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No kitchen appliance, in recent history, has rocked the culinary world quite like the Instant Pot.
But just when we thought all the possibilities of this special cooking device had been uncovered, one forward-thinking home cook has done the impossible: David Murphy, a food blogger and recipe developer, has made wine in an Instant Pot.
Murphy, a New Jersey native with a big family, is an Instant Pot devotee, he told TODAY Food, because "it saves me a lot of kitchen counter space and [I] am able to make a lot at one time." Murphy also takes care of his special-needs sister Angela, who doesn't have very good hand-eye coordination due to a neurological disorder. However, Murphy said she loves cooking with the Instant Pot because she can easily help him cook by dumping ingredients into what she refers to as the "magic pot."
The lovechild of a pressure cooker and a slow cooker, the Instant Pot ($79, Amazon) promises to make meals that used to take hours in a matter of minutes. And while the device has been around since 2010, its popularity has really taken off in the last few years, due in large part to a dedicated social media fanbase. With its foolproof settings — including soup, poultry, rice, beans and chili, stews, and even yogurt — it's no wonder the pot has been welcomed into thousands of Americans homes and inspired a whole new ultra-specific cookbook genre.
And apparently the device possesses yet another super power: the ability to make deliciously fermented grape juice.
But how did he do it? Murphy says he was inspired by a meme that sarcastically asked how no one has figured out how to make wine in a Crock-Pot yet. Instead of laughing at the cartoon and simply tagging a friend, Murphy took it on as a personal challenge.
Scouring the internet, he found nothing regarding Instant Pot-winemaking but he did find a ton of tutorials that show home cooks how to make wine out of pretty much anything, so he was inspired to develop his own recipe.
Through the admins of the Instant Pot Community Facebook group, he found out that the lowest temperature setting on the Instant Pot is the lowest-heat "Yogurt" setting (which is below the average person's body temperature) — and that's when he knew he was off to a great start.
"You don't want high heat for starting off the wine process with yeast. You could wind up killing the yeast, then you would just wind up being sad about the whole situation," he told TODAY Food.
It's important to note here that this guy's got a degree in biology. Not just anyone would know that "the yeast was going to thrive in such a 'gently warm' environment."
Murphy's acute culinary instincts (he only did one test batch and it worked!) resulted in a recipe he posted to his blog in early February. It guides readers through a pretty involved (but doable!) process that involves a 64-ounce bottle of Welch’s Grape Juice, a cup of granulated sugar, a packet of Lalvin Red Wine Yeast, a funnel, clear packing tape ... and plenty of your time. It takes about 48 hours of active Instant Pot time to make the wine, and then an additional eight days of bottling and storing in a cool place to allow the solution to de-fizz and fully ferment.
What resulted was an 11 percent ABV wine, according to Murphy's hydrometer (he said he could have gotten to 13 percent if he'd waited another week but he was impatient). And the taste? It's "very comparable to a soft merlot," Murphy said. "You can literally taste sweet dark cherries and a little raw dark chocolate." Again, this is made from Welch's. Just to be clear.
His family taste-testers agreed: They thought it was "pretty freaking good," and are anxiously anticipating more — maybe some white wine, perhaps? Peach wine? Blueberry? The possibilities are endless.
But before we get to different flavors, is it actually safe to make wine in an Instant Pot? Barbara Schieving, who runs the blog Pressure Cooking Today, told TODAY Food that she has seen several recipes using a yogurt maker to make rice wine, so she thinks the process would be similar here.
However, she did express concerns about the safety of making wine at home because of "possible contamination problems."
But when reached via email, a representative from Instant Pot told TODAY that, while they have not personally tested making wine in the device, given the low temperature setting used in Murphy's recipe, they believe that the process is "safe" and they did not see any potential problems. Another Instant Pot representative confirmed to Schieving that the company anticipates "that is it probably safe to make wine in the pressure cooker based on others successfully making vanilla extract and moonshine in the Instant Pot." Yes, you read that correctly. Moonshine. In an Instant Pot.
Murphy is excited that others are eager to learn more about his recipe(s), and hopes what comes out of all of this is that people will be less intimidated by the Instant Pot.
"Once you start cooking with it, you'll begin to understand that you can cook more than just beans, soups, and chicken in it," he said.
So, what's next on this Instant Pot-innovator's to-do list?
"I have my eyes set on making my a batch of vodka," he said. "However, I have to figure out the whole process for that, too! But I love a great challenge that helps me to think differently and creatively."
Want to try it out? Here's the best-selling Instant Pot on Amazon to get you started.
Instant Pot 6 Qt. 6-in-1 Multicooker Pressure Cooker, $79, Amazon
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