Instant Pot Tips and Tricks
Instant Pots are one of the hottest products on the market right now. Everyone is talking about the instant pots. Everyone is interested in how they work and how the food tastes. They can be found everyone. On TV, Pinterest, Youtube. They are reviewed constantly as new products come out. Every manufacturer want’s to get in the instant pot game and contribute to the appliance that is making history.
What makes the Instant Pot so wanted? Well the answer to this question is very obvious if you realize that you can use your instant pot as a slow-cooker but prepare the food a lot faster. Not to mention that it is a pressure cooker, stockpot, rice cooker, yogurt maker etc…It is one of the most versatile cooking appliances on the market and will clear the counter tops in your kitchen.
Don’t be fooled though. Instant pots are not easy to use and there is a serious learning curve. You will have couple of failed meals before you learn how to get your favorite meals right. It’s always important to experiment but if you are a beginner try to follow the recipes that are adapted for instant pots. Don’t forget to follow the instructions.
15 Instant Pot Tips and Tricks
- Don’t rush to start before learning all functions and features of your appliance:
Most of the people get very excited when they buy a new “toy” and they wanna start it right away and make things happen. But have this always on your mind. Instant pot is a complicated cooking machine and should always be operated as instructed. We recommend for you to start with reading the manual and all instructions, feature descriptions and manufacturer recommendations before you start using your new Instant Pot. Instant pots are little bit specific and they require some getting used to. Also, you will have a high success rate when it comes to delicious meals if you know what you are getting into.
- Use as much water( liquids ) as possible:
Instant Pot belongs in the pressure cooker category. If you are familiar with pressure cookers than you will know that they are all about steam. You need a plenty of moisture to heat up and cook. Of course this is not the appliance if you want to roast and bake where you get crispy finish or crust to form. Does wonders with liquid meals like soups, sauces, stews etc…
- Remember that foods cook by surface area:
Some cooking methods don’t require to cut the good in smaller peaces meaning no matter how big the surface of you meal is the most important thing is the volume. This is not the case with the Instant pot. Food cooks by surface are so large pieces of meat or large potatoes would take way longer time to prepare than the same amount of food cut into small pieces. The pressure and steam need to reach every molecule of the good cooking inside the Instant pot. So the best way to speed up the cooking time is cutting your food into smaller pieces.
- Don’t start cooking without a plan:
Before you start loading your instant put remember to read the recipe carefully. Go through the instructions and make a list of any add-ons and attachments you will need to get for your Instant pot and are important to that recipe and other in the future. Couple of the things you might need are: a steamer insert, different sealant rings or special kinds of pans which are purchased separately.
- Do NOT overfill:
Like most known materials, many foods expand when they are treated thermally. Some foods like beans expand 3-4 times more than their original size and remain swollen even after the cooking process is over. Always fill your instant pot to the fill line and leave enough space for all the ingredients that are part of the recipe you chose to prepare. For slow cooking recipes try to keep the liquid from 1 to 2 cups but not less than 1.
- Use separate sealing rings:
The inner seal rings are one of the crucial parts of every instant pot but also they are the only part that take on odor from the ingredients you are cooking. Have different different sealing rings for different kinds of foods. Use one for savory foods (curry, garlic etc.) and one for sweet and mild foods. Doing so will prevent having unwanted smell and taste in your meals.
- Have large quantities of the ingredients:
The best quality about the Instant Pot is that you can make large meals and serve a large family and guests.
You can prepare whole chicken or few dozen boiled eggs and it won’t take too long.
- Be careful with cheese and other dairy products (unless you are trying to make yogurt):
If you are trying to make yogurt then I must say this is one of the best tools to make amazing yogurt. But it does’t work so well when it comes to making some creamy sauces and cheese. Its amazing for cooking pasta since it works so fast so well but adding cheese and dairy products in addition to the past to complete the meal will come out the wrong way. It will be watery and gloppy. Milk can often curdle because of the high temperature. For better results add the cream, milk, cheese or any other dairy product at the end and use the sauté function and stir for a while.
- Use the steaming insert to add foods that have smaller cooking times:
If you ever consider adding some ingredients during cooking then DO NOT forget to depressurize before opening it. Use a heat-safe tool, a steamer insert, ceramic tool or a glass bowl to drop the ingredients. Opening the instant pot won’t really disrupt the cooking process that much because the instant pot will reheat really fast. One such ingredient you can add are eggs.
- How to thicken your meal after cooking?
Instant pots don’t lose any liquids during cooking because it cooks under pressure and does’t allow for the vapor to get out. However, the result is is not as thick as probably expect it or want it to be. To thicken your meal you can add slurry or other thickener used for thickening sauces. Don’t straight add cornstarch or flour to the instant pot because it’s very hard to control and might cause the problem of not enough steam forming inside your instant pot. For the best result we recommend removing some of the liquids from the meal and finish it by using the sauté function.
- Set when to start cooking using the timer:
The delay cooking timer feature works very well in two scenarios. First is when you have calculated the cooking time and you want to start the cooking while you are away and finish it right when you get home. Second, when you need to keep the food warm or warm up a meal that has been cooked previously. Even frozen meals can be defrosted and heated up in a instant pot. The instant pot is so fast that the maximum time you need to wait is always less than an hour but most of the times only 5-10 minutes.
- Always remember that the lid locks when the cooking process starts:
If you are new to this appliance or you haven’t used one for a while you might not consider this functionality of the instant pot. Throughout this article I have asked you multiple times to plan everything and follow manufacturer’s and recipe instruction exactly as they are written. Once you start the cooking process and you realize that you have forgotten to add an ingredient then you will have to wait for the instant pot to depressurize to be able to add the ingredient. Sometimes it might lead to overcooking the meal so always plan before you start the machine.
- Use vinegar or lemon water to clean your Instant Pot:
When you use your instant pot for a longer periods then you notice some mineral build ups in it or maybe even some food remains. This is when you can clean your instant pot with vinegar or steam clean it by boiling water with lemon. This is very useful if you have hard water where this method breaks out the mineral deposits.
- Don’t be afraid to give the inner parts of the Instant Pot a good wash:
Most of the inner parts and accessories from the instant pot can be washed by hand or in a dishwasher. The lid has to be hand washed. Clean it regularly and it will look great, the food will taste just how you want it and you will use your favorite appliance for a long time.
- Change the inner pot or lid as needed:
The Instant Pot comes with a stainless steel inner pot. You could get a second inner pot too. Cook food in one pot and keep to the side or store leftovers. Then use the second pot to cook another dish. The same goes with the lid. You can get a glass lid (similar to a slow cooker lid) to use when for Slow Cooker or Saute function.