Instant Pot is a cooking device that is very similar to a pressure cooker and can cook almost anything. It usually achieves this in a shorter time compared to most cooking appliances.
There are various models of Instant Pot available today. Their features differ from one model to the next and it also depends on the company responsible for manufacturing it.
Usually Instant Pots have the following features: Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Warmer and Saute. Some models even come with a Yoghurt Maker, Egg Maker, Cake Maker and Sous Vide Machine.
This appliance is equipped with a timer and settings like cooking, temperature, pressure etc. You can change the settings and cook on high, medium and low heat.
Based on the model and the dimensions of your Instant Pot, you can easily put in different types of dishes directly into the Pot like spring form pans, cupcake moulds, etc.
Benefits of Instant Pot
The Instant Pot provides several benefits like saving time and energy. This is due to the inner pot being fully insulated; hence, less energy is needed to heat up.
The usage of less liquid means that the food in the Instant Pot will boil at a faster rate which saves plenty of time. When compared to other cooking appliances, it has been found that the Instant Pot lessens energy use and cooking time up to almost 60%.
Instant Pot assists in the conservation of Vitamins and Nutrients. Vitamins and Nutrients which are soluble in water are drained out of foods during normal cooking methods such as steaming or boiling. However in an Instant Pot, the food is cooked quickly and evenly which makes it more nutritious and healthy.
Additionally, when food is cooked on open containers with or without a lid, the food is open to heat and oxygen which may cause it to have a dull colour and lower flavour.
Meanwhile when steam saturates food in the Instant Pot, it retains the bright colour and so the food looks much better. Instant Pot has an airtight design which makes flavours develop faster resulting in better quality food. Moreover, the use of oil in Instant Pot is less which results in healthier food.
It kills microorganisms which are harmful for our body. Instant Pot pressure cookers are very efficient in destroying bacteria since it cooks in a condition where the water boils at a temperature which is greater than 100 degree Celsius or 212 degree Fahrenheit. At such temperatures, bacteria and other harmful microorganisms die.
Therefore, Instant Pot can be used to purify water and may act as sterilization equipment. Toxins that occur naturally are harmful and can be removed from food by using Instant pot. It helps to bring down the concentrations of Phytohaemagglutinin and aflatoxins in food to a secure level.
Safety of Instant Pot
One of the main concerns when buying an electric cooking appliance is the safety of the device. Instant Pot has plenty of safety features built in it which makes it one of the safest cooking appliances out there for use. Firstly, there are a set of sensors which monitor the temperature and pressure at which the Instant Pot pressure cooker is operating.
They make sure that the Instant Pot is functioning within its safety limits and they regulate the temperature and internal pressure. Another important function of the sensors is that they detect if you have locked the lid or not. In addition to that, if the lid is not placed properly then the Instant Pot will not start building pressure.
Once the interior of the Pot becomes pressurized, the lid locks in place automatically. Furthermore, the insulation in the interior and exterior regions makes it safer. The device will not heat up and chances of injuries are few and far in between. All in all, the Instant Pot pressure cooker has all bases covered when it comes to safety of the user.
Instant Pot Cooking Mechanism
An Instant Pot creates and traps steam in a closed pot from the liquid added in it, which results in pressure to build up inside the inner pot. With the increase in pressure, the boiling point of water also escalates from 212°F to 253°F. This boosts the cooking process. Hence, the food cooks way faster in the Instant Pot than it would in an open pan.
While cooking is going on, the built-in sensors monitor and automatically regulate the pot’s pressure and temperature. When the food is cooked, the pressure inside the pot is still high. The food still cooks till the heat decreases and the pressure drops.
Instant Pot Cooking Cycle
- Add food and water to the pot
- Pressure Cook
- Food is prepared
- Release pressure
Releasing Pressure (Quick Release vs Natural Release)
In an instant pot pressure can be released by two methods either the Quick Pressure Release or the Natural Pressure Release.
1. Quick Pressure Release
It is the means by which an Instant Pot is made to stop quickly in order to prevent overcooking of food. This method is used when delicate and soft dishes such as broccoli, corn, bok choy, salmon, lobster etc. are cooked in an Instant Pot.
2. Natural Pressure Release
Natural Release known lets the pressure inside the pot to come down by itself. It keeps the kitchen clean and tidy since it allows the Instant Pot to gradually release the pressure while cooking.
This results in less movement of food inside the pot and helps to keep the food intact. This process is ideal for cooking dishes with large quantity or liquids or those that are high in starch like porridge, soup, congee etc.
Instant Pot Natural Release
What is a Natural Release?
A natural pressure release is when the pressure release switch is kept in the sealed position when the cooking has finished. When the natural pressure release starts, there’s no jet of steam or loud sound.
Hence, this allows the pressure to be released slowly all by itself. Absolutely, nothing needs to be done. Food will continue to cook inside the pot as the pressure decreases. After all the pressure is released, the float valve drops, the lid unlocks and opens.
How to do an Instant Pot Natural Release?
Once the cooking is done, wait for the Floating Valve (metal pin) to drop down completely before taking off the lid.
Always rotate the Venting Knob from the Sealing Position to the Venting Position to release all the pressure before opening the lid.
The process of releasing the pressure roughly takes about 10 – 25 minutes depending on the quantity of food present in the Instant Pot.
How to do a 10 – 15 Minutes Instant Pot Natural Pressure Release?
After the cooking is over, wait for about 10 – 15 minutes before turning the Venting Knob from Sealing Position to Venting Position to release all the remaining pressure. Make sure that the Floating Valve (metal pin) completely drops before opening the lid.
How to Know When the Pressure is Down inside the Instant Pot?
Every model of Instant Pot comprises of a float valve. This valve rises and falls while cooking to release pressure inside the pot. The position of the valve indicates the pressure level inside the Instant Pot. If the float valve is standing higher than the normal level, then the pot is still under pressure. On the other hand, is the valve is low or in its normal state, this means the pressure inside the pot has been released and it’s no longer sealed.
How to Know Whether It Is Safe to Open the Instant Pot?
Instant Pot is locked when the pressure inside the pot is high. Therefore, it can’t be opened in that state. This makes this pressure cooker extremely safe. If you are a newbie and scared of opening the pot rest assured. The lid will only open once the pressure is down.
What is Natural Release Time of the Instant Pot?
The natural release time depends on the size of the pot and also on what is cooked inside it.
Larger Instant Pots build up high pressure than their smaller counterparts and will take more time to release pressure. The natural release takes more time for liquid-based food like soup compared to other non-liquid varieties.
Instant Pots are widely used to prepare better and healthy food. They help to retain the nutritional level of food. Instant Pot not only reduces the cooking time but also enhances the texture and consistency of the food.
These appliances protect us from dangerous bacteria and toxins, and are often used to sterilize equipment. Knowing how to use an Instant Pot is quite important.
Thus, if you were scared to approach the appliance all along, now you know how to use it properly and efficiently.