So you got an Instant Pot for Christmas

Congratulations! You’re the new owner of a gorgeous, gleaming, rather intimidating Instant Pot.

It can be a little overwhelming at first. Not to worry! There’s an entire community of seasoned Instant Potheads who are ready and willing to guide you through your first few recipes.

A few of the most commonly asked questions are easy to answer. For instance:

Q. Why is there steam coming out?
A. Because you left the steam valve open.

Q. Why does my machine say “BURN?”
A. Because it is burning.

Q. All the recipes say to press the “pressure level” button, but I can’t find it anywhere on my machine!
A. This is because your otherwise intelligent husband has bought you a slow cooker for Christmas.

So those are the basics. Here are a few more advanced issues you might find yourself tussling with as you become more familiar with your new device:

Q. I’ve just made a savory dish with lots of onion, garlic, and cumin, and I want to make rice custard next. Will the silicone ring pick up the smells and transfer them to other foods?

A. If you have an IP Chachacha-9000, no, it will not. Your IPC9K is equipped with Olfactogard™ technology, which negates smell molecules by harnessing the power of snozz. You should be able to move seamlessly from meat to custard and back again, just like when you were young.

If you’re concerned, though, simply remove the original ring and stuff a sock up in there (black is best, but you know your tastes) and proceed as normal.

Q. Where is the best place to store my Instant Pot?

A. You can store it anywhere. Some folks may worry that leaving an Instant Pot on the stovetop is inviting disaster, and that one careless knock of the stove dial may melt your expensive new appliance into oblivion before you even realize what’s happening, but this is largely an urban legend. You’re different, and this will never, ever happen to you.

Q. I know the Instant Pot works by building up pressure under a tight seal, but it’s so hard to let my food cook without checking on it. Can’t I just take a little peek?

A Oh, you scamp! Of course you can.  Just make it quick and no one will know the difference. Make sure you put your face nice and close so you don’t miss anything.


Q. My Instant Pot is dented, but it appears to be only on the outside. Is it still safe?

A. Maybe, or maybe not. The exterior housing is largely to for structural, hygienic, and aesthetic purposes, but there may be interior damage that’s not obvious at first.

Test it for soundness by situating your IP with the dent facing away from you. Tap it lightly with a wooden spoon, listen for an echo, tap again, give it a gentle shake, then casually knock it onto the floor as if by accident, and then suddenly let loose, jumping on it a few times while sobbing, “You bastard! You bastard! I never shoulda trusted you, but I’m just too soft, that’s what’s wrong with me!” Then throw it out the window, pick your way over the broken glass, get in your van, and run over it a few times while the mailman watches with his mouth hanging open. Open the cover and whisper into your Instant Pot, “I’m just too soft, that’s all,” and shake your head while your nose runs into your apron pocket.

Pick up your Instant Pot and carefully examine the condensation collector at the base. If it appears to be misaligned, your IP is probably not safe to use.

Q. Can I do canning in my Instant Pot?

A. Yes, sure, because everyone wants canned food.

Because I’m not entirely heartless, here is a layman’s guide by Lisa Love with some actual good advice for newbies. Good luck, you crazy kids.

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2 thoughts on “So you got an Instant Pot for Christmas”

  1. My eldest daughter while visiting for Christmas told me I should get an IP (Why she didn’t get me one for Christmas, I don’t know). I told her I was a bit afraid of cooking anything under pressure, having used a pressure canner in my homesteading phase. This column has made me even more cautious. I cling tightly to my thrift store slow cooker.

    1. You and me both. I told my oldest son how you can steam hardboiled eggs in minutes in the IP and he looked alarmed and said, “like when you tried to boil egg yolks in the microwave and they exploded in your face?” He was three. And he remembers. So I guess I’ll just keep on with my non-instant cooking.

      But Simcha, this was a funny, funny read, even if I am hopped up on prednisone and M&Ms and coffee right now!

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