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You can pressure cook puddings, flans, cakes, rice and fish by putting them in heat-proof containers. Recipes may vary, though almost all suggest filling the pressure cooker with at least 1 cup of water (or the minimum required by your cooker)  and – for the most delicate ingredients- covering tightly with foil to keep the super-heated steam at bay and then placing the container on a steamer basket or trivet.

pressure_cooker_heat_proof_bowl
Above, pressure cooker Crema Catalana and Chocoflan recipes in action.

When using small containers or ramekins place them in a steamer basket.  If the containers are low, or the cooker is very tall, small containers can be stacked pyramid-style in multiple levels. Remove small containers from the cooker with tongs or a glove-covered hand.

Larger containers should be lowered onto a trivet or steamer basket.  If the container does not already have handles, then construct a foil sling (bottom-right photo) to easily lower and remove the container from the pressure cooker.

The height of the container and steamer basket cannot exceed the maximum fill line of the pressure cooker – this is to ensure the foil cover does not dislodge or the food therein do not interfere with the pressure cooker’s safety systems.

Suitable heat-proof containers
As the name suggests, heat-proof containers should be heat or oven proof- this includes: silicone, heat-proof glass (like pyrex), ceramic, stainless steel, aluminum and even copper!  The forms should not be plastic or any glass that is not tempered.  In Italy, they sell disposable aluminum forms specifically for Creme Caramel – they’re very handy for un-moulding creme caramel (just stretch out the edges to release the dessert!)  If using large square or rectangular containers, be measure the diagonal of the shape to ensure a good fit.

Pictured above are all of the heat-proof containers used in the hip kitchen.  The containers can be anything from tea cups, to breakfast bowls and even small stainless steel mixing bowls!

Each material has its own heating properties: An aluminum container will heat up faster than a ceramic one, for example, so cooking times will need to be adjusted accordingly.

Top it off
Some recipes, will require for this heat-proof container to be covered. Be weary of anything that is heatproof but seals hermetically, like stainless steel lunch (tiffin) boxes, or glass jars with an attached top (as used in this recipe) – do not clamp on the lid during pressure cooking. These containers are not designed to equalize the pressure internally or let you know if the contents are under pressure, it is dangerous to open a hermetically sealed container that has been pressure cooked.

Instead, use tin foil as a top.

Measure twice, buy once
Measure your pressure cooker carefully, taking measurements of both the interior width and height with you to the store – subtracting the height of the trivet or steamer basket.

Shop for heat-proof containers

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49 Comments

  1. When I first saw the picture at the top of this post, I thought the handle on what you call a “tiffin” looked like the handle of an MSR Apine Stow-away pot. A closer look showed that it wasn’t. Still, if you want a straight-sided, flat-bottomed stainless steel pot with a build-in handle, you might check out MSR. A little pricey for this application maybe, but they seem to last forever.

  2. Laura do you have any ideas for bowls from Amazon.it? I would prefer something not breakable because I am pretty clumsy. Also, can you tell me the biggest size bowl that will fit the Onstant Pot Duo 7 in 1? Mine has not arrived, but I am looking for bowls to use to make yogurt and/or tapioca if I can find it (went to the two herbalistas near me and neither had even heard of it before, but I live in a remote area). Thanks, Sz

    1. Hi Suzanne, the Instant Pot liner is 22cm wide, so anything that is 18 or 20 cm will do. You’ll be looking for something like this:
      http://amzn.to/2m3Z2ln

      However, do not close it hermetically while it is in the pressure cooker – as it will build pressure inside. Use just the base, and if you must cover it use tin foil.

      Ciao,

      L

  3. What about silicone pot lids? We have been using glass lids, but it seems like the silicone lids would leave more room on top (no handle sticking up). Are they in danger of becoming sealed during cooking?

    1. There shouldn’t be any trouble. There would only be a risk of the lid sealing if there was a partial vacuum formed in the pot. This is NOT going to happen in a pot actively cooking.

      The advantage of a glass lid is you can see inside. I haven’t seen any clear silicone lids.

  4. I was eyeing my stainless-steel, thermal travel mug this morning as a clever way to cook my oatmeal, since I had been planning to cook the oats in a bowl and then transfer them to the mug, to keep it warm until I reached the office. Then I thought twice about it — would it be safe to use a thermal (meaning double-walled) mug in the PC? I was concerned that pressure would build up in the air between the two walls. So I didn’t try it.

    Good call, or overly cautious?

    1. I am inclined to think good call.

      Depending on how the mug was made, there may be vacuum rather than air in there. If not, there will be a valve somewhere to allow pressure to equalise. (My double walled glasses have a simple valve on the base). Even so, the adjustment in pressure is likely to be slow and you are likely to drive moisture in there. Also, when you release pressure there is a possibility the container will explode.

      If it is a true vacuum flask, the extra external pressure may crush the container depending on the materials used to make it.

      Also, remember that the whole idea behind double walled flasks is to slow down heat transfer. Even if the container is not damaged, you are likely to prevent the oats from cooking.

      Stick to plan A

      1. if you heat up your thermos with boiling water for a few minutes, drain it then add your dry oatmeal and any additives, raisins, brown sugar, etc… add your regular amount of boiling cooking water and close it up tight, you will have perfectly cooked oatmeal by the time you get to the office. I don’t think this will work for steel cut oats.

  5. Thanks for your reply.

    Turns out it’s a vacuum mug. http://www.gocontigo.com/16-oz-autoseal-randolph-stainless-travel-mug-1.html

    Just as well I decided not to try it. Washing an extra bowl isn’t that big a deal.

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