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Monday, November 19, 2018

**REVIEW** Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1

Welp. I finally got my Instant Pot, thanks to a dear, dear friend who heard about my wishes via social media. I truly am a blessed woman in the friend department.

Let me start by saying that I wondered if all the hype was deserved. I will let you know in a moment what I have determined for myself.

Another thing you need to know is that I will never understand why this thing is not called the InstaPot. That's what I always called it and when I first noticed it was "Instant Pot", wondered if I wasn't under the Mandela Effect!

Anyway, here is the famous Instant Pot (aka IP):

You know that "InstaPot © ™" sounds so much better!!!

There are a number of models (and capacity sizes). I got the Duo60 in the 6-quart. I'm single but often cook enough food to last for a week. Also, I want to be able to cook a whole chicken (or very small turkey) in the IP.

My first impressions...
I like that the inner pot is stainless steel. I've been mainly using my cast iron and trying to stay away from everything else (copper, Teflon, and other potentially harmful materials).

My IP doesn't have the same markings as some of the other Duos I've seen online in videos and the like. I have the simple 2-line markings instead of the 4 or more lines I've seen. After watching a lot of videos and reading multiple reviews, I notice that it seems to be a thing that people get different types of lids and inner pots on the same models. Not a big deal, but I would have liked to have more detailed markings.

It's a very nice looking machine and quite a bit heavier and bigger than I expected (which is a good thing, IMO) and much nicer looking than this or other photos show. I have a very small kitchen so I keep my IP on top of the fridge when I'm not using it.

The instruction booklet was decent but, in my opinion, fell short in some ways. For people new to using any type of pressure cooker, I think there should have been better information about a few things. You will see what I mean in a moment.

To give you a newbie's perspective, I'm going to share the notes I took when getting ready to deal with this thing for the first time.

Now, on to the prep and use

Right off, I had a couple of concerns about the idea of using a pressure cooker since I grew up watching my mom use the old-fashioned - and potentially exploding - kind. I wanted to totally understand the steam/vent settings. Understand that some of what I'm going to say might not be as much of a concern for you. I have cognitive issues and have to read and re-read instructions.

The markings for the steam/vent settings are just embossed on the black lid and hard to read. I literally had to use my camera light to see them before I started testing out the machine.



Also, in the above photo, notice the icons - wave lines and puff cloud. The cloud made sense for the venting setting (releasing steam when done cooking), but the wavy lines... I wanted to set the machine to be sealed but the knob only turns as far as the wavy lines. I was worried that my knob might be broken or mis-positioned. I scoured the internet before I was reassured that the IP was indeed sealed once I turned the knob to those wavy lines.

The IP did come with a not-bad manual (and a cookbook!).


However, the diagrams could have been better for us newbies. Also, as a former imports brokerage trainer who wrote manuals, I believe instructions should be simple but complete. They should never be the least bit confusing.

Not to harp on the whole "pressure cookers can be scary" thing, but one part of the user manual made me anxious and sent me running back online for clarification. I was already worried about the positioning the knob correctly...




... but then there this mention of an "anti-block" shield. Well, that does sound kind of important since it's up there in the underside of the steam knob.


After checking around, I think I have that figured out. Don't take this for gospel but I believe the little metal (not the rubber one) covering shown in the diagram is to stop frothy foods from clogging the steam release. I think. I wish the instructions would have noted that right next to the diagram. I also wish it had been noted that the thing only needs to be removed for cleaning it out.

Some more newbie stumbling blocks...
On the Pro side, the user manual includes a "test run" for newbies to see how the machine works. On the Con side, I was a little scared of the test. My main issue was that I didn't know how to tell the machine was working.

A "Start" button would be nice. Even a "Go" button would work. With this IP, you key in the settings (whether to saute or steam or pressure cook) and, if needed, adjust the timer and pressure levels. That's it. I could kind of tell that the machine was working because the display popped up an "ON" message. That's handy (and then I noticed the instructions for test run noted this) but, still. I want to be a little more in control here.

There is a "Cancel" button. Now that I have learned when the machine is done and safe to be opened, I always hit Cancel. I hit Cancel and immediately unplug the machine. I am always worried about leaving any appliances on. I even unplug the manual coffee pot I sometimes use.

One lesson I learned right away was where to place the IP in the kitchen while using it. In the pressure mode, steam will need to be released. During the test run, I had the steam nozzle directly under the spice cabinet. Luckily, I realized this in time and moved the machine. Not only could I have damaged the cabinets but I likely would have risked drying out my spices when all that moisture evaporated. When I use the pot now, I put it away from counters with overhead cabinets. (Actually, I have such a tiny kitchen, I only have one such counter!)

Lessons learned from experienced users...

I learned much more from other users' videos and informative blogs than I did from the manual. Some users highlighted what they learned from the manual and their experience and I appreciate that.

I learned not to use the IP on the stove. And by that, I mean not to set the IP on the stove because, well, maybe you have a tiny kitchen... (I couldn't have done that because the stovetop is  too small!)

That some people forget to insert the lining and just pour water or food right onto the IP heating element doesn't surprise me. I could totally see myself doing that so I make sure to always, always, clean and place the inner pot back.

One of the first videos I watched really helped ease my anxiety about my first time with the IP. The lady in the video was so awesome that I watched a couple more of her vlogs. Her channel is Naturally Brittany and here are her vids I loved:




She does a yogurt lesson but that's going to have to wait until after I master the cheesecake this dude did...


But getting back to basics here is another helpful video for newbies


When you get your user manual, you will see that there are Facebook groups and other places on social media to connect up with other IP users.

Is it worth the hype?

Yes. Yes, the Instant Pot lives up to its popularity. Once I got over my fears of working with a pressure cooker, I fell in love. I have some main reasons:

  • I can cook frozen meats - no waiting to thaw
  • Juices get locked in on my chicken and burgers
  • Cleanup is crazy easy - both for the kitchen and the IP. It's mostly one-pot cooking so I only had to straighten kitchen from food prep.
  • My first meal was tough collard green stems (that take forever to cook on the stove top) and some chicken breasts. I did both things at one time in about 7 minutes cook time.
  • I get more flavor out of my food because the water isn't evaporating away. (Those burgers were the juiciest ever.)
  • Even if I never use the Yogurt, Porridge, or Multigrain settings, I am getting more use out of this than any other cooking appliance I have. (And I might actually use those 3 settings soon.)
  • I'm less tempted to microwave my food. It takes so little time to cook things that I don't mind spending some on seasoning and dressing up the food.
  • It really has been healthier for me. Two meals in and I have had lots of fresh veggies and non-fried meats.
  • Because I know that cleanup is going to be quick and the food will be ready faster, I don't mind cooking even when I'm not feeling my best.
And let me just admit that what really hooked me on the IP was when I saw the guy making a cheesecake that came out nicely. That is the next project for this Instant Pot.


Peace
--Free