Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

How to Use Your New Instant Pot — It’s Safe and Simple

About 25 years ago, there was a pressure cooker renaissance in America. Our grandmothers knew the day would come that we would return to their favorite kitchen tool to make fast braises, stews, soups and casseroles. They just didn’t know how we’d get there.

If you, like me, are a Nervous Nellie who grew up hearing stories about a great aunt who shellacked her ceiling with country stew when the thing nearly blew her to Oz and back, relax. I’ve powered through the fear and discovered modern pressure cookers have amazing safety features to put all fear to rest. Now it’s time for you to start exploring as well, especially if you’re busy, hate spending hours in the kitchen and hate even more having to go out and spend a fortune on a marginally edible restaurant meal.

Perhaps you bought an Instant Pot on a whim and now it has sat on the countertop for months and, truth be told, you don’t have a clue what to do with it.

It’s possible you have used an Instant Pot, tried it once and it turned out to be a complete disaster. The pot roast turned out dry and tough as shoe leather. The pasta came out a frothy, sloppy mess. Disappointment, thy name is Instant Pot.

Whatever your situation — even if you’ve never heard of a pressure cooker, let alone how or why you need to — today’s the day. It’s time to put away all preconceived notions, rumors and failures and start over on the right foot.

It’s different. Pressure cooking is a completely different kind of cooking. You can’t just throw stuff in willy-nilly and expect perfection five minutes later. There are rules, which when followed pay off in spades. But you have to know them, learn them and follow them. It’s not hard, but it is completely different than what you might be used to.

Join a group. One of the most helpful things I did the day I got my Instant Pot was to join Instant Pot Community, a Facebook group. It’s free and so helpful. With nearly three-quarters of a million Instant Pot fans and fanatics in the group, this is the place to learn anything and everything there is to know about how to use your Instant Pot successfully.

Get a cookbook. You need specific recipes for pressure cooking, at least in the beginning. It’s not the same as slow cooking or traditional stovetop cooking, trust me on that!

I have reviewed so many cookbooks written specifically for Instant Pot and related types of pressure cookers and all of them have something to add. But the best and most complete — the one I refer to constantly and laugh a lot because there is a photo with every step of every recipe — is “The Step-By-Step Instant Pot Cookbook” by Jeffrey Eisner.

Not only is this cookbook the best tutorial on the art of pressure cooking but it has 100 recipes for everything you can imagine, from breakfast to dessert. Each recipe is specific for Instant Pot. I have not had a bad experience yet using recipes from this book. Did I say it’s a big book? Yep, more than 250 pages and worth its weight in gold.

I suggest that you follow recipes for a while until you begin to understand the specifics of pressure cooking and how to experience success every time. Soon you’ll be able to adapt your own recipes, but for now, lean on recipes specifically created for pressure cooking.

Bookmark a website. If you Google Instant Pot or pressure cooking websites, you’ll be overwhelmed in no time flat. Let me help. There is one site that is all-around helpful, which I suggest you bookmark: HipPressureCooking.com. This is not my primary go-to for recipes, but when I have a question on how stuff works or what to do, Hip Pressure Cooking is great.

Boil water. You’re going to learn quickly that your first experience with Instant Pot should be to boil water. Do it. See how this thing works.

Cook eggs. One of the most remarkable things I do with Instant Pot is boil eggs. Seriously. From soft-boiled to full-on hard-boiled, they come out perfect every time, provided I follow the rules.

Resources. You will find the resources for everything in the column including how to boil water and cook eggs at EverydayCheapskate.com/quickstart-ip.

So, there you go — a quick-start guide to becoming acquainted with your Instant Pot. Take the plunge, get started and take it easy. You’ll be pressure cooking like a rock star in no time at all!

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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