Are you a beginner or a new owner of an electric pressure cooker and you are looking for how to go about the use of this cooker? Here is a complete guide on how to use an instant pot and electric pressure cookers.
As a beginner or first time user of an electric pressure cooker, it is understandable that you might have one or two issues with using them. Yes, all the buttons and configuration might be intimidating at first.
Then, I can assure you that using an instant pot is quite easy. So, you shouldn’t be intimidated by the buttons, configurations and safety warnings. They all make your cooking easy and seamless.
In this guide, I will show you all that you need to know about the electric pressure cooker or an instant pot, and answer your questions regarding how to use them.
What is an Instant Pot?
Instant Pot is a brand name/producers of an electric pressure cooker. It is the most popular type of electric cooker in the world today, and it is known mostly for its pressure cooking features.
With an instant pot, everything does not end at pressure cooking – far from it. With an instant pot you can pressure cook, you can do slow cooking, you can sauté, you can make yogurt, and you have a cooker that serves as an egg boiler and rice cooker.
The instant pot works in a way that allows steam pressure to build up quickly inside the cooker, thereby creating an environment with higher temperature. This in turn helps cook food faster.
Identifying all Parts of an Instant Pot/Electric Pressure Cooker
Let’s itemize and talk about the different parts of an instant pot.
- Outer part/base unit – this is the part of the cooker that houses the heating element.
- Lid – this is the cover of the pot, and has other functions, depending on your model of instant pot.
- Inner pot (stainless steel) – this is the part that foods go into, and it is inserted into the base unit.
- Steam release valve – This is fit onto the lid, and as the name suggests, it is used to release steam.
- Condensation collector – it is a detachable part of the instant pot that is attached to the back of the pot, and collects liquid coming out of the pot.
- Trivet – this is the part of the instant pot that is used to keep the food you are cooking, or cooking containers from having contact with the pot base.
- Sealing ring – this fits around the inside rim of the pot cover. It functions as forming a pressure-tight seal between the body and cover of the pressure cooker while cooking.
- Steamer rack/basket – this functions as a container to be placed on the trivet, and separates the food from the water.
- Power cord – for powering the instant pot.
- User manual – this is a helpful resource for questions regarding your instant pot.
Before you fit all the parts together, it is important you ensure that they are all clean – wash the parts, but don’t immerse the base unit and the lid in water, although the company said the lid is dishwasher safe.
Setting up your Instant Pot
The next step here is to set up the instant pot for use. If you notice, many of the parts of the instant pot are already fit into where they ought to be. However, for those that are not, you should do it yourself.
In the subsequent paragraphs, I will show you how to set up the instant pot.
Placing the stainless steel inner pot inside the outer body (base unit)
This step is important. You need to fit the inner pot inside the base unit, and you should never try to cook with the outer part as this may damage your instant pot.
Attach the power cord
Attach the power cord to the pot. One end of the cord is where you can plug to power source, while the other end is where you can connect to the power source.
Attach the condensation collector
Next is to attach the condensation collector to the base unit. The condensation collector is a plastic cup that comes with your instant pot, and it is used to collect condensation from the pot, especially when you slow cook.
Testing your Instant Pot
Having done all of this, it is now important you test your instant pot to know about its functionality and usage. In order to do this, follow my guide.
Cooking with your instant pot
- Pour about 3 cups of water into the pot.
- Place the lid of the pot, and turn to lock it.
- Press the MANUAL button on the pot, and press the ( + ) or ( – ) buttons immediately to set to 2 minutes.
- After the steam must have built up, the floating valve on the lid will pop up.
- At this stage the led light will display 2, signifying the 2 minutes you earlier set the cooking to, and the pot will continue cooking until it gets to that 2 minutes.
- Having gotten to the end of your cooking, press the KEEP WARM/CANCEL button.
Releasing pressure manually or naturally with instant pot
After the step above, you don’t want to open your instant pot immediately – don’t do that, it is not safe. After you must have turned off the pot, the next thing to do is to release the pressure that have built up from the cooking.
Releasing pressure from instant pot can be done in two ways, first is to release manually, then the second is to allow natural release of pressure – the one to use depends on the type of food you are cooking.
The rule of thumb here is to manually release pressure (quick release) for subtle seafood or vegetables; while you should naturally allow pressure to release when you are cooking foods with heavy liquid, such as soup.
Cooking Stages of an Instant Pot
For cooking in an instant pot, there are 3 stages involved. One is the preheating and pressurizing stage, second is the cooking stage and third is the depressurizing stage.
If you are keen on how to use an instant pot, then you should note that all three are important things to always remember.
Preheating and pressurizing stage
Here is the first process of cooking with an instant pot. Having put your food and power up the instant pot, the pot heats up, thereby generating steam and pressure.
The time is takes to fully pressurize depends on the food that you place inside the pot. At this stage, the food starts cooking, however, not fully, because it’s not as hot as it should be yet.
Here, the timer you set starts counting down. This is the stage where the food gets really cooked. This works by pushing all the built up pressure and steam into the food, thus making the cooking process very fast.
Having finished with cooking the food, I mean when the time you set initially must have ran out, the pots heating system goes down. Now, it is time to allow the heat, steam and pressure gathered inside the pot to escape.
There are two ways for this to happen. One, is to allow the pressure to release naturally – here, you don’t have to do anything, just leave the pot as it is, and the pressure will escape by itself. This usually takes around 10 – 30 minutes, depending on the content of the food and how long it is cooked.
Second, is to manually release the pressure, which is also known as quick release. Here, you turn the pressure release switch to venting and allow the pressure to quickly rush out of the pot.
Using High and Low Pressure in Instant Pot
Cooking at high pressure is the most common, we want our food to get done faster. However, there are some cases where you will need to cook at low pressure.
For foods such as eggs, vegetable, custard, fruits and delicate seafood, you need to cook them at low pressure. The essence of this is to avoid overcooking them.
How to Store an Instant Pot
Whenever you are done using your instant pot, it is important to keep all the parts clean and ensure they are properly kept in a safe place.
First, ensure that wherever you are keeping the pot is clean and dry, and also while keeping it, make sure the lid is upside down.
Final Thoughts on How to Use an Instant Pot
Cooking with an instant pot is one way of you enjoying your cooking, thanks to the smartness, the swiftness and the hands-free feature of the cooker.
Reading the manual that comes with your instant pot is very important. You should not discard it, as you can always go back to it for help. Also, asking question on search engines like Google and Bing will most likely bring our responses that solves your query.
The water test is something I always recommend for beginners, as it gives you the chance of understanding and familiarizing yourself with your instant pot.
Also, don’t forget to start with little recipes. You are new to your instant pot, or should I say your instant pot is new to you. So, start with recipes that are simple to make, and you get bolder with time.
About the safety, instant pot is very safe to use in your kitchen, so you don’t have to worry about using an instant pot if you have heard horrific stories about the stovetop pressure cooker – their mechanisms are quite different.
If you are interested in learning how to safely use a stovetop pressure cooker, the, this guide is for you.
Having completed this guide on how to use an instant pot, you should be confident of using it, and not worried about setting it up. Set it up now, do the water test, cook your first recipe.
While at it, enjoy the fun that comes with using an instant pot.