Buying An Instant Pot Here’s What You Need To Know
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Over the past few years, Instant Pots have become a staple in small kitchen appliances. Busy parents use them to get dinner on the table in minutes, while batch cookers use them to simplify midweek meals. Some people prefer them for their ability to cook just about everything from pot roast to yogurt. Staying home has become the new norm to help prevent coronavirus from spreading, so you’re probably using your time indoors to cook more and try out new recipes. Alongside summer cooking staples like grills, an Instant Pot is a relatively quick, easy and affordable way to whip up home-cooked meals while under quarantine. Here’s everything you should know about an Instant pot, including how it works, best Instant Pots to buy and more.
A few years ago the idea that people would be cooking in pressure cookers en masse was unthinkable, says Elizabeth Barbone, a cookbook author and the creator of the pressure-cooker blog Cook Fast, Eat Well. Its been really fun to see folks not only embrace it, but to embrace it in different ways.
Can You Use Frozen Vegetables In An Instant Pot
This recipe for making Instant Pot steamed vegetables is based on using fresh veggies. You can use frozen vegetables, but they will need a little extra cook time.
Rather than setting the cook time to zero minutes, you will just set it to one minute. An alternate method is to allow the pressure to release naturally rather than doing an instant pressure release.
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Instant Pot Soup/broth Setting: What Is It Which Models Have It
Instant Pots have smart programs to help you cook more conveniently. Wondering about the Instant Pot Soup/Broth Setting? Check out what I learned in looking it up.
The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cookers have smart programs that they created based on extensive testing. They are used to control heat intensity, temperature, pressure, and duration at the click of a button. The Instant Pot Soup/Broth setting is one of these programs.
One thing to note: Not all Instant Pot sizes have the same set of smart programs available within a model series. For example, within a series , the 3 quart models do not have all of the not all smart programs are available compared to the 6 and 8 quart models. This is particularly true about the Instant Pot Soup/Broth setting, which is only available as part of certain series. Double check the Instant Pot you are thinking of buying prior to purchase if the Soup/Broth smart program is important to you.
And one more note: this post contains affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission if you buy through my link. You wont pay any more if you use this link.
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The Three Most Important Instant Pot Buttons
There are really only three buttons you need to know when you are just starting out with pressure cooking:
Manual/Pressure Cook. This button is where the magic happensif a recipe says to cook at High Pressure, this is the button you need. Just press it, then use the and buttons to change the cook time. After a brief pause, the Instant Pot will beep to tell you its beginning the pressure cooking process. Some Instant Pots, such a the Duo Evo Plus have a start button that youll need to press to start the cooking process.
Sauté. Press the Sauté button to brown meats, sauté vegetables, and simmer ingredients in the pressure cooking pot. Adjust Sauté to less for simmer, normal to sauté and more for browning.
Keep Warm/Cancel. Use this button to cancel a function or to turn off your Instant Pot.
Honestly, thats it! I recommend beginning with some easy, tried-and-true recipes before branching out into converting your old favorites. Since I write my recipes so they can be made in any electric pressure cooker, I rarely use the preset Instant Pot buttons.
How To Do An Instant Pot Water Test
Now that you have completed the water test, you are ready to cook in your Instant Pot!
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Cooking Under Pressure Stage
This is the hands-off, trust-the-process phase. Once the pot comes to pressure, the timer you initially set will begin counting down and this is considered the cooking time. The status symbol on the control panel will only show P = Pressure Cooking In Progress. The float valve is up.
The Instant Pot has a clever feedback loop mechanism that maintains a certain of amount of heat to make sure that the pot keeps the same amount of pressure for your specified amount of time . This pressure pushes the steam inside the pot into the food, which enables it to cook at a much faster rate.
In the instance of cooking rice, the grain will be cooked by the hot liquid from and from the steam penetrating it from the top and all directions. This multidirectional steam and pressure cooking really speeds up the process. The liquid will be absorbed into the rice grain as it does with regular rice cookers.
Choose A Cooking Setting And Time
Again, this is likely when you’ll rely on a recipe. But, in general, now is the time to choose the method of cooking and how long your food will cook. I’ve found I typically use the manual setting and high pressure, since I frequently use the Instant Pot to prepare large cuts of meat. But in general, you’ll choose a setting, set a time, then start cooking.
Be advised, it can take more than 15 minutes for an Instant Pot to preheat and pressurize, depending on the amount of food and liquid in the pot. That means the number of minutes you chose to cook your food might not show up on the display for more than 15 minutes. That is OK. That is normal. Do not freak out and stop the cook. You might see small amounts of steam release through your valve. This, too, is normal. If you accidentally set your valve to “venting” you will know it. It produces a lot of steam.
After some amount of time, the Instant Pot display will show how many minutes are left in your cook. You’re off to the races. Set it and forget it, baby.
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What Is The Timer Button For
Some models have a button that reads Timer. While you may think that this is the button that sets the cooking time for your Instant Pot, it actually delays cooking time and will start the cooking when the timer counts down. You can set the cooking time with the plus/minus buttons or the dial, depending on the model.
Instant Pot Manual Setting
Depending on the model, the Instant Pot manual setting button will either say Pressure Cook or Manual. This is the setting youre likely to use the most. The temperature, pressure level and cooking times can be adjusted on the control panel.
- Turn the Instant Pot on. It should say OFF on the screen, indicating its in the Stand-By mode.
- Select Pressure Cook button . The default settings will be Normal mode on High pressure. If you press the Pressure Cook button again, it will change from Normal mode to Less or More, which simply changes the automatically programmed cooking time. Less would be 20 minutes and More would be 45 minutes.
- Use the +/- keys to change the cooking time in each mode. In most cases, you will leave it in Normal mode and simply adjust the time as needed.
- Use Pressure Level button to adjust the pressure level press it to toggle between High and Low. For most recipes, you will use High pressure except for cooking more fragile foods like fish, seafood or fast-to-cook vegetables.
- With the manual setting, you can use Natural Release or Quick Release or a combination of both once the cooking is done.
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Instant Pot Poultry Setting
The poultry Instant Pot setting is best for cookingyou guessed itchicken! The mode you choose depends on the size of the chicken pieces and the cut as chicken breast needs less cooking time and is easily overcooked compared to chicken thighs. You can use this setting to cook chicken meat or a dish that contains poultry in it such as chicken and potatoes or chicken and rice . Poultry setting is only available on 6-quart and 8-quart models, not on the mini! Below is how to use the Poultry setting on Instant Pot.
- Turn the Instant Pot on, it will say OFF to indicate the Stand-By mode. Add chicken, seasoning and liquids to the pot. Secure and lock the lid. Press the Poultry button. The default setting is pre-programmed to set the pot to cook at HIGH pressure for 15 minutes, which is suitable for larger pieces of chicken. If you press the Poultry button again, you can adjust the mode from Normal to Less or More .
If desired, use the / + buttons to further customize the time. The cooking time may be adjusted at any time during pressure cooking.
Allow poultry to rest for 5-10 minutes, depending on size. It will reabsorb cooking juices for tender, succulent meat. Essentially, what this means is that you should allow the Instant Pot to release pressure naturally when possible.
Setting Up Your Instant Pot
I hate instruction manuals. I get bored after the cover page, quickly skim the steps for setting up any new device, and assume that Ill just figure it out as I go. Of course, that never works and I end up begging my fiancé or parents to read the booklet for me and tell me what I need to do. This is not a great way to set up your Instant Pot, or any other new gadget for that matter. You should take the time to read the instruction manual thoroughly before playing around with your new toy, especially when heat and high pressure steam are involved. But if you too want to immediately recycle the manual, heres what you need to know about setting up your Instant Pot.
Instant Pots contain a few different pieces of equipmentthe cooker base, which is the exterior pot that has the control panel and power cord the stainless steel inner pot, which is what you actually use to cook the food and the lid. You may also find a stainless steel round rack inserted into the inner pot, but you can put that aside for now. You dont need it unless youre boiling eggs. Insert the inner pot into the cooker base, place the lid on top, and then twist the lid clockwise to lock it into place. When youre done cooking, open the lid by turning it counterclockwise to unlock and remove it.
The Instant Pot also includes a small plastic drip cup that locks into the back side of the cooking base. This catches any excess steam or moisture and prevents it from dripping on the counter .
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What If Your Instant Pot Doesnt Have The Soup Button
Dont worry. You dont have to miss out on making soup or broth recipes dishes in your Instant Pot if it doesnt have a soup button. Most recipes use manual in the cooking instructions.
Check the recipe to see if it includes any special instructions on time or ingredients to help you have a great finished dish.
And with soup more than most dishes youll cook, be sure to be careful you both release the pressure as well as open lid.
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What Size Pot Should I Buy
When thinking about purchasing an Instant Pot, the biggest question becomes, which one should I buy? They serve the same functions but depending on your lifestyle that will determine which one suits your needs.
The smaller 3 quart Instant Pot will feed approximately 2 people. Its not great for batch cooking, or meal prep because it wont make more than a couple of portions and probably wont have a lot of leftovers. Then, as the sizes go up, the more food it can fit.
Ideally, a family of 4 or more will do well with either a 6 quart or an 8 quart size. This is great for feeding your crew with the possibility of lots of leftovers, especially with the larger size. Keep in mind, the bigger the pot, the longer it takes to come to pressure and it also takes up more counter or storage space.
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How To Use My Instant Pot
Basic model instructions are:
- Put your food into your pot
- Close your steam valve
- Press manual
- Press pressure
- Then if you want high pressure click the pressure button again and it will move the light from low pressure to high pressure as you see here
When you want to set the amount of time you press your finger on the + or buttons as you see and move the minutes up and down until you get it to the correct amount of minutes you need for that recipe.
How To Do It
The process for traditional steaming with a glass lid is similar to the pressure steaming process:
- Set up your Instant Pot with your trivet, steaming basket, and at least 1 cup of water.
- . Doing so will create a steaming environment similar to steaming on the stovetop: the water in your pot will boil, the lid will retain the steam, and you will be able to watch your steaming food inside the pot through the clear lid.
- With this method, you can also remove the lid periodically to check on or stir your food at any point during the steaming process, although you will want to be careful to leave the lid on for the majority of the process, in order to retain steam.
Once your vegetables are sufficiently cooked, simply turn off the pot as normal and remove them, being careful of all of the hot elements in the pot
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For Reheating Pretty Much Everything From Frozen
1. Coat the base of the inner pot with cold water .
2. Remove the frozen lump from the freezer bag or container, place it directly in your pressure cooker .
3. Lock in the lid. Steam release handle pointing to Sealing. Press Manual. Programme 15 minutes. In a conventional pressure cooker: lock in the lid, bring to high pressure, time 15 minutes. Note that in newer, more powerful, Instant Pots, as little as 5 minutes with 5 minutes NPR does the trick . Play with the timings.
4. You can do a quick release at the end of this time or, if you are busy , let it do a natural release and even let it go to Keep Warm until youre ready. It might still be in a lump when you open the lid, give it a good stir. Smaller frozen blocks of homemade food can get away with a bit less time usually but I tend to just go with my tried-and-tested 15 minutes. For bigger blocks I let it do a natural release.
Tip from me: In the case of chillies and bolognese I tend to then add a glug of red wine and let it sauté or slow cook for a while to enhance the flavours.
Do You Seal The Instant Pot When Slow Cooking
No. There is no need to seal the Instant Pot completely when you use your Instant Pot slow cooker function.
When slow cooking in the Instant Pot, you can cover the pot using a tempered glass lid or the regular Instant Pot lid.
If you are using the Instant Pot lid, you need to move the steam release valve to the venting position.
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