Have you jumped on the Instant Pot Crazy? Are you one of those Instant Pot owners who still has their Instant Pot in the box? Are you afraid you will blow something up under all that pressure? Well, you are NOT alone! Actually most people are afraid of this new device for their kitchen. I say “new” because Instant Pot is a new appliance you can purchase, however Pressure Cookers have been around for ever. So there really isn’t any “new” about it. Just all the bells and whistles that come with the Instant Pot to make life so much easier. It’s wonderful. Before you make any assumptions, I was one of you. I really was. In fact over a year ago I purchase one of these contraptions and tried it out on numerous meals. They were all FAILS! I was so discouraged. My meat wasn’t cooked all the way, or I burned things. You name it, I did it! So, I gave up. Boxed it up and sent it away. It took me a year to get over the horror of my fails in the kitchen before I thought that maybe I could give it a try again. I was hesitant of course, but with all the online help I knew I could find success. So let me tell you all that I’ve learned.
Keep it Super Simple ~ KISS
Somehow I thought I needed to make that stunning cheesecake the second I opened up the box. Or, I needed to make the fabulously delicious full meal with veggies, rice and mouthwatering roast. Think again! None of us learned how to drive a car when we were 4, we had to learn on something smaller like a bike, with training wheels, and parents running with us. haha…BUT really! Why do we think we can be masterful with a new appliance that cooks totally different than anything else we have ever used? Keep it Super Simple (KISS) for short. Let’s start small and built up.
The Instant Pot has many features and each model has different bells and whistles. But let’s begin with what each Instant Pot has. It’s important to note that the silicone gasket is what keeps the pressure in your pot. It is your friend. Take it out, put it back in, and remember to WASH IT! I was afraid I’d never figure out how to put the gasket back in right. Made me super nervous. Well, it’s really easy. It fits behind the metal ring from the lid. And you just push it into place little by little as you go around the lid. It’s not hard or difficult. But it’s important that you have the silicone gasket or you won’t be able to pressure anything up and you will get frustrated.
Each Instant Pot also has a drain cup to catch any of the excess liquid that comes from venting. It helps keep your counters clean. It’s one of those things that is easily forgotten because it’s hidden in the back. But trust me. Wash it out! It will slide into position and hold secure. It’s easy to forget it’s even there but you will be grateful when it catches all the condensation.
The pressure valve is sort of a big deal. I have found this is what makes most people nervous. So let’s take a look at it. On the top you will see a knob. The knob is the pressure valve. This little knob of sorts seems wobbly at times, like it could be “broke”. It’s not. That’s just how it has to be to be pressure sensitive. So don’t panic, you didn’t receive a faulty machine and you didn’t break something. Just trust me! The knob has 2 positions, towards the back is in the “Closed” position. Pointing more forward is in the “Open” position. But keep in mind neither of these two positions are overly dramatic from each other in the way they point. See the photos to see that the knob doesn’t move all that much. But the knob is wiggly. This is because it’s pressure sensitive and when it gets bumped it will release steam. If you try to make something with the valued in the open position, it will never pressure up. Before making anything make sure you point the pressure valve back so that pressure can build up inside and seal everything off.
The inside of the lid has the silicone gasket, the exhaust valve and float valve. Don’t worry about anything other than the silicone gasket which needs to be properly put in place and removed to be washed. Food and other items will get caught under this. So take the time to be familiar with the gasket and take it in and out so you know how to put it in correctly.
How do Close Lid on Instant Pot?
It’s sort of obvious that the lid needs to be closed. At first I struggled with how to set the lid into the pot base. It was awkward at best. If you realize that the lick needs to be locked, you will soon get the hang of where you put the lid to start. With your hand grasping firmly to the handle you will place the lid at a “2” position of a clock. Meaning your thumb of your left hand that grasps the handle will be in the “2” position. Set the lid in place and rotate the lid clockwise so your thumb is now in the “3” position. It’s that easy and will save you fumbling of where to place the lid to begin with like I did.
What does it all mean?
QR = Quick Release
Once a recipe has completed you will open up the Pressure Valve. All the steam will shoot to the ceiling and release the pressure quickly. Put a towel over the Pressure Valve so you don’t have steam everywhere. I use a wash cloth folded in quarters. Then I don’t have to worry about the steam burning me when I open up the valve.
NR = Natural Release `
Some Recipes call for a natural release which means after your recipe has completed with the cook time, you allow it to sit for the specified release time which can range from recipe to recipe. As the pressure is being released the food is still cooking. This is perfect for roasts that you want so tender among other things.
NPR 10 Min
This means Natural Pressure Release (same as PR) for 10 minutes and then open the valve to release the rest of the pressure. You will see this on recipes with varying time
Initial Test Run. A trial run using just water to familiarize you with how the Instant Pot works. This also tests the seal. Place 1 cup of water into your Instant Pot. Set to manual for 2 minutes. The Instant Pot should pressure up, the pressure valve pin should raise.
Float Valve. This is the little pin by thee Pressure Valve that lifts up when the pressure has formed inside. The pin on some machines will pop up tall like a gopher out of it’s hole. Others will only pop up flush with the top of the lid. It doesn’t make a difference either way. It’s the same.
A trivet is the metal rack that goes in the bottom of your pot to keep food out of the liquid. Some Instant Pots come with a short trivet and a taller trivet. Each are useful for different reasons.
Seal / Ring
Silicone sealing ring or gasket for lid. This can be removed to clean but must be replaced properly to form a seal.
What is HBE?
HBE stands for Hard Boiled Egg. This is a very popular item to make in your Instant Pot. Super easy too.
What is PIP?
PIP stands for Pot In Pot. Food is put in pan/bowl before putting in Instant Pot. Some recipes call for the ingredients to be in a pan or bowl. These pans be checked before use to make sure they can withstand the pressure. Cheesecake would be a great example recipe for PIP.
Tip of the Day:
Did you know about the Lid Holder? Yeah well, what may seem obvious is not always obvious to everyone. So the rectangle end of the lid that helps lock it into place, is also used to slide into the rectangle hole on the Instant Pot. Take a look! You can place the lid on either side too. Super handy so you don’t set the lid on the counter with all that condensation in it and make a mess. Just let the excess condensation run to your Condensation cup and you will be mess free!
In the end remember to KISS. Keep it Super Simple. You will get the hang of it soon enough and love it! Try out an easy recipe like Mac and Cheese. It’s wonderful and perfect every time. Plus it tastes like mom used to make! My teenager loves it and now has learned to make it on his own when he gets home from school. It’s wonderful!