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What’s an Instant Pot? 12 Things to Know!

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What’s an Instant Pot, you say? Or maybe you’re wondering why you should even consider purchasing an Instant Pot? Do you have an Instant Pot or an electric pressure cooker? Do you have an Instant Pot on your wish list? Well, if you’ve been wondering what all the hype is about, I’m here to, hopefully, answer your questions, like “What’s an Instant Pot anyway and why would I want one?”

If you have questions like that or are curious as to whether an Instant Pot is right for you, you’re in the right place today! Because I’m absolutely loving my new Instant Pot and I’m really looking forward to learning more about it. So, I thought I’d share my Instant Pot journey with you. Of course, I’m always open to tips and feedback from you as well!

I’ve had my eye on the Instant Pot and electric pressure cookers in general for a few years now. I guess I was afraid that it would be just another kitchen appliance or gadget that would find its way to my storage pantry and collect dust. Kind of like our bread maker, only I’ve dusted off my bread machine and I’m loving getting to know it all over again. You can read more about my bread machine here.

I remember my mom having a stove top pressure cooker when I was a little girl. I can still hear the sound of the steam and the “jiggler” on the top of the cooker. Well, the Instant Pot is definitely not your mother or grandmother’s pressure cooker! That’s for sure!
What's an Instant Pot? The Instant Pot is a 7 in 1 multi-cooker: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer. The Birch Cottage shares 12 things you should know before purchasing.

What is an Instant Pot?

Before I get ahead of myself, we should probably take time to explain exactly what is an Instant Pot anyway. The Instant Pot is a multi-cooker that does the job of a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan, and warming pot. It’s a single appliance that does the job of seven different kitchen appliances or tools. Seven! Talk about de-cluttering and convenience!

This post contains affiliate links to products I really think will be helpful to you in using your Instant Pot. You can read my full disclosure here

But, can one appliance really do seven things well? Glad you asked! Take this into consideration: As of the writing of this post, the 6 Quart Instant Pot DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker has been reviewed over 14,480 times on Amazon with a rating of 4-1/2 stars!

What's an Instant Pot? The Instant Pot is a 7 in 1 multi-cooker: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer. The Birch Cottage shares 12 things you should know before purchasing.

12 Things to Know About the Instant Pot

  1. It can be a little intimidating. It’s a totally different way of thinking about food preparation. Plus, it’s got a ton of buttons and, did I mention, it’s so much more than a pressure cooker? All that functionality can make it a little intimidating.
  2. It is easy to use despite the fact th at it can appear a little intimidating. There are a ton of recipes for using the Instant Pot and regular pressure cooker recipes can easily be converted for use with the Instant Pot (usually by simply adding a couple more minutes to the cooking time).
  3. Is easy to clean. One of the things I’ve read from other users (and from my personal experience) is just how amazed people are at how easy the pressure cooker is to clean. Here’s a great tutorial on deep cleaning the Instant Pot. Although it’s easy to clean, it’s really important to keep it clean.
  4. Recipes can be deceiving. It’s no lie, that in most (if not all) cases, the Instant Pot can cook foods faster. Where the “deception” comes in is when claims cooking time. Well, what they don’t tell you is that it doesn’t take into consideration the time it takes for the pressure cooker to build up steam and to release steam.
    For example, did you know can cook a boiled egg in 5 minutes in the Instant Pot? Well, plus 5 minutes for the pressure to build up and another 5 minutes for the pressure to be released. They call this method of boiling an egg the 5-5-5 method.  So, it really did take 5 minutes to cook the egg, but you have to also allow time for the pot to build up pressure and time for the pressure to be released.
  5. There are two methods for releasing pressure: Quick Release (QR) and Natural Pressure Release (NPR). 
    • QR – The Quick Release is a faster means to releasing the pressure. You are manually releasing pressure by your turning the vent valve located on the top of the lid.  You’ll usually use QR for vegetables, non-foaming foods or for when adding additional ingredients. (Do not use the QR if your pot is full of food. Trust me. Bad idea!)
    • NPR – The Natural Pressure Release is how you naturally let the pot release pressure. You’ll usually use NPR for meats, foaming starchy foods or when you have a full pot of food.
  6. There’s an inner pot. I’m not familiar with all brands of pressure cooks, but Instant Pot may be the only brand that actually comes with a stainless steel inner pot. It’s a pretty substantial inner pot. In fact, you may find yourself using the Instant Pot so much that you’ll want two inner pots!
  7. You can put a pot in the Pot (PIP). This cooking method is usually used for foods that you don’t add water to, such as meatloaf, cake or cheesecake.  With the PIP method, you’ll add your water to the Inner Pot, place the trivet that came with your Instant Pot in the bottom and place your heat proof dish or stainless steel pot in the Instant Pot.
  8. The Instant Pot requires 1/2-1 cup of water.  Different recipes have different requirements for the amount of water needed to bring the pressure cooker to the appropriate pressure, but most recipes need a minimum of 1/2 cup of water. Most recipes call for 1 cup of water.
  9. The lid rests in the handle. What?! Yep! The lid rests in the handle. I totally didn’t know this until I happened to watch a video where this guy was placing his lid in the handle. Genius! Pure genius!!
  10. The saute function heats up fast. One of the seven functions of the Instant Pot is the ability to saute. You might think such a small surface and with so many other functions that it might take a while for the saute function to heat up. It doesn’t. It’s quick! So be sure to keep an eye on it or you’ll have scorched whatever.
  11. You cannot can in the Instant Pot. The Instant Pot is not a canner nor is it approved by the FDA as such. You can can via a water bath method, but you cannot use the pressure cooker as a method for canning.
  12. The seven functions of the Instant Pot: slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan, and warming pot

If you’d like more information on the Instant Pot, you can access the Instant Pot IP-DUO series product brochure here.

What's an Instant Pot? The Instant Pot is a 7 in 1 multi-cooker: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer. The Birch Cottage shares 12 things you should know before purchasing.

Pictured above is the inner pot, plus the accessories that came with my Instant Pot.  I’ve already used the wire trivet quite a bit!

Recommended accessories for the Instant Pot

Instant Pot Accessories

Here are a few accessories that I recommend and just might come in handy with your Instant Pot.

  • Instant Pot Silicone Sealing Ring – Rings and seals go bad with usage and it’s always a great idea to have a spare (or two) on hand!
  • Instant Pot Tempered Glass Lid – The Glass Lid fits perfectly on the Instant Pot for those times when you want to use your Instant Pot as a slow cooker or to prevent splattering when you’re searing.
  • Instant Pot Inner Pot – Having a second pot is a great idea for a couple of reasons. One, it lets you prepare multiple dishes in the pot without having to washing the other pot first. Second, it allows you to refrigerate the first pot.
  • Steamer Basket – Having a steamer basket is especially handy for vegetables. You simply place your vegetables in the basket and then when they’re cooked, you remove the entire basket. Makes steaming or cooking vegetables so much easier!
  • Silicone Cover – This cover or lid fits perfectly on top of the Instant Pot inner pot. It’s great for storing and reheating leftovers, keeping food fresh, maintaining food temperature and retaining steam while cooking.
  • Silicone Mits – The perfect mits for protecting your fingers from heat while removing the inner pot, tray or steamer basket!
  • Springform Pan – If you’re going to bake cakes, prepare meatloaf, casseroles, etc. in your Instant Pot, this is a great way to do just that and it fits perfectly inside the Instant Pot.

I’m sure I’ll be sharing more information, plus recipe ideas on the Instant Pot. Today, I even made some stuffed peppers in my pot. They turned out fantastic!

What's an Instant Pot? The Instant Pot is a 7 in 1 multi-cooker: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer. The Birch Cottage shares 12 things you should know before purchasing.

If you have tips and/or favorite recipes you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them! Just leave a comment below or feel free to email me at pam at thebirchcottage.com.

Til next time…

Pam from The Birch Cottage

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