Instant Pot – Tips For Beginners
If you’ve never used this amazing appliance you might feel a little intimidated at first. So, let’s get rid of your concerns!
Your food will likely take longer to cook than the stated time in your recipe.
Most recipes will indicate a specific cooking time, but when you’re using an Instant Pot, you may need more time. This is because the pot needs to be heated up before starting to cook, which takes time. It also takes time for the pressure to be released afterwards. Your food will take about 10 minutes longer than your recipe’s cook time when using an Instant Pot, so plan accordingly and you’ll be fine.
Frozen foods do not need to be defrosted ahead of being cooked in an Instant Pot.
There is no need to defrost frozen fruits, vegetables, or anything else before putting them into an Instant Pot to cook. Once cooked, there won’t be any difference in taste. However, you may want to cook everything a little longer if most of your ingredients are frozen.
Take advantage of the sauté function on the Instant Pot.
You can use the Instant Pot as a frying pan to sauté garlic, onions, or peppers to add flavor to your meal. Use the sauté function on the pot for this before putting in the rest of your ingredients. This also allows the pot to be hot by the time you add everything else, which saves cooking time. You can also try using less oil or substituting it with water. I’ve tried this and my meals have turned out just as tasty.
Dry beans, rice, and other grains do not need to be soaked or cooked first.
What’s great about the Instant Pot is how fast your food gets cooked without any prior prep work. I keep dry ingredients in mason jars for making quick tasty meals of Spanish rice, lentil dal, or split pea soup after work. It couldn’t be easier with my Instant Pot.
For cleanliness, rinse your dry grains, beans, and legumes before putting them in the pot.
Just to be safe it’s important that you thoroughly rinse all grains before cooking them. Place them in a strainer or colander to rinse them under running water. This will ensure that the food you eat is clean. If you’re concerned about passing wind after eating beans, you might want to soak them in water for an hour before putting them in the pot.
The venting knob must be set first before setting the cooking function.
If you forget to set the venting knob, it won’t ruin your meal, but it will cause delays. When I first got my Instant Pot, I forgot about this a few times and even once left it to the end. My meal wasn’t ruined, but it wasn’t cooked either. So, I had to run it through cooking time again.
The venting knob’s Quick Release is different from its Natural Release.
Quick Release: To release the pressure in just 1-2 minutes, turn the venting knob.
Natural Release: By not touching the venting knob, the pressure will take about 15 minutes to release naturally. The pin next to the knob will drop when it’s finished.
It’s important to cook with at least 1 cup of liquid in the Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, which means it depends on steam to cook your meal. You can use water, broth, or some other liquid, but there must be at least 1 cup in the pot. Otherwise, your meal won’t cook properly and could even burn.
Too much liquid in the pot could make your meal less flavorful.
When using your Instant Pot fill it 2/3 up with food ingredients with at least 1 cup of liquid. If you are cooking beans, grains, or other dry foods that will expand, it’s best to only fill it halfway. If you add too much liquid to the pot, your meal may not be as tasty, so you might want to add some seasoning.
Food can be cooked in glass jars inside an Instant Pot.
You can cook eggs, steel-cut oats, and other foods inside a glass jar if it’s small enough to fit inside.
The Instant Pot may be inconsistent when it comes to cooking rice.
Even though the Instant Pot is an incredible pressure cooker, it won’t cook everything perfectly. Rice is a perfect example, so if you’re a rice perfectionist do not toss out your rice cooker. The most common complaint is inconsistency. Barley is cooked with a 1:4 grain/water ratio and takes 25-30 minutes, whereas quinoa is cooked with a 1:2 ratio and takes 8 minutes. Some users claim that the “Rice” function cooks white rice perfectly, but others say you need to experiment a bit until you get the results you want.
But the Instant Pot does a decent job when cooking a rice dish with other ingredients if it’s timed properly for the type of rice. No one would say that it cooks rice badly, but you may want to use a rice cooker for best results. Many people use both when making a rice dish in an Instant Pot. This way they have perfectly cooked rice ready to add when it comes out of the Instant Pot.
The sealing ring may pick up an odor but can be removed for cleaning or replacement.
Another common complaint is regarding the sealing ring on the Instant Pot. Some users claim it can start smelling like the food being cooked inside, so it needs to be removed and cleaned. Others say it’s easier to have separate sealing rings, one for each type of scent (sweet, sour, spicy, etc.). And some just periodically replace the sealing ring. In my opinion, this is not a problem. I’ve been using mine almost daily for three months and I can’t smell any odor and all I’ve done to keep it clean is rinse it occasionally.
Get the Silicone Trivet!
To make lifting food out much easier, use a silicone sling. Your Instant Pot comes with a small metal rack — aka a trivet — but a common user complaint is the short handles make removing things a bit fumbly. This extended silicone sling solves for that — and is great for lifting and lowering stuff like cheesecake, lasagna, and hardboiled eggs. It’s also dishwasher-safe.