low setting on a slow cooker, this would correspond to the less option of the slow cook setting in the Instant Pot. Alternatively, if the slow cooking recipe says that the meal needs to be cooked eight to nine hours, that’s your cue to use the less setting in the Instant Pot.

Disclaimer: In this article, we’re teaching you how to use the Instant Pot as a slow cooker. This means cooking just as you would in a slow cooker. However, since the Instant Pot is designed to speed things up, you can actually convert slow cooking recipes to Instant Pot recipes (pressure cooking) and achieve relatively the same result in less than an hour.

Using The Slow Cook Option

Let’s start cooking.

1. Prepare all the ingredients!

Cut all the ingredients into large chunks and place them inside the Instant Pot with at least one cup of liquid (water or broth). Alternatively add one cup of water into the Instant Pot and insert the steamer basket. Then, load all the ingredients into the steamer basket making sure that all the food is above the water line.

Tip: Be mindful about the amount of ingredients you need. You may need to scale down your recipe to fit, as you should be careful not to overfill the Instant Pot.

2. Place the Glass Lid on Top!

Do not close the Instant Pot with its standard top that has an air-tight lock mechanism because this will create pressure inside the pot. Instead, use the glass lid that comes as an accessory or the regular tempered glass lid that you bought from Amazon.

Tip: If you do not have a glass lid to use, then you can use the standard lid by putting the steam release handle in the venting position.

3. Press the “Slow Cook” button.

The next step is to plug in the device and choose the “Slow Cook” option by pressing the labeled button.

4. Set the Time.

The Instant Pot allows you to set the desired cooking time anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 hours. Use the “+” and “-” buttons to set the time. The buttons are under the time display where you can read the time you’ve chosen.

5. Choose the Cooking Mode.

Older models do not have a special button, but you need to press the “Slow Cook” button more than once to change the cooking mode – which you can read on the display. However, the newer models have three distinct buttons located next to Timer and above Manual. They read “Less,” “Normal,” and “More” and correspond to the standard settings of Low, Medium and High in most Crock-Pot slow cookers.

6. Wait 10 seconds!

Ten seconds after you push the last button the Instant Pot will start cooking. At this point, you can go about your day and leave the Instant Pot to do its business. You don’t even have to be there when it’s scheduled to finish. Once the timer runs off (cooking is complete), the Instant Pot will automatically shift to a “Keep Warm” setting for up to 10 hours. That’s all!

Conclusion

Cooking in the Instant Pot is a fuss-free experience regardless of what you want to prepare or how you want it prepared. Even when you want the benefits of a deciduous and tender, slow-cooked meal, you can press a few buttons and leave the Instant Pot to prepare the food while you go about your day.

In fact, with the Instant Pot and a glass lid you can mimic standard Crock-Pot slow cookers to the T. But, unlike traditional slow cookers, with the Instant Pot you can choose the exact time you need your meal to be ready – from 20 minutes to 20 hours. On top of that, the Instant has a smart function where it automatically shifts to keep the food warm (up to 10 hours) once it’s done cooking.

So, what are you waiting for? We hope that our guide gives you the confidence you need to start slow cooking some amazing recipes in yot Instant Pot making the most out of this magical multi-functional cooker.

How to Make Dried Sausages

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Somewhere between art and science, lies the skill of making dried sausages. The process can be quite simple if you wish, but you may also take it to a significantly higher level if you enjoy the process.

Why do we even dry sausages? Well, the primary reason is to preserve the meat that hasn’t been cooked, but if you’ve ever tried dried meat you are probably aware that it’s one of the best snacks that we enjoy on our dining tables.

Finally, everything that is homemade, from brewing your own beer to fermenting your dairy products, or drying your own sausages is extremely rewarding. What household is not proud of their own handmade products?

The beauty is in the fact that there will likely never be two same, generic products, neither between two households nor within the same one, as it’s impossible to hit the same taste every time.

Drying your own sausages means that you will carefully select your preferred type of meat, it will be free of any unwanted conservancy, and you get to pick and scale the rest of the ingredients.

In this article, we assume that you already know how to make sausages and that they are already prepared, sitting in your fridge, waiting for you to finish reading this tutorial to start drying them. Therefore, buckle up, we are going to teach you everything we know about drying sausages.

Curing Salts: Health Risk Prevention

When it comes to drying your own sausages, we have to be honest: there are certain health risks in case the drying process did not fully finish, or if you didn’t follow through with the procedure precisely. In such a scenario there is a certain danger of getting food poisoning as the meat may get infected by a certain type of bug called Clostridium botulinum which infests the central part of the sausage where there is no oxygen.

The reason why it is important to protect yourself from this bug is that it causes sickness and in certain severe cases it can even cause death.

However, despite the fact that this may sound terrifying, don’t give up on drying your sausages at home just yet, as there is a way to prevent this from happening: enter curing salts.

Curing Salts?

There is a slight difference between curing salts and regular table salt in their chemical structure. The curing salts usually contain high levels of sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate (around 0.2%), known for their bacteria repellent properties. When you are preparing your sausages for drying, make sure not to overdo it with curing salts. This too is not the best option for your health if consumed in overly large amounts.

The two types of salts are usually better to be used for different purposes. For example, the sodium nitrate usually converts to sodium nitrite after a period of time, so it’s better to use it if you plan on making a long meat-drying session. Sodium nitrite, on the other hand, is more appropriate for shorter projects.

To be sure that you use an optimal amount of curing salt, keep in mind that you should put no more than 2 tablespoons per every 2.2 pounds of meat.

Prepping for the Drying

Before you even start with the curing salts, you need to prepare the meat for drying. This means going through a series of pretty straightforward steps.

First, cut the meat into pieces. Don’t make them too small, but also not too big, as you will want to be able to store them somewhere afterward, so align the chunk size to the future storage place.

Then, remove excess fat. This means you shouldn’t remove all fat, as around 20% of the fat should remain, however, anything above that is not necessary and many people don’t like it in their dried meat.

The meat should also be cold because otherwise, it will clog the grinder. If you notice that it’s getting stuck, you can use cooking spray to make it pass more easily.

Once your sausage is ground, mix it with spices and seasoning. There are no rules here on what you’ll use and how much. Most people go according to their taste.

If you’re not sure what kind of spices to use, here are some of the most common ones:

  • Sea salt (however, you’ll be using curing salt, so watch out, you don’t want to make your sausages too salty);
  • Pepper;
  • Paprika;
  • Fennel;
  • Garlic;
  • Anis, etc.

During the seasoning process, you should add the curing salts.

The Drying of the Sausages

The first thing to think about before the drying process begins is the room temperature at which you are drying the meat. The ideal temperature for making dried sausages is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. So, a bit chilly, but not cold.

The next thing you need to optimize is the humidity. It needs to be between 65% and 75%, as anything lower than 60% may cause the sausage to dry really fast on the outside, leaving the inside completely undried. If the humidity of the room where you plan to dry the sausages is too low, you can enhance it in a simple way, by putting a bowl of water below the sausages. If you want to go more high-tech and have better control over humidity levels, you can use a humidifier and set it to around 70%.

How Do I Know That the Sausage Is Done?

Since the length of the meat drying process can somewhat vary depending on the meat itself and the conditions, the best way to rest assured that your meat has dried properly is to measure it.

If the sausage has lost around 30% of its initial weight, it’s most likely done.

Another detail that can tell you about how close you are to finishing the meat-drying is the formation of dry white mold on the outer layer. While in most cases mold is not something you want to see on your food, this type of mold is not only harmless but good.

If you see the black or green mold of your sausage, well, this means that something has gone wrong in the process and you should immediately get rid of that meat. If there is only a tiny bit of the black and/or green mold, you can also scrape it off with a piece of cloth that you have previously dipped in salty water.

Pro Tip: Alternative Way to Do Curing

While using curing salts to prevent the development of unwanted parasites inside of your sausage is the simplest and probably the best possible option, there is an alternative.

You can also use a starter culture (the same stuff you’d use for fermenting your dairy products). It’s recommended to use Bactoferm (LS-25). Add 2 ounces of Bactoferm to your salt mix to every 10 pounds of meat along with three ounces of dextrose.

The starter culture will then feed on the sugar and produce lactic acid, and this will then lower the pH value of the sausage and prevent the development of unwanted bacteria.

You should add this bacteria to the meat before the meat starts to dry. Also, you should first dissolve it in plain water. You should keep the starter culture in a warm and humid place for at least 24 hours, as this is the only way for the chemical process to begin.

Once you’ve added the starter to your sausage mix, put on a pair of latex gloves and start mixing. The seasoning should be as evenly spread as possible for the best flavor.

Adding the starter culture and letting it produce lactic acid will also add a bit of acidic taste to the sausage later, which is something that many people like.

Finally, put the sausage inside a casing (that you’ve previously soaked in water), by attaching the casing to the machine for stuffing, and closing the casing by making a knot on the opposite end. If you don’t have a sausage stuffing machine, you will find it quite hard to prepare the sausage for drying. Once you got the casing filled, you can tie it off and put it to dry.

Conclusion

The preparation of the meat in the sense of mincing and seasoning can be done in any way you like. You can leave more or less fat, you can mince it into smaller or leave some pieces larger, and of course, add spices according to your taste.

Curing salt is a must-do in order to prevent the development of unwanted bacteria, however, using a starter culture is also a good idea.

Remember: 30% of weight loss along with the appearance of white mold is a good sign that your sausage has been properly dried.

Making your own homemade sausages is rewarding and you can rest assured that these will always taste much better than the store-bought ones. However, you need to be careful, as meat drying can be dangerous.

If you follow these guidelines very closely, you will make wonderful safe-to-eat sausages, free of any unwanted bacteria.

How to Mince Meat?

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Minced meat is the core ingredient for a number of dishes such as hamburgers, Beef and Rhubarb Tarts, Indian Masala Kheema, and even Greek gyro meat. It has been part of a number of cuisines all over the world since it’s a versatile staple, it can be cooked in an instant, and it’s the easiest way to add meat to your diet.

But if minced meat is so readily available, you may ask yourself why you should even bother mincing it yourself when you can buy it at the store and have your dinner ready in no time. The following section will probably convince you against doing that. So, if you own a mince grinder, that’s definitely the easiest way to grind your meat, but if you don’t, then you should definitely stick around until the end of this article to find out why you should mince your own mean, and how you can do it.

Why You Should Ground Your Own Meat

There isn’t just one reason why it’s better to prep your own mince instead of buying it pre-minced from your local supermarket.

The Taste

While most of us are already used to the pre-ground meat, pre-packaged, meat that’s sold in stores, there’s a good reason why that should change. If you’ve ever tried homemade ground meat you probably know that both the flavor and the texture have nothing in common with pre-ground meat. So, for those of you out there who want to up the hamburger-making game, grinding your own meat will take the whole experience a few levels higher, and the final dish will taste like nothing you’ve ever imagined.

The Quality

Buying your meat pre-ground will definitely be a time-saver, but you’ll miss out on so much flavor. In fact, the pre-ground meat may even be of lower quality since the meat will have a higher fat content since fat is a cheaper product than lean meat. And once the meat sits too long on the shelf it starts to look dull, and in some cases, even gray. Even though the meat is probably safe, it won’t give your dish the same amount of flavor that freshly ground meat does.

The Cut

Another benefit to grinding your own meat is that you can have control over the cut that goes inside your mince, which isn’t the case when you’re buying pre-ground meat. You can also adjust the percentage of fat in your mixture, and even incorporate a blend of several cuts. Don’t avoid the fat as that can be the reason why your ground meat is too tough. You’d ideally go for 25% of fat in your meat but never go below 15%. And you can even save some money in the process if you even find the cut of meat you need on sale. So, why not start making the homemade ground meat that you’ll later use to make the perfect meatballs or your favorite burger?

Preparing Your Meat for Grinding

As we’ve already established, home-ground meat is way better than store-bought, but what if you don’t have a meat grinder? No worries, we’ve got you covered with our reviews linked above if you want to buy one. But before you start grinding your meat, there are a few preparations that need to be done.

The first step is to use a sharp knife and remove the excess fat, the skin, the bones, as well as the connective tissue from the meat. Next, you need to cut the meat into smaller, uniform pieces, about an inch big, and only then can you start mincing it.

Another important tip is to freeze the meat for a few minutes to get it to a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and once you take it out of the freezer you can keep it in a metal bowl that’s also been frozen to maintain the temperature as you go through all of the pieces. Depending on what you’ll be using to grind your meat, you may need to place the blender blade inside the freezer for 10-15 minutes as well.

Mince Meat Without a Grinder

If you have your own grinder, that would be the easiest method to grind your meat, however, you can make do with some other kitchen appliances that you probably do have.

Mince the Meat With a Sharp Knife

A chopping knife and a good chopping board are utensils that you find in every kitchen, and both are necessary to make mincemeat. Before you start chopping, make sure that your knife is sharp.

Step 1

Using your knife, slice the meat about ¼ inches thick at a 45-degree angle, but remember not to cut it all the way down.

Step 2

Flip your meat and repeat the first step.

Step 3

Flip the meat again and cut it at a 90-degree angle and cut ¼ inch- pieces as you did in the previous steps, and don’t cut all the way down.

Step 4

Flip the meat over and repeat the third step.

Step 5

Finally, pile up all your meat and chop it rapidly from left to right. Do this step until you’ve achieved the desired texture.

Mince the Meat With a Food Processor

If you have a food processor, you basically have your own meat grinder, so let’s use it to make homemade ground meat.

Step 1

Similar to how you need to freeze your meat for about half an hour before slicing it with a knife and making minced meat, the same goes when using the food processor. The first step is cutting the meat into small chunks.

Step 2

Next, you need to place the meat on a tin foil-lined baking sheet and stick it in the freezer for about half an hour. It’s a good idea to also place the blade from the food processor in the freezer as well.

Step 3

Add the meat to the food processor one handful at a time, and once you’re happy with the texture, scoop it into another bowl and repeat the process until all your meat is minced.

Take the Meat to Your Local Butcher

If you don’t want to bother with a kitchen cleanup, you don’t have a food processor, or you just don’t want to chop the meat by hand, you can always take your chosen cuts to the local butcher. Not only do they know how to professionally cut your meat, but they can also give you tips on which cut is best for the type of meat you’re preparing. They can even give you a recommendation for a mix of meats and cuts that you may have never thought would go well together, but the finished meal is the best one you’ve had in a while.

Which is the Best Option for Grinding Meat?

Even though using a meat grinder is the best option when grinding meat at home, not everyone has one at home, so, we try to make do with what we do have.

If you’re in a rush and you don’t want to deal with the cleanup from mincing your own meat, or you don’t have the necessary appliances at home, taking the meat to a butcher is the best idea, and you can even get some recommendations on which cut to buy for a specific meal.

On the other hand, if you enjoy developing your knife skills, the knife method is the right one for you. It’s the method that has stood the test of time, and it also gives you complete control of the size of the chunks, just make sure that you use a sharp knife.

Finally, you can always use your trusted food processor to mince your meat. This one device does wonders in your kitchen, not only for mincing meat but for all kinds of food preparation.

Grinding your meat without a grinder doesn’t have to mean that you compromise on quality as you can still get as good of a mince as you would when using a meat grinder, you just need to practice, practice, practice. Enjoy your homemade minced meat and use it in your favorite recipe for an elevated experience.

How to Fry Corn Dogs

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Corn dogs are delicious treats that are very popular at fairs, carnivals, sports events, and even family get-togethers. Despite being perceived mostly as “street food”, they are actually easier to make at home than you might think. And we are not just talking about frozen corn dogs. You can make corn dogs at home from scratch and prepare them in a variety of ways.

In addition to answering how to cook frozen corn dogs, today we also want to help you learn how to make your corn dogs from scratch as well as how to fry, bake, and cook them in different ways.

All the Ways You Can Cook Corn Dogs

There are a variety of ways you can cook your corn dogs. Although each preparation method will yield a different outcome, one thing is for certain: they’ll all taste delicious! Corn dogs can be fried, baked, and even be microwaved.

The cooking methods may vary depending on your choice of corn dogs. For example, you may want to exercise more caution while you’re deep-frying store-bought frozen corn dogs. Knowing these simple tips and tricks will save you a lot of headaches in your effort to enjoy tasty corn dogs at home!

How to Fry Corn Dogs

The most traditional and arguably the most delicious way to cook corn dogs is to fry them. That’s the way they have been prepared at carnivals and fairs for ages anyway. Frying the corn dog in a deep container filled with your cooking oil of choice is a great way to enjoy them. But are there some things you want to potentially look out for? Let’s find out.

How you fry your corn dogs will depend on whether you’re using store-bought, frozen corn dogs or fresh, homemade ones.

How to Fry Frozen Corn Dogs

One of the easiest ways to enjoy corn dogs is to buy pre-made ones, which are available in many grocery stores. You can simply remove the packaging, fry them, and enjoy them in mere minutes.

Fill a deep frying pan with enough of your oil of choice to submerge the corn dogs. Heat your oil to about 175-185°C or 350-375°F. If you’re using a deep fryer, you can just set it to preheat, but if you’re using a frying pan, using a cooking thermometer is a good way to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil.

When the oil reaches the desired temperature, submerge the corn dog in the oil and let it cook for about 8 to 9 minutes. The cooking process takes longer than it would with a fresh-made corn dog, but then again, you’re saving time on preparation.

How to Fry Homemade Corn Dogs

What’s better than a frozen corn dog? A freshly made one! The good thing about making corn dogs from scratch at home is that you get to choose the ingredient that makes or breaks a corn dog: the sausage.

Generally, corn dogs are made out of beef sausages but it’s not uncommon to make them out of pork sausages too. If you like, you can even experiment with vegetarian sausages.

Here is a great corn dog recipe you can try at home that also includes instructions on how to fry your fresh corn dogs:

Homemade Corn Dog Recipe

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yellow, finely-ground cornmeal
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Frying oil (vegetable oil)
  • 500 gr of beef sausages
  • Enough skewers for your sausages
  • Mustard and ketchup to serve

First, stick the skewers into the sausages firmly, so that they can hold the sausage when it’s dipped in batter. After finishing, start heating your oil to 175-185°C or 350-375°F and you can start working on the batter in the meantime.

What kind of frying oil you use is entirely up to you, but going with an oil that has a higher smoking point like peanut, avocado, or canola oil can give you the best results and will also be much safer.

While the oil heats up, combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. After that, combine all the wet ingredients in another bowl and mix. Once the mixtures are homogenous, combine them and whisk them together.

Once done, pour the batter mixture into a tall container; a tall glass usually works best in this case. Now, you are ready to dip your sausages into the batter. And the oil should be ready by now to start the frying process!

Dip the sausages straight down. You can shake the sausage a little bit inside the batter to ensure maximum coverage. When you pull it out of the glass, the sausage should be completely covered with the batter. Still, make sure to shake off any excess batter before frying the corn dog to keep your frying oil clean.

Pro-Tip: Slowly submerge the corn dog into the oil and safely hold it by the skewer for a few seconds before letting it hit the bottom of the pan. This way, your corn dogs won’t stick to the pan or the tray of the deep fryer.

Fry the corn dogs for about 3 minutes. You’ll see them becoming a deep, golden brown. From there, you can decide how fried and crispy you want them to be. Just be sure not to let them cook as long as frozen corn dogs, which need more time in the fryer.

You can let your freshly fried corn dogs cool down for a few minutes and then enjoy!

Can You Bake Corn Dogs in the Oven?

Another way you can enjoy your corn dogs is by baking them in the oven. Baking is a healthier alternative to frying because the process involves a lot less oil. You can cook both frozen and freshly-made corn dogs in the oven safely.

Spread the corndogs on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet and preheat your oven to 200-220°C or 390-420°F. Once ready, place the corn dogs in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on them and take them out of the oven when they reach that perfect golden color.

Another pro-tip we can give you is; when baking in the oven, try to avoid coating the corn dogs too thick. The batter may melt and separate from the sausage during the baking process.

Can You Cook Corn Dogs in the Microwave?

If you’re in a rush or simply don’t want to go through the trouble of preheating an oven or deep frying your corn dogs, you can also try cooking them in the microwave.

Although, as you may realize, this is a less-than-ideal method. Because there isn’t any circulating hot air or hot oil that consistently covers the corn dog, microwave-cooked corn dogs may not always cook evenly.

You can cook frozen hotdogs in the microwave on the highest setting for 50-60 seconds or if you thaw them out before cooking, 30 seconds should be enough. Sometimes, the outer shell may break during this process, so you can experiment with longer cooking times at lower heat settings.

It’s important to note that it may not be the best idea to cook homemade corndogs in the oven. The results may be very undesirable and inconsistent. So, if you really want to use the microwave for the sake of convenience, it’s best to stick with frozen corn dogs.

Final Tip: Fry Corn Dogs in the Air Fryer

Lastly, let’s close with a pro tip. Air frying is a much healthier alternative to frying and it has been wildly gaining popularity over the past few years, partly due to the power of social media and partly because air fryers are very easy to use and practical.

Just like any other food that can be fried in oil, you can fry corn dogs in the air fryer as well. You can fry frozen corn dogs as well as homemade corn dogs in the air fryer. To find out more about cooking with air fryers and a step-by-step guide on how to use them, head over to our article on how to preheat an air fryer.

Simply place your frozen corn dogs in the air fryer, make sure you don’t add any oil, and cook for about 7-8 minutes at 200°C/400°F. This is both the healthiest and the quickest way to enjoy corn dogs without compromising on taste!

If you’re making corn dogs from scratch, you can still fry them in an air fryer. Just roll and cover the corn dogs in some breadcrumbs after dipping them in the batter to make them not sticky. They should be ready in 8 to 10 minutes at 200°C/400°F.

How Much Water to Put In a Pressure Cooker?

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If you are someone who enjoys cooking, you’re likely to have crossed paths with a pressure cooker. Even if you’re not planning on becoming a “home chef”, the convenience that pressure cookers provide may still have drawn you to them.

Pressure cookers are incredibly convenient and great at cutting down cooking time, especially when it comes to cooking meat and legumes, which are not only harder but also trickier to cook well. But despite their advantages, many people hesitate to use them because they are intimidating.

One of the things that people feel uncertain about when using a pressure cooker is deciding on how much water or liquid to put in. And today, we’re here to help you learn all about it. But first, it’s important to share a little bit about how pressure cookers work and whether there are significant differences in the amount of water you need based on the type of pressure cooker you’re using.

How Do Pressure Cookers Work?

The Science Behind Pressure Cookers

The science behind pressure cookers is actually very basic. Simply put, pressure cookers utilize the combined power of steam and high pressure to speed up the cooking process. Heating the pressure cooker causes the water inside to evaporate and turn into steam, and the air-tight lid prevents the steam from escaping, which increases the inner pressure of the cooking chamber. The high pressure inside the chamber raises the boiling point of the cooking liquid, allowing higher heat exposure, which, in turn, cuts down on the cooking time by a large margin.

According to an article by Michigan State University, a traditional pressure cooker can cook the food at around 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121 degrees Celcius), while the boiling point of water under normal pressure is 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celcius). Some modern pressure cookers can achieve even higher boiling points and therefore can cook even faster. The math is very simple: the more you allow the liquid to heat up at a higher temperature without boiling, the faster the cooking time you’re going to get.

The Parts of a Pressure Cooker

​​To ensure safety in the kitchen when you’re cooking it’s important to be familiar with the parts of your average pressure cooker and know what these parts do.

In a traditional pressure cooker, the cooking chamber itself is usually made out of stainless steel or aluminum. The lid or the cover of the chamber usually has a safety valve to ensure that the internal pressure of the chamber doesn’t go above the chamber’s capacity, preventing the cooker from exploding. A rubber piece is usually placed around the lid to prevent the steam from leaking.

In addition to these parts, electric pressure cookers usually contain a secondary chamber placed inside the outer chamber, where the food is actually contained. These pressure cookers often also contain a condensation collector part that is attached to the outer chamber of the appliance.

And lastly, even though it’s not an essential part of a pressure cooker, most modern stovetop pressure cookers also include a digital timer attached to the lid.

Types of Pressure Cookers

Now that we have a general understanding of how pressure cookers work, let’s take a look at what kind of pressure cookers there are and the main differences between them.

Fundamentally, there are two types of pressure cookers: traditional stovetop and electric. Even though stovetop pressure cookers are the more established type, as they have been around for a while and are probably more well-known, electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot have brought pressure cookers back into the spotlight.

Stovetop pressure cookers are exactly what the name suggests: they need a heat source to work. Despite being quite straightforward, they are the type that requires the most diligence to use because they lack certain safety features that most electric pressure cookers have. Beginner cooks may want to be more cautious.

On the other hand, electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot don’t need a heat source — they need an electric outlet to plug the device in instead. These appliances are much easier to use and therefore more beginner-friendly, as many of them have automatic cooking modes for different types of food.

You can read our Pressure Cooker Reviews to find out more about various models of pressure cookers.

The Basics of Using a Pressure Cooker

Now that we’ve established the basics of pressure cookers, we can finally get to learn about using one!

Learning how to use a pressure cooker boils down to knowing how much liquid you need to add in and what you need to do to make sure you’re using it safely.

Here are some general points on using a pressure cooker that will help you get the best out of your cooking experience.

How Much Water to Put in a Pressure Cooker?

When you’re cooking with a pressure cooker, avoid filling the pot with too much water. If the pressure cooker has a maximum limit, do not exceed this limit by putting in too much water or food.

Generally, leaving at least ⅓ of the pot empty is a good rule of thumb to follow. Too much liquid in the pressure cooker may clog the safety valve, which may cause your cooker to explode and it may damage your kitchen or cause burns.

It’s also good to remember that putting enough liquid in a pressure cooker is just as important as not putting too much liquid in.

To explain this simply: you need steam in order for your pressure cooker to work and for your food to cook properly. If there isn’t enough water in there, there isn’t going to be enough steam inside the pot to create the pressure needed to cook the food through.

When you’re cooking with a stovetop pressure cooker, it’s normally recommended to put in at least one cup (237 ml) of water or any other thin liquid such as chicken or vegetable stock, but of course, different recipes may call for different measurements.

The official user manual of one of the most popular electric pressure cookers, the Instant Pot, also recommends putting in at least one cup of liquid, although other models’ manuals may even suggest at least 500 ml of liquid, which converts into a little less than two cups. This is mainly due to the sizes of the pressure cookers varying from model to model, which changes the amount of liquid needed.  You can read our review of Instant Pot’s programmable pressure cooker to learn more about Instant Pot.

Don’t Forget to Add Water

It’s generally not safe to use a pressure cooker without any liquid inside, as it may lead to explosions. As a safety mechanism, most electric pressure cookers will give an error or will not start cooking unless there is a sufficient amount of liquid inside, but this is still a good rule to keep in mind.

Also, if you intend to use thickening ingredients like corn starch for thicker consistency soups and stews, be sure to add these ingredients after the pressure cooking process is done. Adding the thickening agent early will thicken the liquid inside the pot and this will allow less steam to be created and the food may not cook evenly and well.

General Safety Rules

  • Whether you use an electric pressure cooker or a stovetop one, the first step is to check if your pressure cooker is in good shape. You need to make sure that none of the parts are missing or broken, and that the rubber part that goes around the lid and the valve that lets the steam escape is perfectly clean. This will allow your pressure cooker to work properly while keeping you safe in the process.
  • Additionally, if you’re using a very old stovetop pressure cooker, you may need to set the steam valve up vertically when you start cooking, to allow the cooker to balance the inner pressure.
  • If you’re using an electric pressure cooker, make sure that the inner chamber is placed properly and do not put food or any liquid directly into the outer chamber.
  • Another important step for both electric and stovetop pressure cooker users is to release pressure at the end of cooking. Generally, you can either let the steam out manually or wait for the pressure cooker to release the steam by itself over a while. However, most recipes that involve pressure cookers will include instructions on how to release the pressure once you’re done cooking.
  • And lastly, to be on the safer side, it’s always a good idea to let the pressure cooker rest without you touching or moving it for at least 5 to 10 minutes before releasing its pressure.

Conclusion

Pressure cookers are very convenient kitchen tools. They can cut back on cooking time and may even create less dirty dishes than usual because you can make complete meals in them alone. But it’s always important to remember that you’re dealing with high amounts of pressure and therefore need to be extra cautious by keeping the pressure cooker in good condition.

Another crucial thing to remember is to put at least 1 cup of thin liquid like water or stock inside the pressure cooker before you start cooking and not to fill the pot too much with liquid or food.

Now that you have the basics, hopefully, thanks to this article, we hope it’ll inspire you to explore a world of delicious pressure-cooked recipes!

What Is Italian Sausage Made Of?

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If you find yourself on a vacation in Italy, it’s not very likely that you’ll find the term ‘Italian sausage’ on the restaurant menu. You may simply see a ‘salsiccia’ on the menu, although, there are many different types on Italian menus. However, if you’re looking for a place to eat a delicious sausage somewhere in the cities of North America, you may find yourself intrigued by a special type of pork sausage, commonly referred to as ‘the Italian sausage’.

This type of sausage is also known as ‘Sweet Italian Sausage’, ‘Mild Italian Sausage’, but also ‘Hot Italian Sausage. The terms ‘sweet’ and ‘mild’ you may use interchangeably, as they usually refer to the same type of Italian sausage.

In most cases, we are talking about a pork sausage made with anis, fennel seeds, and in the case of hot sausage, some hot spice is expected as well (e.g. minced hot peppers), according to preference.

If you’re an Italian food lover, you must have run into this type of sausage when ordering pasta, pizza, and many other meat-containing Italian dishes.

Also, if you have a recipe that requires a hot Italian sausage, but you have only found the mild/sweet one, all you need to do is add some crushed pepper, chili, or minced hot paprikas, and you’re good to go.

If you find yourself in Italy, and there is a ‘sasiccia fresca’ or ‘fresh sausage’ offered in the restaurant or supermarket, and if its primary seasoning is with fennel, you can rest assured that you are dealing with Italian sausage.

History of the Italian Sausage

This may be a bit unexpected, but the evidence of the Italian sausage as we know it today dates back all the way to the 1st century before Christ.

The recipe and the dish were first described by the Roman historian Marco Terenzio Varrone. Thanks to him two thousand years later, we are still able to enjoy this delicious meal. And the best part is that today it’s not only available and known in Italy and countries that previously belonged to the Roman Empire, but everywhere in the world.

In his writings, Varrone called this delicates dish ‘lucanica’. It is possible that the sausage was previously called also ‘luganega’. Lucanica is how the Roman soldiers who were the first ones to learn how to prepare it, used to call it. Lucanica was a dish made of minced meat that was packed into a case and well seasoned. According to Martial and Cicero, the sausage was named by the region of its origin – the Italian Lucania.

In the US, thanks to the rich cultural mix in most parts of the country, along with the people migrating from Italy, came also the famous Italian sausage… and since it’s so good, it stuck around for quite some time.

Now, let’s dive a bit deeper into the topic: what is this sausage made of exactly, and is it possible for you to make it at home?

What Is Italian Sausage Made Of?

Making an Italian sausage at home is possible, as it doesn’t require any kind of special machinery. Of course, everything is much easier to make with industrial machines, however, it’s also less tasty, and you have no control over the ratio of ingredients as you have when you’re preparing your food at home.

However, stuffing sausages at home can be quite demanding, so many people prefer to avoid going through all the trouble, and simply purchase them at the local shop. On the other hand, if you are buying bulk sausage from your local butcher or you plan to use crumbled meat from a casing to prepare a dish, you can simply buy ground pork too and season it with your own seasoning.

The original Italian sausage usually contains:

  • Fennel (but also ground fennel seeds);
  • Parsley;
  • Onion;
  • Basil;
  • Crushed red pepper;
  • Garlic;
  • Oregano;
  • Sweet paprika;
  • Salt;
  • Black pepper;
  • Dried thyme;
  • Anis;
  • Red wine vinegar.

A good thing about the Italian sausage is that you don’t have to use all the ingredients if you don’t like something. Even if you lose an ingredient or replace some of them, it will likely preserve its original taste.

If you don’t want to bother with buying each of these ingredients individually, you can for sure find an ‘Italian seasoning blend’ in your supermarket, buy a few bags of those, and take a shortcut.

Also, if you don’t consume pork meat, you can still prepare the Italian sausage using others types of meat, such as chicken, or cow. The secret is in the seasoning and the spices, so although the type of meat does change the taste of the dish, it’s not crucial for it to be pork.300

For achieving the best results with your Italian sausage, we strongly recommend purchasing the ingredients from the local fresh market.

For example, it’s really important that you find some fresh fennel, as this celery-like vegetable from the carrot family can taste really bad otherwise. The same goes for sweet paprikas, as these are the richest with flavor if they are organically grown and fresh.

When it comes to parsley, it’s always nicer to use fresh leaves, however, if you can’t find any, dried leaves will do the trick too. For those of you who are sensitive or dislike the strong taste of garlic, you can either put less fresh garlic or use the dried ones. Red wine vinegar is optional.

The process of preparing is something that not everybody likes to do. You basically need to knead the pork meat with red wine vinegar and the spices, until it’s evenly distributed through the sausage.

You can add the spices according to your preferences, and simply use more of what you like to taste.

After you’re done with the kneading, you should split the sausage into three pieces, and wrap them in plastic foil. Then, you can either freeze them or store them in the fridge before use.

Another option is to smoke the sausages. To do this, you need to separate the meat pieces to make sure that the air will circulate between them. This is why you can often see meat hanging from a rack when being dried. If you don’t have the conditions for this way of drying, you can also put them on a grill and smoke them for a couple of hours at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and then slowly increase the heating. The final internal temperature of the sausage should be around 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Can I Use the Italian Sausage?

The Italian sausage is actually surprisingly versatile when it comes to different ways you can combine it in your home cuisine.

One way to use it is to add it to a soup, along with other vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, celery, or anything else you like to put in a soup. The sausage should give a very nice aroma to the soup, and thanks to it being well-seasoned, you don’t have to bother too much with the spices.

Another way to use it is to put it on a pizza and mix it with other common pizza ingredients that you like.

Of course, you can also frill the sausage, and eat it with a fresh bun, pita bread, or in a tortilla, combined with some fresh vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, fresh onions, and sauces of your choice.

Other options are to simply mix the sausage meat with eggs, mix it with pasta, or simply eat it fried. It mixes well with all kinds of red sauces and stews as well.

Conclusion

Italian sausage is one of the go-to dishes when you’re not sure what to make and you don’t want to put in too much effort, while still getting an excellent and tasty meal as a result.

The long history and tradition of this simple dish make it an interesting option when you’re having guests, as there’s also a story to tell about the (at least) two thousand years old sausage recipe.

The main benefits of the Italian sausage are that it’s very straightforward to prepare, the ingredients are usually available regardless of where you live, and it tastes amazing – there’s hardly anyone who wouldn’t enjoy it.

The dish is very well mixed with all kinds of foods: leftovers of cooked vegetables, soups, fresh salads, cream salads, stews, but it also combines well with a simple bun.

Although it’s not recommended to eat such heavy food for breakfast, from time to time it is quite delicious to combine it with your morning scrambled eggs and season with some rocket and cherry tomatoes.

Can You Can In an Instant Pot?

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The Instant Pot has been a real game-changer to many people. People with a busy schedule; people who make a lot of yogurt or rice; people who could benefit from a multi-purpose kitchen tool; and people who enjoy pressure cooking. However, what about people who love to take up canning? Is the Instant Pot a good solution for canning food?

Canning food can be an intimidating process at first. There’s certainly a learning curve with a lot of safety precautions. However, most people agree that once you get comfortable with it, the outcome is very rewarding. Canning food can help you save time, reduce food wastage, and preserve fruits and vegetables that are otherwise unavailable all year long.

Whether you’re new to canning or you’ve recently bought an Instant Pot and want to know whether you can use it for canning food, we’ve put together a little guide to help you make a good decision.  But, first, we need to talk about canning in general.

What Happens to Food When You Can?

People have always looked for ways to preserve food for longer periods of time. And, in 1809, Nicolas Appert of France found a new way to prevent food from spoilage. He invented canning, a method that would change the food industry forever.

Canning is a way to prevent food from spoiling by storing it in containers that are hermetically sealed and then sterilized by heat. The process behind it seems so logical and simple to us now, but then it took people another 50 years before they found out how canning preserves food.

Hermetically (completely airtight) sealing the food in a jar and then heating it to a certain temperature kills all the microorganisms inside the jar. And, because the food is hermetically sealed, new organisms can’t reach the food until we open it to consume it – successfully prolonging the food’s shelf life. In fact, the Canned Food Alliance has claimed that even food in dented or rusted old cans can be safely consumed if the container remains sealed.

Additionally, a lot of studies have confirmed that the nutritional value of canned food is preserved and does not deteriorate for at least two years from the moment the food has been canned.

The only real danger from canned food is clostridium botulinum bacteria – one of the most lethal substances that cause severe and dangerous food poisoning. It’s a rare toxin but one that can be caused by improperly processed foods, including homemade canned and fermented foods, which is why this process requires a lot of caution.

Pressure Cookers and Canning

Knowing that canning could potentially be a dangerous way of preserving food, the canning methods and safety precautions have been thoroughly researched. Today, we have a good idea of what someone needs to do to ensure a safe canning process. Can pressure cookers such as the Instant Pot guarantee a safe canning process?

A lot of electric pressure cookers have been advertised as a great tool with which one can process home-canned foods. Some models of the Instant Pot even come with a “canning” feature/option. Yet, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recommended against electric pressure cookers being used for canning. This was also supported by preliminary research conducted by Utah State University.

The reason behind this is that it seems pressure cookers, including the Instant Pot, do not hit the high temperature needed for canning safely at home. This is mostly because the Instant Pot is regulated by a pressure sensor, and not by a thermometer. The pressure sensor is not a reliable indicator of the cooking temperature. For instance, the altitude of your location can significantly impact the actual cooking temperature, which in some cases can make canning an unsafe procedure.

For many, this is more than enough to end the conversation and never attempt to can in an Instant Pot. This would be a totally reasonable conclusion. However, more experienced canners might wonder whether the same conclusion can be applied to all types of canning. This is a valid remark, so let’s break this down.

Types of Canning

Essentially, there are three methods or types of canning: pressure canning, water bath canning, and atmospheric steam can. We’ll explain each method in more detail and see whether some of them might be a safer alternative for home canning.

Pressure Canning

Pressure canning is a technique of home food preservation that uses a pressure cooker or similar equipment to process food at a higher temperature than other canning methods, such as the water bath canning technique. In other words, everything that we’ve been talking about so far in the article referred to pressure canning.

The study from Utah University and the recommendations from the USDA were also made for pressure canning in electric pressure cookers. This is important to know because pressure canning works very differently than water bath canning.

Pressure canning uses a lot less water than water bath canning – the jars are not covered in water. Instead, the Instant Pot traps steam inside the pressurized container which helps raise the temperature beyond 240 degrees Fahrenheit.

The advantages of pressure canning include:

  • Ability to preserve lower acidic food without the need of adding acid.
  • Ability to maintain the natural flavor of foods (more so than other methods).
  • Using less water and energy during the canning process.
  • Ability to keep the canned products at room temperature.

However, one of the biggest disadvantages of pressure canning is the inability to control the temperature at different altitudes because the Instant Pot is regulated by a pressure sensor and not a thermometer. This is a very serious safety concern that should not be ignored.

Can You Pressure Can In an Instant Pot?

To conclude, we do not recommend pressure canning in an Instant Pot because of the studies and USDA recommendations. Remember that an improper canning process can cause botulism – a potentially fatal food poisoning.

Water Bath Canning

The classical way to can your food at home is through a so-called water bath technique. In fact, this is what we explained when we discussed Nicolas Appert of France who invented canning.

Water bath canning, also known as boiling water canning, is a very easy method of canning through which you can preserve your favorite jams, pickles, or sauces. It works by hermetically sealing the jars and then submerging them completely in boiling water for at least 10 minutes, but maybe more depending on the recipe and type of food.

However, there’s a “catch.” Water bath canning only works for high-acidic foods. For example, you can preserve tomatoes, fruit, fermented vegetables such as pickles or sauerkraut. You can also preserve different jams, jellies, and sauces.

With the water bath method, you can’t preserve meats, beans, seafood, corn, or any low-acidic vegetables such as cucumbers. For these foods, you need to do pressure canning.

Can You Water Bath Can In an Instant Pot?

This is another advantage of the water bath canning – you can absolutely do this in an Instant Pot under three conditions:

  1. The lid needs to be off! Do not put the lid off – you should not create a pressurized environment.
  2. The jars need to be elevated! You need to have a rack that fits inside the Instant Pot because if the jars sit directly on the bottom of the pot the heat can crack the jars.
  3. The jars need to be fully submerged in water! This method won’t work if your Instant Pot doesn’t have enough height to fully submerge the jars underwater.

If you can fulfill these three conditions, then you can safely do water bath canning in the Instant Pot.

Atmospheric Steam Can

Finally, the third type of canning is a so-called atmospheric steam canning, which is an alternative to pressure canning.

To safely can foods under pressure you need at least 10 psig (pounds-per-square-inch gauge). At sea level, this is needed to create a boiling temperature of 240 degrees F. The Instant Pot claims to be able to reach 15 psig. That’s great, however, we’ve seen studies that claim that the Instant Pot’s 15 psig is not enough to kill all the harmful bacteria. The reason for this is altitude. For instance, if you live more than 1000 feet (300 meters) above sea level, the minimum psig should be increased. The SpruceEats have a nice guide on how to safely do pressure canning at higher altitudes.

What has this to do with atmospheric steam canning? Well, both pressure and steam canning use pressure instead of water to create a high temperature. However, unlike pressure canning where the environment is created artificially (induced pressure), the steam canners use natural atmospheric steam to reach sterilizing heat. Here, the jars are enclosed in a pot that uses natural steam to process the food.

The University of Wisconsin has conducted a study where they concluded that atmospheric steam canning is safe for home food preservation of high acidic foods.

Unlike pressure canning, steam canning has the same limitations as water bath canning when it comes to the type of food you can preserve. However, it does share some of the benefits of pressure canning – it saves water and energy and it saves the flavor of the food.

Can You Steam Can In an Instant Pot?

Unfortunately, no. You can’t steam can in an Instant Pot. To preserve food under steam you need an atmospheric steam canner. Tools that are specifically designed for canning under steam are your best bet if you don’t want to risk food poisoning or simply spoiling food with improper techniques. Also, don’t use old models that are out of production – they may not be safe.

Conclusion

Canning foods for preservation is a centuries-old technique that some cultures have heavily depended on for survival during winter days. In fact, in many countries throughout the world, canning through the water bath method is a tradition that is still practiced today, especially in Slavic countries. However, for someone who’s just starting with canning or wants to modernize traditional canning techniques, using the Instant Pot might seem like the most practical solution.

There are many things for which the Instant Pot is indispensable, but when it comes to canning – the verdict is not in its favor – at least for pressure canning. Sure, you could can in an Instant Pot, especially if you have a newer model such as the Instant Pot Max, but there are safety concerns backed by science.

You could avoid these safety risks by taking further precautions, but this can be very overwhelming for newbies.

Our recommendation is to begin with water bath canning, gain experience and confidence, and then slowly progress as you learn more about this process. The good news is that you can do water bath canning in an Instant Pot.

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