In the old days, pressure cookers were both loved and feared. The “set it and forget it” appliance of the 1950s ensured whatever you cooked in it would come out juicy, tender and tasty. Unfortunately, there were also reports of accidents and injury through the years old-school pressure cookers have been in existence.
But fear no more, home cooks! The Instant Pot is a new appliance that will not only cook up beef stew with carrots and potatoes in an hour, it can do so many other things too, like make perfect rice of any kind, yogurt, soup, ribs, roasted chicken, chili, and more. Here are some tips to make sure you’re getting the optimal results from your Instant Pot.
Make sure the lid is closed properly
There are handles on either side of the Instant Pot’s “body, at the 9 ‘o clock and 3 ‘o clock positions, and when the lid (which has locking protrusions at those same coordinates) is closed properly, the handles and the locking protrusions will line up. Also, you’ll hear a melodic “twittering” sound that signals the lid is properly locked in place before cooking. If you don’t make sure the lid is locked, you won’t be able to cook anything.
Be careful with steam release
There are two ways to manage steam release once your food is cooked. The first way is to allow the cooker to release steam at its own pace, which could take an hour. Don’t worry; the technology will beep when the pressure is gone and the Instant Pot is keeping your food warm.
The second way is to release the pressure yourself. Use a wooden spoon to depress the button on the lid that resembles a fat comma. Do not stand near the steam vent! This will take anywhere from 3-8 minutes, and you’ll know all the pressure is released when the steam vent stops.
Keep the silicone ring clean and properly in place
Inside the Instant Pot lid is a silicone ring. After each use remove it and wash it separately from the lid. Make sure you replace it correctly and that it’s not twisted or bent. There are stainless steel “hooks” inside the lid to keep the silicone seal in place. If the seal is in any way twisted, bent, or not in proper position around the hooks, pressure cooking will be affected.
Hand wash the lid
The Instant Pot comes with a sturdy stainless steel “bucket” insert that fits inside the appliance to hold food. You can either handwash this bucket or wash it in an automatic dishwasher. The lid, on the other hand, contains electronics, so you need to carefully handwash just the inside of it and make sure the lid top stays dry. Never, ever soak the lid or get water on the lid top. If the lid top gets dirty, wipe it clean with a damp towel or sponge.
Never cook without liquid
Always put liquid inside the Instant Pot with whatever you’re cooking (you’ll find the exact amounts on Instant Pot recipes). If you have little to no liquid for something that needs pressure cooking, it won’t pressure cook. The liquid’s steam is what builds up the pressure in the appliance.
The Instant Pot, or “IP” as it’s called by fans, is not always a timesaver. For example, cooking shrimp and grits (if you use instant grits) will take you 15 minutes if you do it on the stove. Attempting it in the Instant Pot will take about an hour. But given the fact that you can make beef stew in an hour when it would normally take you half a day, it’s a happy tradeoff.