Things Not to Do With Your Instant Pot
Don’t Use Too Much Oil
Adding oil to your dishes will carry your flavor, texture, and quality to the next level. The downside is that anytime you use too much, you fall into the same dilemma as using sauces to prepare the food instead of water: there is just not enough water to make sure that Pressure Cooker will do its job. Never use more than 1/4 cup of oil or fat content to make sure the Pot is able to come to pressure properly.
Don’t Skip the Yogurt Starter
Over the past 2 years, I’ve been making yogurt in my Instant Pot almost every week. And there have been a few occasions when I’ve failed to add the yogurt starter to the milk. Then the next morning, as I go searching for my yogurt, it’s still milk.
Don’t Overfill the Pot
Your Pressure Cooker liner will have a “Max Fill Axis” of around 2/3 to 3/4 of the way to the top of the Pot. Make sure you’re never filling any liquid above that level. The explanation for that? You need some room for the Pot to build up the pressure. If it’s filled up all the way to the rim, there’s no chance the Pot will build up steam and get under pressure because it’s too full.
Don’t Forget the Thickness
Thickness is a really critical determinant of how long you’re going to have to Pressure Cook. For example, if you have shredded vegetables, it would take a lot less time to cook than some bigger chopped veggies.
Don’t Get Burned By Steam
The Instant Pot is fitted with a lot of protection mechanisms. And basically, it’s very safe. The one thing I will warn you about is when you switch the valve from Sealing to Venting. There’s going to be a fast escape of steam. Shift your hand aside so you don’t get burnt. Many people I know prefer to use a spoon to switch the valve from Sealing to Venting.
Don’t forget to Turn the Pressure Valve to the Sealing Position
There’s one thing you need to remember before you start cooking your food: Make sure your pressure valve is in the right position. As soon as you reach the Pressure Cook mode, you need to adjust the valve to the Sealing position.
Most people accidentally put it in the Venting position, so if it’s not sealed, it’s not going to be pressurized properly. Essentially, you’ll lose all the time because your meal would not be cooked.
Don’t Use Too Much Liquid
Although not having enough liquid is a ‘Big No’ as it may cause your food to burn, but using too much liquid is also an issue. The food will be too watery but you certainly won’t get an error message—but the meal is likely to turn out to be completely tasteless, much worse than consuming burned food. So don’t put too much liquid.
Don’t Put Your Instant Pot on the Stove
Anything you do, keep your Instant Pot far away from any other hot surface, otherwise it will be damaged before you know it. You can’t place the Instant Pot on the heat source or on the burner because the bottom of the Pot melts. It’s only for countertop use, but often people neglect or places it on the stove, so someone who doesn’t know turns it on. Sadly, this mishap is potentially going to cost you a new Pot.
Don’t Use the Wrong Pressure Release Option
There are two choices for letting the Instant Pot unleash all of its pent-up pressure: the Natural Pressure Release (NPR) or the Quick Pressure Release (QPR). Although QPR is ideal for vegetables and seafood because it avoids quick-cooking food from overcooking, NPR is meant for liquid foods such as soup and slowly reduces pressure on its own to keep the kitchen clean and food healthy and of the highest standard.
Just make sure you have the right option, because going for the wrong choice could lead to liquid spitting all over the place and burning yourself if you’re not careful.
Don’t Forget To Do the Water Test
The water test—which basically helps you to get to know the Instant Pot and ensure that everything is working smoothly—may not seem necessary, but not doing could spoil a ton of potentially good food. It’s there to help you get familiar with your cooker. You press the buttons; you see what happens as you do Quick Release… it’s very necessary.
Don’t Add Thickeners Too Early
You would be tempted to add flour or cornstarch to your Instant Pot to thicken your soup or sauce. And you’ll be able to do it soon; just don’t add such thickeners at the beginning. Add the thickeners after the food has been cooked under pressure. When you add these Ingredients in the beginning, they may burn to the bottom of the Pot, so you will get a burn error message.
Don’t Forget to Put the Sealing Ring Back In
When you remove the silicone sealing ring from the Instant Pot and give it a good rinse, make sure to bring it back in: It’s essential to the cooking process; it can cause a mess if it’s left out. It’s easy to overlook, but if you don’t apply the silicone ring, the liquid is going to come out from the sides.
Don’t Forget to Turn Off the Warm Button
You like your food to be moist while you’re eating, don’t you? You do, of course. Only be careful of the Warm button on the Instant Bowl, since it’s pretty strong. Yeah, it’ll keep your food warm and toasty—but it’s also cooking throughout that period, and you could end up with overcooked food. Instead, leave the Pressure Cooker sealed in the heat until you’re ready to eat.
Don’t Use Sauce instead of Liquids
If there’s only one thing you need to remember, it’s that the liquid is the key when cooking with the Instant Pot. That’s what helps things work and making the food taste so good. That’s why adding in a sauce instead of liquid is a major No-No! I suggest that you only use liquid—water, broth, stock, something like that, not sauce!
And if you’re using sauce, you’ve got to dilute it. It’s very important, because if you’re using a thicker sauce, you’re going to get the Burn message. There’s not enough fluid in it and the unit’s going to think something’s wrong, so it can’t put up the pressure. Depending on the type of Instant Pot you’ve got, there’s usually a minimum requirement for around 1.5 to 2 cups of liquid.
Don’t Underestimate How Long It Takes To Prepare a Meal
Only because it’s called the Instant Pot doesn’t suggest its “Instant!” There are 3 time components to the recipe for Pressure Cooking.
- Building Pressure
- Pressure Cooking
- Pressure Release
The period the Instant Pot takes to build up the pressure can rely on a few different variables (how big the Pot is, or what the temperature of the food is, etc.) I generally allow myself 10 minutes to pressurize the Pot.
Pressure Cooking period for a meal is a simple aspect of the recipe… because you know just how long that step is going to take.
The third phase is the time to relieve the pressure. Watch some videos if you’re unfamiliar with Quick Release and gradual release of pressure.
Add all three components together to determine how long a recipe is going to take to prepare. But you do realize that until the food is in the Pot, you have freedom! Get chores finished, emails checked, dishes cleaned, and all the while your food is cooking.
Do Not Use the Timer Button to Pressure Cook
The Timer button (on certain models called Delay Start) is for a delayed start to your cooking. It may be confusing to certain people, as they believe that “Timer” implies the period they want to cook their meal. If you want to use a delayed start, first set the Pressure Cook time with the Manual/Pressure Cook button and then click the Timer button/Delay Start button and select how many hours of delay you want.
Don’t Sauté the Onions until the Pot Says HOT
A number of people claim that food sticks to their stainless steel Pot while they use the Sauté mode. Switch the Pot to the Sauté mode and wait for the monitor to read HOT. When it says it’s hot, you can add in your cool oil and Sauté the onions or brown the roast. The food is not going to stick!
Don’t Keep the Instant Pot in the Box
Take it out and use it. If you’re nervous and you’re still unsure of how to use it watch some YouTube videos on “How to Use an Instant Pot.”
Don’t Get Confused About the Timer Button and the Cook Time
Having listened to the alarm go off and realizing that you haven’t actually cooked anything for the whole time is extremely annoying. If using the Instant Pot, make sure that you use the Manual option and not unintentionally just set the Timer so that you really have a steaming hot plate of food when you want it. It’s a beginner mistake, but it’s also a common mistake nonetheless.
Don’t Forget To Put the Inner Pot Back in the Cooker Base
The Instant Pot comes with two key parts: the base and the Inner Pot made of steel. So if you forget about the latter, you’re going to have a problem. You always need to keep the Inner Pot in the cooker base. If you don’t put it back and add in the liquid, the water could spill out—then you’ll have to be sure the cooker is dry and redo the water test. So don’t forget to put the Inner Pot back in.
Don’t Clog Your Steam Release Pipe
You won’t have to worry about certain foods, although if you make certain things—like apple sauce, oatmeal, and noodles—you may encounter foaming, frothing, or splattering by clogging the steam release pipe or valve if you fill your Instant Pot too high. Luckily, there’s an easy fix: To prevent a mess from going down in your kitchen, just make sure the Inner Pot isn’t stacked higher than the 1/2 line.
Don’t Forget to Deglaze the Inner Pot after Sautéing
One of the best features of the Instant Pot is the Sauté feature, where you can pre-cook any Ingredients before Pressure Cooking. The main problem here? If you don’t deglaze between—aka squeezing the brown bits off the bottom—your meal isn’t going to go very far.
I also suggest that you first Sauté all in the Inner Pot. Once you’ve finished the Sautéing, you need to deglaze the bottom before you switch over to the Pressure Cooker and ensure that any pieces of food that may have been trapped there are no longer stuck. If you don’t deglaze the bottom of the Inner Pot, you’ll get the ‘Burn’ warning.