Admittedly, I’m a kitchen nerd. I love gadgets and gizmos. Perusing the aisles of kitchen stores is my idea of a good time. However, I also don’t like single purpose tools. In order to be a good value, a new tool purchase needs to really earn its keep and valuable counter space. What about the Instant Pot?
When I first heard of this electric pressure cooker, the Instant Pot, I didn’t jump right on that train. I don’t have extra money to waste if a product isn’t worth the cost. Also, I wanted to see if those who purchased an Instant Pot right away were still happily using it months down the road.
What finally convinced me was a visit to Washington state to visit a very dear friend of mine. Crystal of Homemaking on the Homestead has been a homemaking mentor to me for many years. When I saw the Instant Pot on her counter, I knew that she found it valuable enough to keep it in such a prominent place.
Once Crystal showed me how simple the Instant Pot was to use and how very many dishes can be made with it, I knew that I needed to invest in one soon.
Thanks to my folks who gifted me my “magic pot,” I’ve been using my Instant Pot nearly daily for about six weeks.
Getting Started With Your New Instant Pot:
Pressure cooking didn’t scare me as I’ve canned with a pressure canner for years. There is really nothing to be scared of when using a pressure canner, but this electric one is truly user-friendly!
Remember that I said that I don’t like single-use tools? Well, the Instant Pot is SO much more than a single-use tool! This is the model that I own- DUO 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt. It produces the perfect rice (and I’ve tried many ways to cook rice from boiling to baking!), chicken breasts that taste like they’ve been roasted, hard-boiled eggs that are a dream to peel (even farm fresh eggs!), broths & stocks that are very rich, a delectable cheesecake, the best beans, and OH so much more!
I mentioned the best beans. I’ve been married for 26 years. In all of that time, I’ve never cooked a pot of beans that I felt were perfect. It hasn’t mattered which cooking method I used, they typically turned out still too hard or absolutely mushy. I am happy to report (and so is my Honey!) that I have been able to make lima beans that are perfectly cooked with the Instant Pot!
When you remove your Instant Pot from its box, there is very little set up involved. Add the condensation cup to the back of the unit (this collects condensation so that it doesn’t run down the back of your unit.) Turn the IP around so that you can see the area where this attaches. It just slides into place.
It just slides into place.
The first thing to do is the water test. This is a simple “test” just to help familiarize you to your new Instant Pot.
The reason for this water test is a trial run so that you can see how to lock the lid, set the pressure release valve, and complete a quick pressure release. It also helps you get over the initial “nerves” that may be present. It’s a helpful “test” and if you are new to the electric pressure cooker world, I do recommend you completing it.
To perform the water test:
Place the insert into the IP
Add 2 cups of tap water.
Plug the cord into the outlet and into the IP (if it’s not attached)
Attach the lid. The IP will chime when you add the lid. This sounds always makes me smile.
Once the lid is on, follow these simple directions:
Set the Pressure Release Valve to “sealing.” This is as simple as pushing it to the back.
On the control panel, press Manual.
Next, press the “-” button until 5 shows on the display.
There is no start button. The IP will wait about 30 seconds, then turn on. You’ll see the display change from the “5” you entered to “On.” The IP is now building pressure.
It typically takes about 3-5 minutes for the IP to pressurize. You’ll know that it has reached pressure when you see the silver float valve pop up into place. You shouldn’t see any steam leaking out. If you do, check to be sure that you’ve tightened the lid in place and that the pressure release valve is indeed set to “sealing.”
Once the IP has reached pressure, you’ll notice the display changes from “On” to “5.”
The clock will count down and when the time is up, the IP will beep. At this point, you have two options. One is the Natural Pressure Release. This will take about 10 minutes to complete. There is nothing for you to do if you choose this option. The pressure will come down slowly on its own. When you see the float valve pop back down, you’ll know the NPR is complete and you can then remove the lid.
The second option is to perform a Quick Pressure Release. To do a QPR, simply turn the pressure release valve from “sealing” to “venting.” If steam escapes during a QPR, hold the valve in place with a dish towel. Also, when you remove the lid, do so by opening it away from your face in case there is more steam.
That’s it! You’ve just cooked in your new Instant Pot electric pressure cooker!
Now, what about all of those buttons?! Honestly, the different function buttons are fine, but I tend to only use three, saute, manual, and keep warm/cancel. The pre-sets have specific defaults that can be adjusted. The other buttons that I will use are:
Yogurt– used for making yogurt. I have not made yogurt in my IP yet, so I have not used this one.
Slow Cooker- this one defaults to a 4 hour cook time. The choices here are low (190-201°F), normal (194-205°F ) or high (199-210°F). Adjust the cooking time by using the “+” and “-” buttons.
Pressure- this allows you to switch between low and high pressure
Timer- used for delayed cooking. To use the timer function, select a cooking function first, make any desired adjustments, then press the timer button. Adjust the delay time with the “+” and “-” buttons.
Most of all, don’t be overwhelmed by all of the buttons!
I think the one thing to remember is that many recipes don’t take into account the time it takes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure or the time to release that pressure. They typically share the actual cooking time only. If you see a recipe that says “cook a chicken in 10 minutes,” just know that you’ll need to add typically 10 minutes to come up to pressure and another 10-15 minutes for that pressure to release.
When you’re ready to cook in your Instant Pot, the basic instructions are just like the water test that you already performed. Fill the insert with the ingredients, put the lid on firmly, move the pressure release valve to sealing, set the cooking time, and let it cook! That’s it. Once the cooking time is up, you have the choice to do a QPR or allow the IP to do a NPR. If you’ve cooked beans or rice, it is better to choose the NPR. Both of those items will foam, which will send foam along with the steam out of the release valve. This will clog the valve. Also, some recipes count on that additional time in the NPR stage to complete the cooking process.
A friend of mine asked what the benefit was to this Instant Pot over her current stove-top pressure cooker. In a single word? Convenience! There is no babysitting the IP as you do with a stove-top model. No adjusting the gas stove flame to ensure the proper pressure is maintained. When the IP is done cooking, it automatically goes into a “keep warm” state and will remain there for up to 10 hours, or until you cancel it. With a stove-top model, if you don’t turn the flame off, the pressure is maintained and the food keeps cooking.
If you haven’t ventured into the world of the Instant Pot, let me encourage you to do so! As I stated earlier, I use my IP almost daily. I am a person that loves to cook and have found even more inspiration to do so with this new “magic pot.”
If you have an Instant Pot, I’d love for you to share your favorite recipe! Check out our Facebook group, Instant Pot for Busy Homemakers, and join in the sharing and fun!
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