So what can you do with your programmable pressure cooker? Practically much more than you can imagine. Instapot share a good reputation in the cooking world, simply because you can cook almost everything and anything. Be it rice, stew, meat, vegetables, yogurt and even desserts, if you know how to run the pot you can expect your dishes to fill up instantly. However, if you are new to the instant pot world and you’re quite intimidated, fret not. These beginner tips are surely going to save you time and turn you into a expert.
1. Know the PSI
The usual rate at which most instapots operate is 11.6 PSI, which is lesser than a normal pressure cooker’s rate (15 PSI). This means that once you start cooking a pressure-cooker based recipe, you should add in an extra few minutes. This may seem like its taking more time, but with an instapot you can expect perfect results and maximum control, all with a little effort. Plus, at this PSI, you can even cook frozen food to perfection (Yes, they can cook straight-out-of-the-freezer stuff as well).
If you haven’t got one yet, go to the homepage to find more about it.
2. Cook Everything in the Same Pot
Because the instant pot includes different modes (i.e Saute, Steam, Slow Cook, Pressure Cook etc), you can actually accommodate all cooking processes in one single pot! Talk about saving dishes. This means that you can brown a pot roast, add broth and seasonings and pressure cook all of it, in the same pot.
3. Manual Button is your Best Friend
If you can’t seem to get a grip on all the different function or just want to make sure to enter the exact temperature and pressure values, then you will be using the manual button a lot. Not only does it give you complete control, but anytime, anywhere in the cooking process if you feel like adding in something, let’s say some more minutes, then this one button can help you accommodate it in your cooking.
4. Know the Pressure Valve
For all newbies, its absolutely mandatory to understand the pressure valve. Know where it is and how you can set it to sealing and venting. If the valve isn’t sealed properly, the pressure won’t build inside the pot. If there is no pressure, there will be no cooking. And in case you fail to turn the knob to venting mode soon, you can expect everything to just go mushy inside. Therefore, take sometime out, practice the knob a few times and save your time and recipes.
5. Knowing the Difference between Quick and Natural Release
Now as the pressure builds up and cooks your food, obviously that pressure would have to ultimately vent out from somewhere. There are two ways through which pressure exits the instant pot, and using the right one can determine the outcome of your dish.
If you are cooking something that has chances of over-cooking or turning soggy, such as vegetables or delicate sea-food, then you would use the quick release action. However, if you are cooking something that requires gradual pressure release, such as Soup or Porridge, then for ideal results (and thickness), you will use the natural release method.
And while all this seems sorted, there will be other recipes that would ask for both kinds of release. The best way to do so, is by waiting 10 minutes for the pressure to release naturally and then turning the knob all way through for quick release action.
6. The One-Cup Rule
In order to build any kind pressure, the pot requires some liquid that it will steam. The general rule of thumb for instapot cooking is, one cup of liquid. However, you can take the limit up to one and a half cup. Just be sure to not to use more liquid, else the recipe is sure to turn out bland all while taking even more time to cook. Also, thicker liquids generate lesser steam, hence when using such products adjust the liquid quantity likewise.
7. Opening the Lid
While it seems like no big deal, but as the hot steam rushes out when you open the lid, you can burn your hand very easily. Therefore, the best way to do so is by slowly tilting the lid as you open it. It acts like a guide and directs the steam away from you. In addition to this, never try to open the lid unless the pressure has been fully released. The best way to know when to open the lid is when the floating valve drops.
8. Handling Bulk Cooking
The instant pot comes in different sizes (6 qt, 8qt and more), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the bigger the size, the more bulk of items you can cook in it. A 6-qt can cook the same amount of food as a 8-qt pot. If you wish to cook the same dish but in bulk, like rice for instance, you can easily do that by purchasing an extra stainless steel insert and using it for bulk cooking.
9. Pot-in-Pot Cooking
Of course, as far as size is concerned, the pot’s quantity does matter but here’s the good part- You can cook two different things in the same pot at the same time(pot-in-pot). Though it is a rather advanced form of cooking but all it requires is some extra equipment like the steam rack, some good how-to-cook videos and balancing the pressure such that both dishes make use of the same time and pressure. But on the whole, it can save you a lot of time.
10. Cleaning and Maintenance
Cleaning might appear like a daunting task, for the instant pot has many little and complicated components in its structure, but surprisingly it is easy. The inner steel pot can be cleansed by hand washing and by placing it in the dish washer. The lid can easily be cleaned by using nothing but water too. The external pot only needs a damp cloth to get neat and clean. And in case of odors and strict stains, vinegar and fresh lime will leave you with a stain-free, fresh pot.
However, never make use of steel wool for cleaning your instapot. An instant pot might look complex and hard to wash up, but it rarely requires any hard, in-depth cleaning.
But the biggest tip of all is to practice by cooking smaller portions of food. That ought to give you better control on the pot and more flavor-filled portions.