Chaga Instant Pot - Under Pressure Chaga Keeps it's Cool
It is believed that it's best not to boil chaga or expose it to high temperature. Otherwise you risk sacrificing some of the benefits.
But a scientific study of chaga using pressurized extraction (1) revels that when under pressure, despite high temperatures Chaga keeps it cool!
In this experiment Chaga hot water extraction was performed at various temperatures (50, 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300°C) and at different cooking times (10, 30, and 60 min). The antioxidant activities were then analyzed.
When comparing the results, it was revealed that superoxide dismutase (SOD) levels, total phenol content and radical scavenging activities among others, actually increased with elevated temperatures and times.
For example, the benefits of chaga brewed at 250°C for 60 min were greater than those tested at 50°C for 60 min. It was found that the health benefits started to decrease at 300°C.
The highest total antioxidant levels were achieved at 250°C for 30 min at 22 PSI.
Use Instant Pot to Make Chaga Tea
The question remains can we recreate the environment of 22 PSI at 250°C in an Instant Pot?
Before you start heating up your Instant Pot we need to cover a few more details whether making chaga tea in an instant pot is a good idea or not.
Not all pressure cookers are the same.
How pressure cookers work
There are differences in measuring systems between the United States (imperial) and the rest of the world (metric). Pressure in the rest of the world is measured in kilopascals (kPa) and bars while the U.S it's measured with pounds per square inch (psi).
European manufactured pressure cookers cook at 1 bar or 100 kpa (metric pressure measurements) which translates into 14.5 psi ( rounded up to 15 psi). American manufactured pressure cookers are designed to reach a full 15 psi.
Chaga Instant Pot Pressure Settings
The makers of Instant Pot measure pressure in PSI. Here are the common pressure settings and differences between Instant pot pressure settings low vs. high
Electric pressure cookers like The Instant Pot build pressure up to 15 psi but then maintain a lower operating pressure while cooking. In the graph below the operating pressure of Instant pots are 11.6 PSI on the high pressure setting even though the cooker reaches 15 psi while it’s building pressure.
You can check your instruction booklet that came with your Instant Pot as it may have more information as to the operating PSI levels between different models of Instant Pots and the operating pressure obtained.
We have found that most Instant pot's have an operating pressure of 11.6 PSI on high and 7.2 PSI on the low pressure setting.
Remember we are aiming for an operating pressure of 22 PSI to maximize the quality of chaga tea extraction.
There one more thing we need to consider before we can begin.
Pressure cookers PSI are affected by Atmospheric Pressure
Any pressure cooker including the Instant Pot adds pressure above the current atmospheric pressure. Since there is a pressure difference in the atmosphere between one altitude and another, the true operating pressure of your Instant Pot will vary depending on where you are located.
Moving up in the atmosphere, or going to higher altitude, the atmospheric pressure decreases. About 5% PSI for every 1000 feet of elevation.
Hike up a mountain 6,000 feet with your instant pot and you'll only have a high operating pressure of 7.3 PSI.
So, you you need to determine the atmospheric pressure of where you are located, or at least where you intend to make chaga tea in an instant pot.
Determine Your Operating Pressure PSI Above Sea Level
You'll need threes things to figure out your true operating PSI.
- Operating pressure of Instant Pot
- Your elevation above sea level
- Adjust for sea level pressure
We have already determined that our instant pot has an operating pressure of 11.6 PSI on high and 7.2 PSI on the low setting.
Now you need to figure out your current altitude compared to sea level.
You can determine your elevation above sea level by going to whatismyelevation.com. Remember, we are looking to determine our 'feet' above sea level.
Or, you can use the handy chart below to determine your true operating pressure above sea level.
The atmospheric pressure at sea level averages 14.7 psi so we will need to add this psi to our operating pressure based on your location. Allow for a 5% loss of PSI for every 1000 feet above sea level.
Pressure Cooker Cooking Temperatures
Finally we need to know the maximum cooking temperature the Instant Pot can reach inside the pressurized environment.
- High pressure - 239°F to 245°F
- Low pressure - 229°F to 233°F
Conclusion | The Good and Not so Good News
The Bad News
Making chaga in an instant pot does not seems to be as easy or effective as hoped.
When below 1000 feet or at sea level we can achieve an operating pressure of 22 PSI (21.9 close enough) but fall short of the temperature requirement of 250°F.
Using the high pressure setting and we can get close to our target temperature of 250°F ( 245°F close enough) but the PSI is too high at almost 26 PSI.
Simply put, we won't be able to recreate the exact conditions of temperature and pressure featured by this scientific study using an Instant Pot.
Keep in mind that phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals were not analyzed in this experiment so the high temperature exposure may render them ineffective.
The Good News
It seems that the perfect environment can be achieved when operating on high pressure at 6000 feet above sea level. So if you are in Chile, China or Afganistan you are at the perfect elevation to brew chaga in an instant pot.
Keeping in mind that the science behind pressurized extraction is a sliding scale we still can achieve some measure of success even at lower pressure and lower temperatures.
As long as we can avoid the two critical points pressure above 22 PSI and temperature above 300°F. we should still be out of the chaga danger zone.
The science is not complete but if you are up for a new way to make chaga tea then it's certainly work trying.
Let the taste and your own experience be your guide.
We welcome your feedback and results with this curious method of preparation which we will gladly share with others.
How to Make Chaga Tea in An Instant Pot
- Add 3 to 5 chaga chunks or 3.5g of chaga tea
- per 1 liter of fresh water
- Cook on low pressure for 30 min
- Let Instant Pot cool and depressurize
Optionally, use the slow cooking option to prepare chaga and brew for 12 hours and leave the Instant Pot on warm until ready to serve or store for later use.
Medicinal Mushroom chaga tea can be considered a tonic and enjoyed daily for maintenance of good health. Lean more about proper dosages and side effects of chaga prior to use.
Source:(1) Antioxidant Activity of Sub-critical Water Extracts from Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) Journal: Separation Science and Technology Volume 45, Issue 2, January 2010, pages 198-203 Hye-Kyung Seoa & Seung-Cheol Leea*