The Two Most Important Safety Instructions For Your Instant Pot
The Instant Pot manual is filled with safety instructions, but these two are the critical ones to remember:
First, never put your face near the steam release valve or float valve while the Instant Pot is on. When I toggle the steam release valve, I use a long handled wooden spoon so my hand and arm are not near the valve opening. Any kitchen utensil with a long handle will do. Alternatively, you can use an oven mitt to carefully turn the steam release valve to the venting position when you are ready to release the pressure in your Instant Pot.
Second, never open the Instant Pot lid until the pressure has been released through the steam release valve. You will know that all the pressure has been released when the float valve drops down.
Depending on which Instant Pot model you have, the float valve may be red or silver. It may pop up above the level of the lid when the pot is pressurized, or it may pop up to be flush with the level of the lid. In my 6 quart LUX, the silver float valve is below lid level normally and pops up to be flush with the level of the lid when pressurized. You will get to know how your Instant Pot model works.
These photos show my 8 quart DUO and you see that the float valve is above the lid level in the left photo, which shows a pressurized pot.
Never attempt to open the lid of your Instant Pot while it is pressurized.
Why You Need An Instant Pot
The Instant Pot is definitely not an old school manual pressure cooker. It has plenty of onboard safety features made possible through electronics. For example, a host of sensors help it self-regulate internal pressure and temperature. Theyre designed to ensure the Instant Pot operates within preset safety limits.
Sensors also detect whether the lid is locked or not. And unless the cover is firmly clamped down, the Instant Pot wont take on pressure. Likewise, once the cookers interior becomes pressurized, the lid automatically locks in place.
Factor in the numerous preprogrammed settings tailored to the type of food it cooks. All that makes Instant Pots light years ahead safety-wise of their ancient pressure cooker counterparts. Of course you still need to operate your appliance properly and with care.
How To Cool A Pressure Cooker Down
There are three main methods for bringing the pressure in a cooker back down: natural release, quick release, and cold water release.
Natural release involves taking the cooker off heat and allowing the temperature to gradually decrease until the spring-loaded lock disengages. Keep in mind that there could be significant carryover cooking with a natural release technique, depending on how much food youre cooking.
Quick release, as the name implies, involves removing the weighted jiggler or pressing a button to allow steam inside the cooker to escape. Doing so allows you to stop the cooking immediately, but it also means that the contents of the pressure cooker will boil vigorously. Kenji takes advantage of that boiling to effectively blend hispressure cooker split pea soup without using a blender.
Lastly, theres the cold water release, which requires running the entire apparatus under cold running water until the cooker depressurizes and the lock disengages. Like the quick release method, the cold water release allows you to access your food effectively immediately. On the other hand, this method doesnt cause the contents to vigorously boil, which might be desirable for a given recipe. Be aware that the cold water release cant be used on electric models.
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What Can You Cook In An Instant Pot
With a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, youll be able to create a wide range of dishes and without long cooking times either. Everything from stews and soups to chicken wings and barbecue ribs can be cooked in a pressure cooker.
Instant Pots are designed to combine the work of multiple cooking appliances into one machine, so youll be able to prepare entire meals without using your oven or cooktop. You can make homemade fries, slow cook meat, create tasty desserts, and perfect fluffy rice.
If you want to get the most out of any multi-cooker, however, its important to consider its capacity and whether thats going to be big enough for the size of your household.
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Stovetop Pressure Cooker Vs Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Comparison Table
Lets sum up essential similarities and differences between stovetop pressure cookers and instant pot. As you can see, they might operate on similar principles, but the devices serve different cooking needs. Stovetop pressure cooker is faster but limited in use, while instant pot allows for more cooking processes, hence, different foods.
Check the table for more differentiating factors and keep reading for the table on differences between cooking times.
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What Can You Make In The Instant Pot
The real question is: what cant you make?You can pretty much cook anything that you can think of, whether its steaming, roasting, slow cooking or canning. Many recipes are adaptable to the Instant Pot, even if they take a bit of trial and error. If youre an experimental cook, this pressure cooker will be one adventure after another. Here are some common recipes that can easily be made in this pressure cooker, and a few additional functions:
What Should I Cook With My Instant Pot
While fanatics will tell you that you can cook almost anything in an Instant Pot, the truth is that, like slow cookers, microwaves and sous vide devices, there are are certain dishes and styles of cooking that are best suited for pressure cooking, and many others that simply arent.
Pressure cooking is a wet cooking method it needs a liquid in the pot to boil and create steam in order to do its thing. Braises, stews and soups are therefore all good candidates for pressure cooking. Youll also want to consider the main ingredients that youre pressure cooking. Generally you want to look towards tough cuts of meat full of connective tissue, such as chuck roast, pork shoulder or anything youd otherwise cook low-and-slow. Pressure cookers are great at breaking down those connective tissues into gelatin, which creates that wonderful, mouth-coating texture in the greatest braises and stews. They also render those toughened muscle fibers to fork-tenderness far more quickly than you can achieve in an oven.
Likewise, pressure cookers are excellent at producing nutrient-rich stocks in an hour or so breaking down the collagen and gelatin in bones on the stovetop takes the better part of a day.
As with any trendy cooking apparatus, it is best to rely on third-party recipes from resources that arent just chasing clicks. And use your gut does a recipe sound like it would actually improve in an Instant Pot? Try it out. If it sounds borderline insane, maybe not.
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The Practical Guide You’ve Always Wanted For Those Confusing Instant Pot Buttons And Settings
Your dreams have officially come true! You finally got that Instant Pot and its time to start whipping up a few delicious meals. Buthow, exactly, do you work this thing?
People rave about how easy and quick it is to use, but looking at all the Instant Pot buttons, it seems that only a genius could actually figure out what all of them mean. Which button do I choose for what? Whats the difference between the NormalMore and Less settings? And should I cook on Low Pressure or High Pressure?
These questions instantly come to mind, but dont sweat, we got you covered. Heres a full guide to all of your Instant Pots buttons. So make sure to bookmark this for later!
The Instant Pot Display Wont Turn On
Most display issues are often the direct result of a power problem. One quick way to try and fix your display is to make sure the power cord is fully plugged into your Instant Pot. If you previously tried this and the screen still wouldnt turn on, you should try to plug your Instant Pot into a separate outlet entirely. If youre still unsuccessful, contact Instant Pot support.
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How To Setup Instant Pot
Accessories Youll Find in the Box: Steamer Rack, Rice Paddle, Soup Scoop, Rice Measuring Cup, Condensation Collector, Quick Reference Guide, Recipe Book, and Manual.
7 Instant Pot Parts & Accessories to Setup:
The Science Of Pressure Cookers
Time for a quick high school chemistry refresher: The pressure cooker can be best explained by the ideal gas law , which describes the behavior of most gases under most conditions. It is commonly given as: PV=nRT
P stands for pressure V stands for volume T stands for temperature n represents the amount of a given gas and R represents a constant .
In the closed chamber of a pressure cooker, we can make a few assumptions. For one, the volume of the chamber doesnt change. Second, R doesnt change either. Third, there is a maximum pressure that the chamber can reach, regulated by a valve system. As the pressure cooker heats food up , T goes up. And as T increases, something else must increase to balance the equation. Since we assume that V is constant, it is more than likely that pressure increases as well.
We can explain this increase in pressure another way, too: As the system heats up, there is more energy supplied to molecules of water vapor, which causes them to bounce around and collide randomly both with each other and against the walls of the container. The force of these collisions against the walls is one definition of pressure, based on the kinetic model of gases.
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What Is An Instant Pot Exactly
The Instant Pot is simply an electric pressure cooker with multiple functions, which sets it apart from many kitchen appliances with a single purpose like a rice cooker or slow cooker.
If youre brand new to the concept, a pressure cooker electric or stovetop version creates a pressurized environment inside the pot, which cooks food much quicker than the oven or a regular pot on the stove. You can learn about how the Instant Pot works in more detail here.
The Instant Pot is also multi-cooker so in comparison to a gadget like a rice cooker, it has multiple functions instead of a single function. There have been dozens of models since it was first introduced, but they all possess similar features that make the Instant Pot what it is.
So, what does this multi-cooker entail? Well, it has functions of a simple pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, and yoghurt machine in one. While previously all of these appliances were sold separately, you can now have them all in one. You can also sauté foods in the Instant Pot, which is done without pressurizing and uses a heating element that sits just underneath an inner pot. It will even keep your food warm once it stops cooking.
The Instant Pot is a self-regulating machine in many ways. You dont have to be watching over it to make sure it turns off when its done cooking. Gone are the days of exploding pressure cookers on the stovetop! The Instant Pot is super safe, efficient and economical.
What Is A Pressure Cooker
The working principle of a pressure cooker is simple: steam compression. High pressure comes with a closed pot with plenty of steam, which lets food cook quicker.
It takes only a few minutes to prepare rice. Tougher foods, such as beans, boil in no more than an hour. Some people use the cooker to prepare a variety of other foods, such as hard-boiled eggs.
The pressure cooker works quite well. Since it heats so rapidly and employs the pressure forces of steam, it requires much less power than other machines.
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Do All Pressure Cookers Actually Reach 15 Psi
This comes down to the difference in measuring systems between the United States and the rest of the world . Pressure in the rest of the world is measured in kilopascals and bars while the U.S.it is measured with pounds per square inch .
European manufactured pressure cookers are designed to cook at 1 bar or 100 kpa and that translates to 14.5 psi but American manufactured pressure cookers are designed to reach a full 15 psi .
Is There An Electric Pressure Cooker That Cooks 15 Psi
At the time of the writing of this article, most electric pressure cookers reach 15 psi but they do not cook at 15 psi. As illustrated by the graphic below electric pressure cookers reach 15 psi briefly during the warming process.
Electric pressure cookers build pressure up to 15 psi but then maintain a lower pressure during the cooking. In the graph below the operating pressure is 11.6 even though the cooker reaches 15 psi while its building pressure. Operating Pressure is the true pressure at which an electric pressure cooker cooks.
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Instant Pot Meat/stew Setting
The meat and stew setting is best for cooking large or tough cuts of meat at high pressure. This button can be used for cooking meat pieces in a little broth or stews that contain meat in them. Below is how to use the Meat/Stew setting on Instant Pot.
- Turn the Instant Pot on, it will say OFF to indicate the Stand-By mode. Add meat, seasonings and liquids to the pot. Secure and lock the lid. Select the Meat/Stew button. The default Instant Pot meat setting is pre-programmed to set the pot to cook at High pressure for 35 minutes, which is suitable for most dishes like beef stew or pulled pork. If you press the Meat/Stew button again, you can adjust the mode from Normal to Less or More .
- Less mode 20 minutes at High pressure for soft texture meat great for diced steak, pork or lamb, pork or beef ribs, ground meat like when making taco meat or Bolognese sauce, and most stews that use diced or ground meat.
- Normal mode 35 minutes at High pressure for very tender meat texture great for slightly larger pieces of meat and for stews that use tougher cuts of meat like Beef Bourguignon.
- More mode 45 minutes at High pressure for fall-off-the-bone texture great for pork shoulder, beef pot roast or lamb roast.
If desired, use the / + buttons to further customize the time. The cooking time may be adjusted at any time during pressure cooking.
My Instant Pot Isnt Searing Very Well
Sautéing with your Instant Pot is convenient, but it can be challenging to get a decent sear on specific cuts of meat. We recommend opting for a different appliance entirely to sear most larger-cut foods, like steak, because your Instant Pot wont get hot enough to execute a deep sear. Smaller cuts of meat may prove to be successful, but we cant promise that the meat wont become chewy or soggy. Searing is not the Instant Pots strong suit, so you should leave that job up to your trusted frying pan.
Read our instant pot tips and tricks guide to learn about more things you can do with this kitchen appliance. Interested in a new model? See which instant pot is right for you.
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Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Reviews
- This review from The Kitchn chronicles eight months with the pressure cooker.
- Wellness Mama reviews the Instant Pot and includes some nourishing recipes.
- CNET reviews the Bluetooth-equipped version of the Instant Pot.
- This handy video review from A Pinch of Healthy outlines thoughts, tips, pros and cons.
Cooking Under Pressure Isnt New
A French physicist, Denis Papin, invented the first pressurized cooking pot in the 17th century. It was, in its essence, a sealed pot that trapped steam with a tight-sealing lid. He added a steam valve after an early prototype exploded during a presentation. Because this closed-lid cooking system had the ability to break down, well, bone, Papin referred to the machine as a Bone Digester . After Papin pressure-cooked a full meal for Londons Royal Society in 1682, the pressure cookers success was set in stone, sort of. It just took a while centuries, in fact for the machines to catch on in home kitchen.
Papins discoveries were used more for industrial endeavors, such as steam engines, until the first commercially-available pressure cookers were introduced to the public at the 1939 Worlds Fair. These machines, manufactured by the National Pressure Cooker Company , were crazy-popular throughout the first half of the 20th century, but eventually became eclipsed by prepackaged frozen foods and the even-more-convenient microwave. By the late 20th century, these stovetop pressure cookers were mostly the denizen of home canners, who used them to process meats, tomato sauces, and other low-acid foods.
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