U.T. Extension news: tips for multi-cookers

By CAROL BRANDON

U.T. Extension agent

Have you jumped on the electric multi-cooker craze? These appliances are used for slow-cooking, searing, sautéing, simmering, steaming and much more. Probably the most talked-about use for electric multi-cookers is the pressure-cooking feature.

What are the benefits of multi-cookers?

Combines multiple appliances into one, which saves space and money

Easy to use-simply push a pre-programmed button, lock the lid and it goes to work.

Saves time by either cooking the food rapidly or letting it cook slowly-depending on your need.

Requires fewer cooking utensils by browning or sauté, then cook in the same pot.

Maximizes flavor because of the enclosed environment.

Keeps kitchen cooler because the heat says enclosed.

Minimizes odors because of the enclosed environment.

Is quieter than a stove top pressure cooker.

          What are the safety features on multi-cookers?

Depending on the brand and model, there may be several different safety features.

Steam release valve and cover: This regulates the internal pressure. The cover disperses the steam to prevent burns.

Floating valve: This valve helps to seal in steam and controls the amount of pressure inside the cooker by allowing excess pressure to be released.

Safety pressure valve: In some models, this valve allows excess pressure to escape from the cooker when pressure cooking. It works independently from the floating valve.

Self-locking lids: A pin will lock the lid automatically when the lid is properly aligned and closed and when the cooker is pressurized.

Safety Tips:

Use the warm function to keep food hot if you do not plan to eat the food as soon as it is done cooking.

Make sure meat is thawed before adding it the multi-cooker.

Avoid the delay cooking function. Leaving food in the danger zone (40 to 140 F) promotes growth of bacteria.

Avoid overfilling the pot. Always stay below the maximum fill line.

Make sure there is no food or other debris blocking the steam release valve and floating valve that will prevent the cooker from coming to pressure.

When looking online for electric pressure-cooking information, a variety of          cooking times are listed for foods such as meat, poultry, and fish. The cooking time needed varies with the size and model of the multi-cooker, size/cut of meat, amount of liquid, pressure release used, and other factors. However, the most important step is often left out– use of a food thermometer to ensure food has   reached a safe minimum internal temperature.

Using a food thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure safety of meat, poultry, and egg products. Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, making sure not to touch bone, fat or gristle. According to USDA, food should be cooked to the following minimum internal temperatures as shown in the chart below. For personal preference, you may choose to cook food to higher temperatures.

If food has not reached the proper temperature after pressure cooking, it is important to continue the cooking process. Whether it is going back to pressure cooking, using the sauté feature on your multi-cooker or switching to using the stovetop or oven, make sure a safe temperature is reached.

 

Safe Cooking Temperatures

Product Minimum Internal Temperature & Rest Time
Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb
Steaks, chops, roasts
145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Ground Meats 160 °F (71.1 °C)
Ground Poultry 165 °F
Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked) 145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Fully Cooked Ham
(to reheat)
Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F (60 °C) and all others to 165 °F (73.9 °C).
 All Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry, giblets, and stuffing) 165 °F (73.9 °C)
Eggs 160 °F (71.1 °C)
Fish & Shellfish 145 °F (62.8 °C)
Leftovers 165 °F (73.9 °C)
Casseroles 165 °F (73.9 °C)

 

When using a multi-cooker or any other cooking method, follow these important food safety tips to keep your family safe from a foodborne illness:

Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before cooking and after handling raw meat or poultry.

Make sure your appliances, utensils and work area are clean.

Keep perishable foods refrigerated until it is time to cook them. Be cautious using a “delayed” cook feature on slow cookers or electric multi-cookers. Bacteria multiply rapidly when food is left at room temperature.

Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate or freeze immediately. Discard food that has been sitting out longer than two hours.

 

Super Quick Multi-Cooker Brown Rice Pilaf

 

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked brown rice

2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 Tablespoons minced onion

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Wash hands with soap and water. Add brown rice, chicken broth and minced onion to multi-cooker. Set device to 22 minutes of pressure cooking time.

When time is up, open the multi-cooker after a 10-minute natural pressure release. Add spices; salt and pepper to taste.

Stir to combine and serve.

 

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size (1/2 cup); Calories 123; Total Fat 0.8g; Sodium 174mg; Total Carbohydrates 24g; Fiber 2g

 

For additional information about how UT-TSU Extension Claiborne County can help you, stop by the office, call 423-626-3742 or visit the website at claiborne.tennessee.edu.