Getting To Know Your Instant Pot – Tips, Tricks and Hidden Features

Can you recall this Image without looking at it twice? Do you remember the Article on: “Must Have Gadgets to Make Prep Easier?” Can you recall the first Gadget in that article? In case you don’t, it’s THE INSTANT POT! I am sure you reminisce that Instant Pots have become a meal prepper’s best friend in the kitchen and will definitely save you a lot of time when prepping for the week, but this gadget has become more of a basic and essential meal prep gadget rather than an innovation. You can even give your Instant Pot new life by hopping on board the bone broth trend that has seemed to rule this year. But what you don’t know is that there are important tips you must know if you want to make optimal use of the Instant Pot and the Instant Pot has Secrets and Hidden Features. Join me as we explore THE INSTANT POT.

The Instant Pot is reckoned as one of the most versatile, time-efficient, and flavorful additions you can make to your kitchen. It has phenomenal features like: The Pressure cooker which can prepare anything and everything in less than no time; advanced Instant Pot models can even be linked to a Wi-Fi for remote temperature and timer controls. Let’s get down to business – The Tips, Secret and Hidden Features that will make you feel like an Instant Pot Expert.

Instant Pot Tips For Beginners

The following video is a great starting point for those just entering the world of Instant Pots.

Use At Least Half a Cup Of Liquid When Using A Pressure Cooker

A pressure cooker uses steam which cooks the food via pressure that it builds. In order to create that pressure, the inner pot must have one cup of liquid at least; by so doing, pressurizing the unit. This is the only way to pressurize the unit and it is a very vital tip if you want to optimally use the pressure cooker setting on your Instant Pot.

Use Liquids Other Than Water to Add Flavor

In order to get the best out of your Instant Pot, replace water with flavorful liquids like broths, juices and stocks as it can add a ton of flavor to your dishes. By adding a mix of tomato broth and chicken broth with a bit of sautéed onions and garlic, you can turn basic rice into a flavorful side or you can add flavor to your chicken by swapping the water for chicken broth.

Use Multiple Features When Cooking (Saute First)

Most people think that they are required to make use of just one button in each cooking session. You can start with the sauté button to help caramelize your onions or brown your meat while beginning the cooking process, then use the cooking button for pressure when it’s time to add the remaining ingredients. Once the food is ready to eat, put the pot on the Keep Warming setting until everyone in the family is ready to eat together. Bon Apetit!

Adjust the Temperature

Did you know that you can adjust the temperature of the Instant Pot when using the Saute or Slow Cooker functions even after selecting the cooking function in your Instant Pot? You might think that once you’ve selected a cooking function, that’s that but the temperature of the Instant Pot is adjustable especially when using the Saute or Slow Cooker functions. Some dishes may need a slightly higher temperature, while you may want to turn down the heat on other dishes.

Add 10-15 Minutes to your Meal Planning Time When Using Pressure

In order to achieve optimal result, it is very imperative that you add 10 – 15 minutes to your meal planning time when using pressure. This is because it takes about 10 minutes to build the required pressure within the inner pot for cooking. So whenever you’re using one of the pressure buttons, you’ll want to add about 10-15 minutes of cooking time to let the unit sufficiently pressurize. For example, if your pot boils rice with 20 inutes cooking time, it’s important you let your family know that dinner will be ready in about 35 minutes (after you press the button).

Don’t Put Your Face over the Steam

Inasmuch as the Instant Pot is a very safe kitchen appliance to use, it is pertinent you practice common-sense safety measures while using the pressure modes. When you release the pressure using the sealing valve manually, burning hot steam starts shooting out of the valve. In order not to get a face-full of steam, do not look down at the valve because the end result is not funny, one bit!

Don’t Overcook

Instant Pot is not called ‘Instant’ for calling sake. It can fully cook your food extremely quick. For instance, your Instant Pot can fully cook your foods extremely quickly. Depending on the size of the cut, boneless chicken breast can cook in around 10 minutes, while a frozen cut takes only a few minutes longer. You can cook most veggies in under five minutes (except for potatoes, artichokes, beets, and a few others). If you overcook your meats and veggies out of fear of eating under-cooked ingredients, your meal won’t turn out as well. Keep in mind, you can add more cooking time if needed, but you can’t go back in time and cook your foods less.

Have an Extra Inner Pot on Your Hand

As a phenomenal pot, the Instant Pot comes with an inner pot which one can use to cook his or her food, but to achieve optimal result from your Instant Pot, it is important that you have multiple inner pots at your disposal. This allows you to cook many dishes in one cooking session without having to wash the in-between pot. Thus, making it easy for you to cook multiple recipes in one single Instant Pot. Mind blowing right?

Purchase Extra Sealing Rings

Due to the fact that the sealing rings tend to hold onto the smells of previously cooked dishes, it is important that you should buy a set of extra sealing rings, keeping one for bitter or savory dishes and one for sweet dishes. I am sure you don’t want that cheesecake you cooked yesterday seeping into the delicious chicken broth you’re making today. Do you?

Be Careful with Dairy

Inasmuch as many Instant Pots has a yogurt-making function which works really well, this appliance doesn’t always cook creamy and cheesy sauces very well. This is so because milk can scald quickly, and cheese can get watery and even congeal. Due to this irregularity due to the nature of the Dairy as the case may be, when using products from the dairy to make a creamy or cheesy recipe, add the dairy ingredients after the pressure cooking process is complete. This way, the dish will be creamier; neither watery nor curdled. More so, you won’t have a huge mess in your kitchen if the cheese sauce sputters out of the sealing valve.

Be Prepared to Thicken

The Instant Pot is really good at retaining liquid. Although this is a phenomenal feature of the Instant Pot, it can actually turn into a negative when you cook dishes that have a little too much liquid. When this occurs, add a bit of cornstarch mixed with water to help thicken up the dish. Do not add the thickener at the beginning of the cooking process but after the cooking process. This is because the thickening agent like cornstarch amongst others can interfere with the steam being generated by the Instant Pot. Abuse or misuse of a thickener can be very catastrophic to your meal that it ought to salvage.

Instant Pot Care and Cleaning

We will now spend some time leaning and how to clean an instant pot and a few general maintenance tips.

Use the Dishwasher

A dish washer can come in handy to clean up the Instant Pot’s non-electronic parts like the inner pot and steam rack, thus, bringing about a very straightforward and time-saving cleanup process. The outside of the Instant Pot can be easily wiped down with a wet towel but bear in mind that the lid does not need to be hand-washed, but can’t you wash one part by hand?

Clean the Nooks and Crannies Regularly

Rice, sauce and juices can accumulate the brim of an Instant Pot (where the lid sits) and make the Instant Pot extremely dirty after a few uses. This accumulation of dish particles can make your Instant Pot look and smell pretty gross. Wipe out all of the nooks and crannies to keep your pot at its best.

More an care and cleaning for the Instant Pot

Use the Steaming Rack for more than just Veggies

Most Instant Pot models come with a steaming rack. Indeed, the rack works great for steaming veggies but it can be used for endless other purposes other than steaming veggies especially when you don’t want your ingredients to come into too much contact with the liquid at the bottom of the pot. It’s especially useful when you want to make hard-boiled eggs, desserts and meats you want to keep whole (and not shred).

Take Advantage of Aluminum Foil

There are a lot of accessories for your Instant Pot like: silicone muffin cups, springform pans, colanders, protective grips for your hand and many more. Be that as it may, the best accessory for your Instant Pot is probably already in your Kitchen. You may be asking yourself, what could that be? Plain Old Aluminum Foil! You can use foil to create packets for your ingredients, use it to make a sling to help you grab something out of your pot and so much more.

Use the Instant Pot Handles as a Lid Holder

With invention of the latest Instant Pot Models and the addition of lid handles, there’s lesser risk of getting hit with a bath of steam when you open the pot. Not just that, you can also use the handle to prop the lid open, allowing easier access to the freshly cooked food you may be keeping inside the pot. There is absolutely no need to transfer your batch of chili to individual dishes when your dinner guests can scoop straight from the Instant Pot.

Prepare Frozen Food Items

It is a norm for you to wait for your meat to defrost before tossing them in your Instant Pot. But there’s no need to wait. With items like chicken, fish and other meats, the only thing you’ll have to do to compensate for the freeze is to add a few minutes of prep time to the initial pressurizing. Just pop your poultry in, and your Instant Pot will cook through as if the meat were already defrosted.

Keep Warm for the Win

If you’re done cooking an Instant Pot meal but aren’t ready to put the contents into a Tupperware container, double-check that the Keep Warm function is turned on. This function will keep your food nice and hot if you get distracted or simply can’t make it to the cooker right away. Smart Instant Pot machines can also be switched to a convenient Keep Warm mode directly from your phone.

Cut Down on the Smell

If your Instant Pot starts emitting an unpleasant odor, you can try this all-natural cleaning method. Mix two cups of vinegar with a few drops of lemon, sprinkle in a small amount of baking soda and combine with water. Then start the Instant Pot on quick cook mode. With these measures, you will notice that the nasty smell has gone away. This particular process can also help eliminate caked-on stains in the inner pot thus making your Instant Pot smell and look a whole lot better.

Invest in Accessories

Did you know that you can upgrade your Instant Pot from incredible to downright amazing? You can do so by choosing from a wide range of add-ons like steamer baskets which can help you to cook vegetables and various meats. An Instant Pot Air Fryer lid can come in handy to whip up batches of French fries, mozzarella sticks and other fried goodies.
Embark on Vacation or Travel with your Instant Pot
Did you know that you can travel with your instant pot? Yes you can. This is so because the Instant Pot is portable, mobile and very durable and as such you can carry it along while travelling or camping. The Instant Pot can be specifically money saving for a larger family and save them the inconvenience of eating in an eatery.

10 Awesome Instant Pot Accessories

Use Cheaper Cuts of Meat

The Instant Pot can come in handy to tenderize or soften the most stubborn cuts of meat especially stew meat or a chuck roast, thus saving you the cost of cutting your meat.

More Instant Pot Tips

Other Tips, Tricks and Hidden Features of the Instant Pot are outlined below:
⦁ The Instant Pot is a brand of electric pressure. It is an Instant Pot not Insta Pot. No appliance is called “Instapot.”
⦁ The first thing you should do with your Instant Pot is to read the instruction manual and perform the water test.
⦁ The steam knob is supposed to be wiggly.
⦁ The manual button/pressure cook button is the most used button in the Instant Button.
⦁ Inasmuch as the Kitchen Appliance is called, Instant Pot, it does not cook anything instantly. In fact, it takes times for the pot to come to pressure (usually 10 minutes). The phenomenal attribute of the Instant Pot is that it is faster than your normal pot in cooking dishes.
⦁ It is a hands off method of cooking which allows you to do other things while cooking.
⦁ The lid in the Instant Pot can be washed by hand or in the top rack of the dishwasher.
⦁ The Stainless steel liner has the tendency of being ruined after some time of usage. Hakuna Matata, a little white vinegar or Barkeeper’s friend will make the liner shiny again. 
⦁ The sealing ring has the tendency of being smelly. In order to avoid this abnormali, store your Instant Pot with the lid upside down. This will enable the odor to dissipate.
⦁ The rim under the lid should be cleaned with a foam paint brush, q-tip or a rag covered butter knife.
⦁ It will take more time for the pot to come to pressure if the pot is full and the temperature of the food is cool.
⦁ It takes time and requires more liquid for a larger pot to reach pressure.
⦁ There are two types of Pressure Release in the Instant Pot, Natural Pressure Release (NPR) and Quick Pressure Release (QPR).
⦁ Do not cook with plastic in your Instant Pot under pressure. Silicone cookware is most advisable to use.
⦁ The Instant Pot is not the best cooking method for every type of dish that you want to cook. It varies.
⦁ A large chunk of the outer portion of your Instant Pot is made of plastic. Keep your Instant Pot away from the pot or it will melt.
⦁ Without the liner in your pot, do not ever cook anything.
⦁ Do not POUR anything directly into the pot. Always use the liner.
⦁ Doubling a recipe does not necessarily require you to double the amount of time. Most times, you even have to decrease the cooking time but doubling the THICKNESS of meats, veggies, and other foods DOES require increasing cook time.
⦁ There is no ascertained cooking time that will work for all chicken breasts. It varies or differs based on Size.
⦁ You can adjust the saute setting to different heat settings. Use the adjust button to set the saute to LESS for simmer, NORMAL to sauté and MORE for browning.
⦁ Eveaporation is impossible with a Pressure Cooker. Make sure you season to taste before serving food. You can thicken foods with a cornstarch slurry.
⦁ Many people complain that food sticks to their stainless steel pot when they use the saute setting. Turn the pot to the saute setting and wait for the display to read HOT. Once it says hot you can add in your cool oil and saute your onions or brown your roast. The food won’t stick!
Putting into practice all these Instant Pot Tips, Secrets and Hidden Features will endear you the opportunity to optimally use your Instant Pot. Bon Apetit!

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