Instant Pot Makes Poor Broth?

I bought an electric pressure cooker and I am very glad I did, however I am less than impressed with it’s broth making abilities.

One of my main motivations for buying it was that all the reviews talk about making broth faster. My thought was that it would also help not heat up the house in the summer. I tried making broth and I have to say that it was a huge disappointment.

I used the high setting for 45 minutes and came up with a pathetic watery substance that might, if you were generous, sort have smelled like chicken. It was thin watery with no color, so I thought, “okay, perhaps it needs a little more time” so I tried running it again on high for 45 minutes. The resulting water was slightly more chicken smelling but its color had not improved much and I wasn’t sure if it had any gelatin in it. A night in the fridge proved that it had absolutely no gelatin. I skimmed off the fat and was horrified by the texture. Fat degrades during heating and fat that has simmered on the top of broth is usually not as nice as fat that comes off a cooked chicken, however it is usually good enough to use after one simmer. This fat looked like it had been left to boil for three batches. It was completely useless to me. I use all my fat because buying lard, and butter is super expensive so that was disappointing.

I considered that the bones were at fault for the lack of gelatin and to test it I simmered the whole batch in a pot on the stove for an hour before refrigerating it again. This time I had a nice gelatinous broth which means the bones we’re fine.

I would say that the pressure cooker can’t make broth after this experience, but I noticed that after I cooked a whole chicken in the pressure cooker, the leftover juices were full of gelatin, flavor and color so perhaps I didn’t put in enough vinegar. The whole chicken had a lemon in it. I’ve read that an acid important to the removal of gelatin from bones so perhaps I might give broth making another try with straight bones and see if perhaps more vinegar helps.  I could also try more time, some people recommend two or three hours.

I’ve read a lot of recipes and no one else has mentioned having trouble making a thick gelatin rich broth in the pressure cooker.  I have no idea why my experience was so different but if my next batch is as bad as the first I will not be cooking broth in my electric pressure cooker ever.

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Managing to Cook Every Day, Every Meal

A lot of people write to me and ask about how to manage to cook all their own food if they have so many other things to do. I’ve thought about this really hard because as my regular readers know other than the meals cooked for me by my significant other and close family I do cook everything I eat and like most people I don’t really think about how I do it I just do it. Before I go into this I’m going to go off and talk about something that probably doesn’t seem related but totally is.

This article talks about the spoon theory. The original idea is that when you have lupus you have a certain amount of energy each day and when you run out you can’t do anything anymore.

The author says that normal people have unlimited energy which I disagree with. I believe healthy people have more energy than there are hours in the day which makes it seem like it is unlimited, but really it’s just large enough to cover what needs to be done and then some. It’s only when sick that those energy reserves shrink and a person starts noticing that they don’t have enough energy for what they need to do.

The other day I was watching a show about hoarders and I noticed that every single one of the hoarders who they interviewed had suddenly gotten sick or suffered from a bereavement before their hoarding became so bad. Listening to them and seeing their houses I realized that they had always lived using every last bit of time and energy just to maintain their lives. One had six cats, another worked at a hotel and volunteered as well as doing all sorts of home improvement projects. I realized that if they hadn’t gotten sick they probably could have stayed out of hoarder status but because they used every bit of energy and time to maintain their lives and their stuff, they slipped into hoarding when their energy was impaired by ill health and/or grief.  Their problem wasn’t they they were slackers it was that they were overachievers. They had overextended themselves.

It’s sort of like living paycheck to paycheck. Never having more money in the bank than covers basic needs, so if an unexpected expense happens a overdraft appears.  To continue the flawed analogy to money, everything that we own requires a certain amount of time and energy to maintain, in fact it’s almost like debit. The more stuff one has the more energy one needs to devote to maintaining it.

I myself have had to be very careful about what I allow to take up my energy on a regular basis because at any time I might get sick. These days I don’t become sick because of oil exposures as often but I do recognize that it could happen and I have to prepare for that. To that end I have a core set of things that I maintain even when sick and everything else is flexible enough that I can usually put it off until I feel better.

Usually the things I have to do even when sick relate to food, cooking, dishes, and shopping. Now that I am a parent that list has expanded to include the things I have to do to maintain my daughters safety and happiness. Everything else related to household and personal maintenance is fairly flexible, although not infinitely avoidable.

Ultimately the answer to how I manage to cook all my own food is by giving up doing a lot of other things.  I can let the laundry and the vacuuming slide, I can avoid writing, I can have someone shop for me but cooking safe food is always first and foremost what I prioritize.

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Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

I’ve mentioned before that most medications have oil derivatives in them which means that when I have cramps I’ve pretty much been trying to deal with it. Since giving birth my periods have been much worse, apparently because having a baby stretches out the uterine lining making more space for blood to attach during the month. Which means more shedding during periods.

Last month I found out that red raspberry leaf tea is supposed to help with cramps, as I desperately googled for relief on day fourteen of cramps. I did try drinking it during pregnancy to support my uterine health but I never liked the flavor enough to continue drinking it. I wish I had, within fifteen minutes of drinking half a cup of tea my cramps stopped completely as if they had never been. It only took two or three cups of tea a day to completely avoid cramping for the rest of my period and it’s worked for the next one too. I would not say it’s yummy but it doesn’t taste offensive so I can drink it easily.

Red raspberry leaves come from the same plant as raspberries, which I love, so the minute I have some land I am totally planting some because buying it as an herb around here is not cheap. Still just the fact that it works means it’s worth every penny to me.

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