What is an instant pot and can you bake in one?
If you are not yet familiar with the term, you might be wondering what an instant pot is and what all the fuss is all about.
An instant pot is a versatile multi-cooker that can serve as a slow cooker or a pressure cooker. It can also sauté and steam, and can be used for baking or yogurt making. What an instant pot primarily does is to cook your food at the most suitable temperature and pressure, giving you the best result and removing all the guesswork.
The instant pot is the go-to cooking essential when you need a quickly prepared dish or are short on cooking time. It also comes in handy if you generally need a pot that can cook a variety of dishes all in one depending on your preference. Yes! From veggies to meat sautéing, down to cooking a whole chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and even baking, this piece of magical kitchen appliance does it all.
What can you bake in an instant pot?
With the innovative nature of the instant pot, there seem to be no limits to what you can achieve with cooking, and baking isn’t left out either. You will be surprised at the wide variety of delicacies you can churn out with this one-stop-shop for cooking convenience. From over two hundred types of cakes to baked beans, potatoes, brownies, and oatmeal, your instant pot can genuinely become your multi-purpose makeshift oven. Bread is not left out, and the exciting news is that all instant pot bakes turn out fine and arguably as delicious as your traditional oven bakes.
There have even been testimonies of instant pot cheesecakes being less dense than the traditional oven variety, added to the reduced cooking time (30 minutes against nearly an hour in the oven). Baking is one use of the instant pot that you should really explore.
Safety measures while baking with the instant pot
It is worthwhile to note some general safety measures while using the instant pot. These measures should be adhered to, to ensure safety and prolong the lifespan of your multi-purpose kitchen accessory. They are as follows:
- Do not leave your house or forget the instant pot when it is in use and going up in pressure. Most people risk forgetting that the instant pot is in use. They get distracted or carried away because the instant pot is an electronic device with timers and all, and no steam comes out from anywhere to indicate usage. However, you should monitor your instant pot at all times whenever it is in use.
- Do not pressure-fry with your instant pot or any other pressure cooker for that matter.
- Remember that the instant pot mostly needs at least 1 cup of liquid to get to and maintain pressure. This myth is, however, debatable and will depend on your instant pot model. Also, avoid using hard alcohol as much as possible.
- Do not overfill your instant pot else it will boil over and leave you at the danger of having it blow over. Do not fill the instant pot more than halfway with beans, grains, one-pot pasta, oat, cornmeal or any other expandables, as these might spill over. Note that pressure cooking level for typical food is maximum 2/3 full, while for expandable foods like grains and beans is maximum ½ full.
- Under no circumstances should you try to force open the pressure cooker lid of the instant pot.
- Always wash the lid and clean the anti-block shield and inner pot of the instant pot after every use.
- Ensure that the silicone sealing ring (gasket) is always in good shape and check for any food residue in the anti-block shield before every use.
- Thickening agents like flour, cornstarch, and condensed soups should not be added before pressure cooking.
- Ensure that the inner lining of the pot is always present to avoid pouring anything directly on the base of the instant pot.
- Adhere to the regulatory warnings of the instant pot when in use (burn warning, etc.)
- Do not place your instant pot on the stovetop or oven to avoid melting, especially if the stovetop is still hot.
- Note other safety mechanisms, as stated in the instant pot manual.
- Most importantly, if you notice anybody misusing the instant pot, do not hesitate to say something.
Converting recipes from regular pot to the instant pot
The instant pot comes with much excitement on its uniqueness in preparation of meals. However, there are usually some lingering confusion and concerns about how to measure the ingredients or convert your usual pot recipe into the instant pot recipe. This is because the instant pot cooks at different temperatures and pressure, and the steam does not escape while cooking. This, therefore, means that the measurement for the ingredients you use when cooking or baking with the normal pot and stove might not necessarily give the same results in an instant pot. You should, therefore, take specific measures to adapt your recipe to the new environment of the instant pot.
Make sure that your recipe works for the instant pot:
This is usually the first problem that most people encounter when using the instant pot. While the instant pot is ideal for most recipes, it is not suitable for every recipe. As earlier pointed out, the possibilities are seemingly endless with an instant pot. There are enough recipes contained herein to keep your fridge stocked with yummy bakes and dishes of different varieties.
Endeavor to Add Liquid as Needed:
If you are not strictly following the instructions on the recipes, endeavor to stick to the minimum fluid requirements for the instant pot. This is to ensure proper pressurization and get the best results when making some tweaks of your own. There is no harm in experimentation, and there is that unique taste that we all crave occasionally, but always stick to the basics.
Note, however, that you don’t have to drown your recipe in water to achieve the instant pressure cooking. You only need to alter the liquid content of your regular pot recipe, depending on how long you are cooking.
For pressure cooking, cut the liquid by at least half or even three-quarters, while for slow cooking, decrease the liquid by a third.
Altering the Cooking Time:
This is one of the most lauded advantages of the instant pot. It has to be considered when converting your recipe for the instant pot. That meal that usually takes one hour to prepare ordinarily might be ready within 30 minutes when prepared using an instant pot. You do not expect to alter the liquid content of your recipe for the instant pot and not reduce the cooking time. If this is not done, you might see the “burn” warning on the instant pot more often than not.
However, there is no hard and fast rule in altering the cooking time for most of your recipes. Pay more attention to the cooking time for the individual ingredients in your recipe, as indicated by your instant pot manual. You will find out that you might not necessarily need to “add all ingredients” at the same time as is common with most traditional recipes. This is because some ingredients might take longer to cook than others, depending on the mode of your instant pot. If added at the same time, therefore, some ingredients might end up undercooked.
Generally, for pressure cooking, plan for about a third of the average cooking time, while for slow cooking, double or quadruple the standard cooking time.
Measuring the Ingredients:
As a general tip, hold off on dairy ingredients when using the instant pot as much as you can. This is because dairy ingredients cook a lot different in the instant pot than on the stove, slow cooker, or the oven. If, however, the recipe calls for dairy ingredients, then ensure that you add them after you have cooked and depressurized your instant pot. The high pressure and heat of the instant pot can cause dairy products to scorch, leading to a ruined meal.
When converting recipes for the instant pot, be mindful of the size of your pot and endeavor not to get it too filled up. If you are cooking anything that expands (pasta, rice, and even dough during baking), try to scale the recipe back to accommodate for the expansion inside the instant pot. Here, ensure that your instant pot is not more than half-full during baking.
Quick tips on the effective use of instant pots
- Check your valve regularly before cooking to make sure that the pressure release is in the “sealing” position. If in slow cooking mode, set the valve to the “venting” position.
- Ignore the initial steam release when the instant pot first begins to pressurize. It is normal and should stop once the lid has wholly sealed.
- Get an extra stainless inner pot if you intend to use your instant pot regularly. This will come in handy when you want to cook multiple dishes in succession.
- Try getting a pan that will actually fit in the instant pot and keep it out of water.
- You can use a trivet to create a makeshift oven in the instant pot by adding the trivet to the bottom of the instant pot, where it acts as an oven rack.
- Remember to line the inside of your baking pan with foil or parchment paper to prevent the barter from sticking inside the instant pot.
Benefits of baking with the instant pot
Besides the reduced baking time (depending on the mode of cooking) and other afore-mentioned benefits of using the instant pot, other advantages include:
– It helps to keep your kitchen clean.
– Saves not only time but energy also.
– It is very easy to clean up, and the pot is dishwasher-safe.
– There is no need to defrost food items before cooking or baking.
– It helps in the retention of essential vitamins and nutrients as they may not escape as steam.
– Preserves food appearance and taste, giving you the perfect results for your recipe.
– It eliminates harmful micro-organisms.
– It comes with a lot of automatic and regulatory mechanisms that always warn you when your meal is not cooking best.
– With the instant pot, there is literally no sweat, no smell, no steam, and no noise.
– Very convenient and arguably affordable.