Instant Pot Tips & Tricks for Beginners
Having an instant pot in a kitchen can be very useful, especially when you’re super busy and can’t focus on prepping your meals. An instant pot will speed up the cooking process and take care of the otherwise manual steps of cooking.
Cooking in an instant pot can be tricky, as some might anticipate. But if you know what you’re dealing with it can be very simple and also fun! You’ll be compelled to try out the different types of dishes that can be cooked, savory, sweet, beverages and cakes.
If you’re new to using an instant pot here are some clean-cut and no-fuss tips and hacks to ensure that all goes as smoothly as planned. You will have the best dishes ready easily and also help your instant pot have a longer life and usage period.
The exterior of the inner pot should be dry!
The pot in which the meals are cooked is called the inner pot. Before cooking, it is fixed properly onto the electronic cooker base. After each cooking batch, it needs to be washed and cleaned properly.
But before placing it again for cooking you need to be extremely cautious that it is dry from the outside because it comes into direct contact with the electric base. If water molecules seep into the electric counterparts the instant pot might render unusable.
Secure the lid properly
For the most part, an instant post is relatively safe to use in the kitchen but there are instances when you need to be extra cautious. The lid should be closed properly after the ingredients have been placed inside.
You should feel that it has been adjusted and clasped properly and is not loose or uneven from any side. High pressure builds inside the instant pot during the cooking process and one slight mistake can cause a lot of trouble.
A person standing by can be severely burnt and the kitchen and the pot will be really messy.
It takes about 10-15 minutes to build pressure
You might think that once you’ve selected the pressure functionality and closed the lid, the dish has started cooking. But that’s not it. The Instant pot utilizes 10-15 minutes to build the required pressure and it’s only natural.
Switching from the norm to higher pressure is supposed to take time. You’re not working with magic but science! So if your recipe for curry cooking requires 30 minutes’ cook time, plan ahead and know that it’s going to take an additional 15 minutes.
Do not touch the pot while cooking
Parts of the instant pot are heated during the cooking span and touching them will cause your skin to burn. You will need to wait until after the cooking has ended and the parts have become safe to touch and use.
Check and recheck after turning the pot OFF
As in the case of all-electric appliances you need to check the pot after pressing the cancel button. The electric display should show OFF. If there is an electric current running through the pot, a short-circuit or an electric shock might be caused and harm someone.
Take precautions to avoid steam-burning
When you’ve pressure cooked a dish and need to release the pressure through the sealing valve, remember to not look into or put your hands directly above the valve.
Extremely hot steam is supposed to escape through the valve and you might risk burning yourself. Steam-burning can be as severe as burning through flames and in case you’ve burnt yourself and think things have gotten out of hand rush to a doctor immediately.
For a versatile dish combine several features
For a simple dish like broth or porridge one cooking feature will be sufficient. If you’re cooking a versatile dish you can begin with the “sauté button” to brown the chicken with spices before adding the broth.
Press the “pressure cooking” after you’ve tossed in the rest of the ingredients. When the dish is ready and there’s still some time until the family is seated together to feast, you can press the stay warm button so the dish doesn’t turn out cold.
Monitor the temperature
While using the cooking functionality, specifying the exact temperature will help you cook exactly what you want. For example, when I sauté my onions and garlic at the stovetop, I sauté at a higher flame so that the onions turn out crunchier.
You can do this with the instant pot as well. Select a higher temperature alongside the “sauté function” and achieve the desired result. While some dishes need extra heating, others require a consistent lower temperature and the temperature feature will properly cater to your needs.
Avoid overcooking your meals
An instant pot is relatively quick to cook-out meals; it’s not called an instant pot for no reason. Meats caramelize sooner, boneless chicken cuts cook in a time span of 10 minutes. The most vegetable will soften and cook completely in 5 minutes.
Frozen ingredients only take a few minutes longer. You might want to plan the total cook time accordingly. Also, take into account that most recipes you find state the cook time for cooking over flame and the instant pot cook time will differ.
An overcooked meal can be very unsightly and non-appetizing; meat pieces fall apart and the individual flavors all mash up together. You’d definitely want to avoid that.
Pressure Cooking requires some liquid
The science behind pressure cooking is that substantial liquid is required to turn into steam to increase the internal pressure that helps cook the food instantly.
In order to create that pressure, you can add half to one cup of water along with the ingredients so that sufficient steam will be formed. Whenever you plan on using the pressure cooker option in your instant pot remember this step or the pot will not be able to work as effectively.
Proper cleaning will ensure longevity
If you use your instant pot regularly you need to care extra care to keep it clean. Besides the obvious parts that need washing you also need to clean the electronic body and the brim(underneath the lid cover).
Food particles accumulate in these parts. They also mix in with new cooking dishes and affect the flavor. With time, they can also hamper the proper functioning of the pot. Therefore pot cleaning is an important part of kitchen hygiene.
Have an extra pair of sealing rings at hand
You can get these from the store and should keep one exclusively for sweet dishes and the other for savory dishes. This is because the sealing rings absorb the smell of the previously cooked dishes.
A lingering scent of cooked meat can mistakenly be added into the chocolate cupcakes you’re about to cook. Now you don’t like the sound of that. Do you?
Exercise caution while cooking dairy products
Some instant pots have a built-in “dairy cooking” option which will cook dairy well. Other pots without this option pose a lot of problems while cooking dairy using the pressure cooking option.
Often when you’d like a rich creamy texture, adding milk or yogurt leaves lumps in some portions and excess water in some, creating a sort of uneven sauce. Cheese on the other hand over-heats and crackles.
If it escapes out of the sealing valve, you’d be left with cleaning the kitchen surroundings as well the pot with hardened cheese clinging to it. An alternative could be to pressure-cook first and after you’re done pour in the cream or cheese. This will keep the flavor and dairy intact.
Utilize the steaming rack
The steaming rack works exceptionally for steam-cooking vegetables. They will neither overly-soften the veggies nor cook them dry. But you’d also like to try steam-cooking other ingredients which are proved to end up very well.
Desserts, hard-boiled eggs and meat-based meals which don’t require a sauce or where you don’t want the meat to break down can be cooked in a rack.
These are the basic tips every instant pot user needs to know. Keep them in mind and get creative with your meals now! Feel safe to try them out!