Cleaning Your Instant Pot

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Other than cleaning the inner pot, it’s hard to know what else you need to be doing to keep your Instant Pot squeaky clean and working properly. For an exhaustive tutorial, read over this article from The Kitchn. Here are my quick tips:

Every time you use your IP:

  • Clean the inner pot in the sink or dishwasher. If the pot becomes cloudy, use vinegar to clean. Don’t use steel wool.
  • Use a small brush or thin, damp sponge to clean the crevice at the top of the unit. It often ends up with little spills or bits of dried food.
  • Wipe the inside of the lid with a damp cloth.
  • Wipe the outside of the unit as needed with a damp cloth.

Every few times you use your IP:

  • Remove the silicone ring and wash in the sink or dishwasher. If it is smelly, soak it in vinegar before cleaning again.
  • Remove the plastic piece snapped on the back that catches condensation and over-fill and clean.

Everyone once and a while:

  • Remove the gadgets in the lid and clean. See steps 6-8 for details.
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Cleaning Your Instant Pot

Instant Pot Quinoa

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Quinoa is a relatively quick-cooking grain, but the Instant Pot makes it even faster. It’s also a very hands-off, heat friendly method—I don’t turn on my stove or oven unless I have to in the hot, hot summer. The IP makes quick and easy work of healthy quinoa without heating up my kitchen. Score.

Instant Pot Quinoa

1 cup rinsed and drained quinoa (any color)
1 1/2 cups water or broth
1 teaspoon oil
1 big pinch salt

Combine all ingredients into the Instant Pot and shake the inner pot to level the quinoa and make sure it is all submerged. Secure the lid and cook at high pressure for 1 minute. Use a natural release and fluff with a fork.

Instant Pot Quinoa

Pressure Cooking Black Rice

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Black rice (also known as forbidden rice) has come into vogue lately, and for good reason. It has a nice nutty flavor, a toothsome but tender texture, and it’s packed with nutrients. It also looks very, very cool.

Luckily, it’s also very easy to make in a pressure cooker (such as an Instant Pot). I have a recipe for Forbidden Rice With Grapefruit and Jalapeno in my new book (out May 1), but until then, here’s the basics of how to cook black rice:

Pressure Cooker Black (Forbidden) Rice
makes about 3 cups

1 cup black rice, rinsed and drained
1 1/4 cup water or broth
1 teaspoon oil
1 pinch salt

For electric pressure cookers: Cook at high pressure for 23 minutes. Use a 10-minute natural release followed by a quick release.

For stovetop pressure cookers: Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes. Use a 10-minute natural release followed by a quick release.

Pressure Cooking Black Rice

Pressure Cooking Eggs

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I always make boiled eggs in the pressure cooker. It takes no time at all, they always turn out perfectly, and they peel easier than the traditional method. Here’s the basic method for pressure cooking eggs:*

  • Fill your pressure cooker with a little over a cup of water. Add the trivet or, even better, a steamer basket.
  • Add the eggs. You can add as many as you like, as long as they are stable (won’t fall over and break while cooking) and are not touching the sides of the pot.
  • Secure the lid and cook at LOW pressure. 4 minutes for soft boiled, 8 minutes for hard boiled.
  • Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath.
  • Once the cook time is up, manually release the pressure and place the eggs in the ice water.
  • Once cool to the touch, store in the fridge or peel and eat.

*Cook times are for electric pressure cookers.

Pressure Cooking Eggs

Update: Making Yogurt in the Instant Pot

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I’ve been making yogurt in my Instant Pot on the reg for years now. And while the method I wrote about a couple of years ago still works, I don’t tend to use it anymore. You see, I had a cheap jar break in the midst of making yogurt, and all it takes is your kitchen covered in hot milk and glass shards to make you rethink your methods.

Keep in mind that it was a cheap jar. I reused an apple sauce jar, and chances are it already had a small crack. If you use thick canning jars, you should be out of danger.

But! If you’d rather make your yogurt directly in the pot, here’s the basic method I use. It’s more convenient if you plan to strain your yogurt, Greek-style.

  1. Add milk to the pot. I don’t recommend making more than a gallon at a time, but any amount between 2 cups and a gallon is fine. Whole milk makes the creamiest yogurt, followed by 2% and then skim.
  2. Secure the lid and select Yogurt. Press the Adjust button until the display says “boil.”
  3. The Instant Pot is bringing the milk up to 180 degrees. You can safely open the lid during this process, and I like to whisk the milk every 5-10 minutes to keep it from scalding on the bottom of the pot.
  4. Once the program is finished and the display says “Yogt,” remove the lid and stir. Use a candy thermometer or instant thermometer to make sure that the milk has reached at least 180 degrees. If not, turn on the Saute function on low and stir until the milk comes to temperature.
  5. Remove the inner pot so that it cools faster. Let the milk cool until it reaches 105-110 degrees. To speed up the process, set the pot in a pan of cold water, stirring occasionally.
  6. Once cooled to 105-110 degrees, prepare the starter. Add 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt with active cultures per 1/2 gallon of milk to a small mixing bowl. Add about a cup of the warm milk and whisk. Add the mixture to the pot and stir. Return the pot to the cooker, drying off the outside if needed.
  7. Secure the lid and select Yogurt. The display should says “8:00.” Leave the milk to incubate for 8 hours.
  8. Once the program is complete, remove the pot and place it in the fridge for several hours until completely chilled. If you’d like Greek yogurt, you can now strain it in the fridge for 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how thick you like your yogurt.
  9. Store the yogurt in containers in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Update: Making Yogurt in the Instant Pot

Pressure Cooking Wheat Berries

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I’ve recently added wheat berries to my diet! Pretty exciting stuff. You can find them relatively easily in Whole Foods or another health market, and even though you can easily spend $200 in a health food store, wheat berries are pretty affordable. Here’s some stuff to know if you want to add them to your life:

Hard wheat berries, also labeled hard red wheat, are the most nutritious. They are chewier than the soft variety, but not too chewy (if you ask me). They also take the longest to cook, and often call for soaking, but it’s no big deal in a pressure cooker.

Soft wheat berries, sometimes labeled soft or pearled white wheat, are lightly processed for easier cooking and eating. They are more tender and take less time to cook.

To cook wheat berries: Add 1 cup of rinsed and drained wheat berries, 4 cups of water, a pinch of salt, and a glug of oil to an electric pressure. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes (for soft berries) or 40 minutes (for hard berries) and use a natural release. Drain.

Serve as a grain in soups, salads, or other savory dishes. Make a breakfast bowl with yogurt and fruit. It’s all goooood.

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Pressure Cooking Wheat Berries

Pressure Cooking Black-Eyed Peas

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As a kid I did not like black-eyed peas. I thought they tasted like dirt. My grandpa grew them in his garden, so my grandmother would end up with bags upon bags of them in the freezer. Looking back, I’d kill for those bags of fresh-picked peas.

Since I typically have to settle for the dried variety, I use my electric pressure cooker to make quick magic of the now-loved little beans. I have found some conflicting information about how long to cook black-eyed peas, so I had to do a bit of experimenting. Below is how I make them, along with some ideas for flavoring. Note that if you have a stove top pressure cooker the PSI and cook time can differ.

Black-Eyed Peas in an Electric Pressure Cooker

1 lb of black-eyed peas
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil (any cooking oil will do)

Optional but recommended (all or some):
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 onion, quartered

1. Rinse your beans in a colander and pick over them. What does this mean? Sift through the beans and looks for any bad ones (shriveled up and gross looking) or rocks. Yes, it happens.

2. Add the oil, garlic and onion (if using) to the pot of your pressure cooker and select Saute. Once hot, cook for a few minutes and stir until fragrant. Turn off the Saute function.

3. Add the beans, salt, and bay leaf (if using) and stir. Add 6 cups water or, even better, 3 cups stock and 3 cups water. Secure the lid.

4. Cook at high pressure for 8-10 minutes if you think your beans are pretty fresh and depending on how tender you like your beans. Cook  for 10-12 minutes if they’ve been on the store shelf for a bit and depending on how tender you like your beans. Don’t worry, we can fix it if they are not cooked enough.

5. Use a natural release. Once depressurized, check your beans. If they are tender enough, then move on! If not, select Saute and loosely cover. Check every five minutes until they are tender.

6. Drain your beans and flavor them. If they’re going in a soup or you like them plain, then leave them bean (get it??). If you want a little more flavor for your side dish, then see my suggestions below.

Flavor ideas:

  • harissa adds a kick
  • chopped fresh tomatoes, peppers, and onion add fresh flavor and texture
  • cumin, cayenne, and/or paprika add smoky spice
  • a dollop of sour cream and chives gives them the baked potato treatment
  • chopped bacon adds, well, salty bacon
  • chopped fresh parsley adds herbiness and can be used in combination with any of the above flavorings
Pressure Cooking Black-Eyed Peas