Cooking with an instant pot is convenient, time-saving, and mess-free, but it can be intimidating if you’re not careful with the steam release.
Are you new to using an instant pot and wondering about how natural pressure release works? If so, you’ve come to the right place!
This guide covers everything that you need to know about the instant pot, how to natural release instant pot, how it is different from the quick pressure release method, how long the natural release process takes, and much more!
WHAT IS AN INSTANT POT?
Instant Pot is a multicooker – an all-in-one convenient kitchen tool. It plays the role of a pressure cooker, a steamer, a warming pot, and much more.
The instant pot has gained popularity in recent years as it has proved handy for people who want to pressure cook food quickly without any hassle. You can read more about the specifics of this device here.
The top three benefits of using an instant pot rather than a pressure cooker are:
You don’t have to babysit it. Once set, you can leave it to go through its cooking cycle on its own
It is noise-free unlike the traditional pressure cooker
It is versatile and can be used for several purposes apart from pressure cooking
Using an instant pot to slow cook healthy meals can bring some exciting new recipes to your kitchen! If you’re planning to use an instant pot to prepare healthy meals for your family, this post on how to eat healthy using an instant pot will make it easier for you.
If you don’t have one yet and are planning to buy, know that there are various sizes of instant pot available on the market. The size you choose to purchase will depend on how you intend to use your instant pot.
If you are confused with the size that will fit your requirements, check out this post on which instant pot you should buy for some helpful tips!
INSTANT POT DUO CRISP PRESSURE COOKER
HOW DOES INSTANT POT WORK?
Using an instant pot for cooking is simple and easy. It includes the following basic steps:
Once the food is cooked in the instant pot, it is important to release the steam pressure. You can do it in two ways: natural release and quick release.
Here’s what you should know about both these ways of releasing steam pressure.
WHAT IS NATURAL RELEASE?
Natural release is the method of allowing the steam to release naturally from the instant pot. Once the food is cooked, the instant pot will release the steam automatically from its steam valve.
Since the steam is released gradually, this process can take a bit longer than quick release. On average, it can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes.
WHAT IS QUICK RELEASE?
The quick release method involves releasing the steam quickly from the instant pot. With this method, you stop the cooking process immediately, releasing all of the steam yourself instantly.
Since this method lets the steam release the pressure valve in an instant, it doesn’t take as long as the natural release method.
HOW IS NATURAL RELEASE DIFFERENT FROM QUICK RELEASE?
The basic difference between these two methods is that natural release takes its own time and the quick release will depressurize the pot instantly.
If you wish to cook your food gradually and don’t mind letting your food sit as the steam releases, it is best to go with the natural release method. However, if you want to pressure cook and avoid overcooking, going with a quick release method may be better.
Check out this video that explains the difference between natural release and quick release: Using Instant Pot – Natural Release and Quick Release.
WHEN TO USE NATURAL RELEASE AND QUICK RELEASE
RECOMMENDED FOODS FOR NATURAL RELEASE
Using natural release is good for cooking foods that need prolonged cooking.
For example, cooking foods like beans is better with the natural release method. These foods can withstand the extra cook time as the steam releases, and natural release will ensure they do not get ripped apart from the force of escaping steam.
It is also recommended to use this method for liquid foods like soup, or foamy foods like potatoes and oatmeal. As the steam is released gradually, you won’t have to worry about the liquid splattering out of the instant pot and creating a mess around the kitchen.
You can also consider natural release while cooking meat, especially recipes like pot roast. The gradual release of the pressure allows the meat to rest, making it tender and juicier.
RECOMMENDED FOODS FOR QUICK RELEASE
You should consider quick release if you want to cook delicate foods like vegetables, poultry, a rice recipe, or pasta. As these foods have a tendency to turn mushy, the quick release method can help to combat that issue.
You can also consider quick release if you want to cook something that requires adding ingredients in the instant pot once your food is partially cooked. Release the pressure quickly by pushing the steam release button, open the lid, add your ingredients, close it, and program the pot to continue pressure cooking.
The quick release is the fastest way of cooking, but it comes with a list of precautions. As the steam is hot above the boiling point, it can burn your skin if you have not taken any safety precautions.
It is best to read the user manual and its care instructions before using an instant pot, especially while releasing the pressure through the quick release method.
INSTANT POT DUO NOVA PRESSURE COOKER
HOW MUCH TIME DOES NATURAL RELEASE AND QUICK RELEASE TAKE?
NATURAL RELEASE TIME
The time of the pressure release in this method depends on two things:
The size of your instant pot: A pot with a larger capacity has the potential to build up a larger volume of pressure, while a pot with a smaller capacity will take comparatively less time to do a natural release.
The food being cooked: What type of food you’re cooking will contribute to the natural release time. If the food is simple and takes less cooking time, the instant pot will have less natural release time.
Normally, the natural release time may last anywhere between a few minutes to 30 minutes, depending on what you’re cooking.
QUICK RELEASE TIME
As the name suggests, this method is fairly quick. But, at the same time, it even depends on the amount of food you’re cooking. If you’re cooking a small amount, it will take less time, if you cook a lot, it could take longer. However, it is still quicker than the natural release method.
IS NATURAL RELEASE SAFER THAN QUICK RELEASE?
In short, yes, the natural release is comparatively safer than quick release.
Natural release takes its own time to depressurize the instant pot. There is no risk of you coming into contact with steam as the pot itself removes the steam.
When using the quick release method, you have to take certain precautions like avoiding an instant pot mistake. It’s important to avoid direct contact with the steam and ensure that the food is not splattering out from the steam release valve.
If you’re using a quick release method, a good rule of thumb is to stay back and avoid leaning your face or placing your hand over the cooker while it is releasing the steam. You may want to use kitchen tongs or a wooden spoon to push the valve, to avoid your skin coming in direct contact with the hot steam.
IS NATURAL RELEASE BETTER THAN QUICK RELEASE?
Both these methods have their pros and cons, depending on what you are planning to cook.
ADVANTAGES OF NATURAL RELEASE:
The pressure inside the instant pot drops gradually over time while using natural release
There’s less movement inside the pot which proves beneficial if it’s full or if you’re cooking something frothy
Natural release is useful in cooking big cuts of red meat as the slow and steady release of the steam allows the meat to rest and reabsorb. The result is a juicier and more tender meat
DISADVANTAGES OF NATURAL RELEASE:
As the steam releases naturally, this method can take a long time
It does not work for cooking foods that can get easily overcooked
ADVANTAGES OF QUICK RELEASE:
This method stops the cooking process right away
It is best to cook food that can end up being overcooked during a more gradual release of pressure
It is quicker and less time-consuming
DISADVANTAGES OF QUICK RELEASE:
Using this method creates a lot of movement inside the pot and if full, there are chances of food spurting out while making a mess of your kitchen
A rapid change in pressure can sometimes break apart or burst the food
Using quick release for foods that are designed for the natural release can yield undercooked food
There are pros and cons to both of these methods! If you’re fascinated with the idea of slow cooking, you might be interested in checking out our guide and reviews on 9 slow cookers to buy this year.
INSTANT POT DUO 7-IN-1 ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER
HOW TO USE NATURAL RELEASE IN INSTANT POT
Before explaining the process, let’s have a quick review of some important terms:
If you’re using the instant pot for the first time, it is highly recommended to go through the user manual and thoroughly understand the parts and precautions involved in using the instant pot.
With regards to pressure release, the terms mentioned below are some of the important parts that you should know about:
PRESSURE RELEASE HANDLE
The big knob that you see on the lid is used to release pressure from the pot manually. You can set it to ‘sealing’ and ‘venting’ as per the requirement.
Set the valve to the ‘sealing’ position by turning it clockwise. This is used to build up the pressure and produce steam while the food is being cooked.
Turn the setting to ‘venting’ as soon as the instant pot beeps, i.e. the cooking is completed. It is essential to vent the pot before opening the lid.
The round metal bit next to the pressure release handle is the float valve.
When this valve is at the level with the lid, it means the pot is pressurized and is yet to release the steam. If the float valve drops down, it means the steam has been released and now it is safe to open the lid.
PRESSURE RELEASE BUTTON
You can find this button on the newest instant pot models. Instead of a pressure release handle, there’s a pressure release valve and a pressure release button.
When you press this button, it will release the steam. It is similar to turning the pressure release handle on in the older instant pot models.
THE PROCESS OF USING NATURAL RELEASE IN INSTANT POT
Now that we’ve gone through the basic terminology, let’s explore how you’d use natural release in a recipe!
Adding the Ingredients in the Instant Pot
Add your ingredients and water to the instant pot and program it to cook the way you desire.
Allowing the Instant Pot to Function
This is the cooking stage. Once programmed, the instant pot will go ahead with cooking your food exactly the way you want. Sit back and relax till you hear the beep.
Depressurizing the Instant Pot
Once the food is pressure-cooked, wait for 10 to 30 minutes till the instant pot cools down and depressurizes on its own. Do not try to open the lid at this stage.
For more info, check out this article from Instant Pot on depressurizing.
Waiting for the Float Valve to Drop Down
The float valve will give you an indication that the steam has been released or not.
In the case when the valve is still up and in line with the top of the lid, give some more time for the pot to release the pressure. If the float valve drops down, it means the steam has been removed. You can open the lid now.
Turning the Pressure Release Handle Setting to ‘Venting’
Make sure to turn the setting to ‘venting’ or press the pressure release button if you have the latest instant pot model. Do this before opening the lid. It’s a safe practice to always vent the lid before opening it.
Opening the Lid
You can open the lid only after the steam is released completely. Check your food, make changes if required, and get ready to eat!
SOME SAFETY PRECAUTIONS TO CONSIDER WHILE USING INSTANT POT
An instant pot comes with many built-in safety features. However, you should follow additional precautions like:
Never touch hot surfaces of instant pot, especially the stainless-steel parts. You can use oven gloves to remove the inner pot.
Avoid placing the instant pot near or on the gas or electric burner.
Never move the instant pot when it is pressurized.
It is not a good idea to overfill the pot. Don’t go beyond 2/3rd of your instant pot capacity.
If you’re cooking foods that tend to expand, don’t fill more than 1/2 of the pot capacity.
Keep an eye on the sealing ring, float valve, anti-block shield, and steam release pipe to ensure that they are clean and do not have any sort of blockage.
Never try to open the lid until the instant pot is depressurized
Protect your face and hands by staying away from the instant pot during the depressurizing stage.
Ensure that the steam release mechanism is not blocked during the depressurization of the instant pot.
Take extra precautions if there’s a time shortage and you want to quickly release frothy foods like oatmeal and pasta. You may even try releasing pressure in short bursts.
Never use a different model’s lid on your instant pot.
Avoid using a lid while using the Sauté program.
An instant pot can be a great addition to any kitchen! And though releasing the pressure can be intimidating, hopefully this guide has made you more confident in your use of your instant pot.
If you’re new to using an instant pot, there are a lot of beginner recipes available online. Expand your culinary skills with a convenient, time-saving, and mess-free instant pot and enjoy new foods with your family.
Have you already tried any natural release instant pot recipes? How did they turn out? What additional tips would you like to give to beginners while using an instant pot? Share your experience with us in the comments below.