If you're speeding up dinner prep with the pressure cooker function on your Instant Pot, there is one small but very important detail you'll want to take care of before you can walk away to let this wonder pot do its thing. Can you guess what it is?
Always Turn the Steam Release Knob to the Sealed Position
Yes, I know, it's incredibly simple and I'm sure many of you are thinking this is the most obvious step before cooking anything in an Instant Pot. So obvious, in fact, that it's hardly a tip worth sharing. And that is where I disagree, because along with so many others (I know you're out there!), I manage to gloss over this super-simple step nine of 10 times when using my Instant Pot. So, this is my reminder to you, and myself: Always turn the venting knob to sealed after securing the lid on your Instant Pot.
Why Keeping the Steam Release Sealed Is Important
I'm usually alerted to the fact that I forgot to turn the venting knob by the sounds of a high-pitched hiss and the sputter of water. It's often right around the time I'd expect the Instant Pot to come to pressure.
In order for pressure to build in the Instant Pot — a necessary requirement for pressure cooking — the steam release knob must be turned to the sealed position. This traps the steam pressure in the cooker, which builds over time, eventually pressure cooking the ingredients.
When this knob is set to the venting position, pressure is unable to build inside the Instant Pot, as the steam is continually escaping through the lid. Forgetting to adjust the knob to the sealed position certainly won't ruin dinner (it's an easy fix to just switch the knob to the correct position and wait a little longer for the cooker to come to pressure), but making sure it's sealed before cooking is a simple yet crucial step. Here's hoping we both remember next time.