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Electric pressure cookers are fantastic appliances that have quickly turned into staples in many home cooks’ kitchen arsenals. The Instant Pot, in particular, has revolutionized cooking methods worldwide thanks to its ease of use, multi-functionality, and ability to cut down cooking time significantly.
The Instant Pot sets itself apart from most pressure cookers for many reasons, and it’s definitely nothing like your grandparents’ pressure cooker. Probably the most popular model out there today, the Instant Pot is one of the best kitchen tools you can invest in for everything from pressure cooking to using it as a slow cooker or yogurt maker.
Looking at your new Instant Pot box and wondering what Instant Pot recipes you can make and how to use it to its full potential? Here are some of the ways and tips on how to use an Instant Pot.
While the stovetop pressure cooker is still a useful tool, it used to be the only option available on the market. Today, the electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot pressure cooker has helped make cooking most recipes easier and faster through its pressure cooking functions, slow cooking functions, multifunctions, and ability to cut cooking time significantly while still providing the same quality you’d get out of traditional cooking methods and cooking times.
The Instant Pot is an all-in-one electric pressure cooker. It was one of the first electric pressure cookers to come on the market and, while there are now many similar pressure cookers out there today, the Instant Pot has remained the most popular, and for good reason.
Pressure cooking allows the Instant Pot to cook food quickly, as it locks in steam created by liquids, building all the pressure and causing steam to be released back into the food. However, the Instant Pot is significantly safer than most pressure cookers that came before it thanks to its locking mechanism and quick release method that steadies and accommodates the natural release of pressure.
The electric pressure cooker option of an Instant Pot is its main function. There is usually a manual pressure-cooking and manual pressure release option, but most of the specialized modes on an Instant Pot are also just pressure-cooking modes with preset times and pressure levels.
Pressure cookers reach higher temperatures because their lids lock into place without steam escaping, which is how the Instant Pot builds pressure. This is 70% faster than other ways of cooking, and it only takes less than an hour for the food inside to cook completely.
Because Instant Pots build pressure so quickly during their cook time, you can use either natural release or quick release methods to get rid of it after cooking. Natural pressure release simply means releasing the pressure by leaving the Instant Pot lid’s valve in the sealing position and allowing the pressure to dissipate naturally over time.
The quick release method on the other hand releases the pressure manually. You’ll carefully move the valve into the venting position here, and steam will shoot out of the vent until all the pressure is released. The quick release method is much faster, but it will still take time to release the steam through the vent, especially for very high-liquid meals like soup.
The Instant Pot can easily go from high or low pressure, and the slow cook function on an Instant Pot allows for longer, gentle cooking just like a crock pot. You can use the slow cook option if you want to start cooking a meal at an earlier hour or have a longer cook time without constantly keeping an eye on it as it cooks.
The built-in heat source at the base of the Instant Pot allows for cooking food through searing and sautéing. This is perfect for meats and vegetables, and simmering liquid for steaming.
Aside from high pressure and low-pressure options, the Instant Pot also has the ability to hold very low temperatures and so, along with acting as a slow cooker, it can also be used to incubate yogurt.
This contains the brain and the heating element of the Instant Pot. It has a control panel and various buttons for setting the functions, including the pressure cook button that is most commonly used. Depending on your model, the control panel will also have different features like making porridge or soup, and will automatically set its cooking cycle with just a press of a button.
The Instant Pot lid covers the pot, trapping in the hot steam. Some multicookers have detachable lids, and others have lids that are secured to the body of the Instant Pot on a hinge, and this lid always needs to be locked into place before the pressure cooking function can be turned on.
This metal valve indicates when the cooker is pressurized and when it is not. It will pop up when the cooker reaches pressure, and drop down when the pressure is released. You may not be able to see the valve pop up or down if it’s hidden under a plastic cover, which is sometimes the case depending on the model of your Instant Pot.
Found on the lid of the Instant Pot, the steam valve allows the pot to build to high pressure and also have a natural pressure release. The steam valve features a sealing or locked position and a venting or open position.
When using the pressure cooking function, the valve must be in the sealing position, or the pressure won’t build, but when using the slow cooking function, it must be in the venting position for natural pressure release. Most Instant Pots have a steam release valve to release the pressure, but remember to never put your hand or arm over the steam valve.
The float valve is the part of the Instant Pot that shows when it’s under pressure. If the float valve is up, this means it’s not safe to open the Instant Pot. The vent is set to sealing, so if you open the vent, the hot pressurized steam will blow out the top of the machine. It’s this steam that can burn your arm, particularly if you open the valve with your hand in the way.
This plastic cup clips onto the outer body of the Instant Pot, catching any condensation released during slow cooking. You don’t need to use it during pressure cooking as the steam is contained in the machine, but this is an important piece to use for the natural release of condensation for easier cleanup and so you don’t have to worry about damaging the heating element of the Instant Pot.
This is the stainless steel inner pot is where the food cooks. This can easily be removed from the body of the Instant Pot for easy and regular cleaning.
This silicone gasket surrounds the lid and helps seal steam and keep the high pressure within the Instant Pot. Sealing rings also absorb the odor of strongly scented Instant Pot recipes during the cooking process.
This sits in the inner pot and keeps food raised above the liquid when you use an Instant Pot to steam meats and vegetables and don’t want them submerged during the cooking time.
Follow this Instant Pot step-by-step guide for how to do the water test before you begin using your Instant Pot for the first time.
Instant Pots are some of the most innovative kitchen appliances available to us today, allowing us to create easy Instant pot meals that take just a few minutes to cook. This all-in-one pressure cooker is a fantastic investment to make if you’re someone who loves convenience as much as cooking, and learning how to use an Instant Pot is as easy as can be.