Just like any other kind of task that you get in the kitchen, you’re going to want to make sure that you prioritize safety when working with your Instant Pot.
One of the important things to look out for is opening the Instant Pot only when it is safe to do so. But when is this?
Remember that an Instant Pot is essentially an electric pressure cooker. It works with steam building up pressure to create a high temperature that cooks the food more rapidly than conventional cooking methods.
To help protect you, your loved ones, and your food, here are the essential details to keep in mind.
What To Look For
Every Instant Pot has a red or silver metal float valve on top of the plastic lid. When it is dropped below the level of the rest of the lid, this means the pot is not pressurized and can be safely and easily opened.
When the valve is up and level with the rest of the lid, this means that the pot is pressurized and must not be opened. (It would be difficult to do so anyway, so never try to force it.)
There Is A Reason The Lid Locks
If you’ve worked with your Instant Pot before and, without thinking, tried to take the lid off in the middle of a cooking cycle, you’ve probably already discovered that the lid isn’t easy to remove.
In fact, it doesn’t budge because it’s locked. Can you override this by trying to take it off anyway? Yes. Should you? No.
The reason for this is to protect you. When your cooker is building or holding itself at pressure, it will instantly hit you with a massive amount of steam if you open the lid.
This will cause serious burns because the contents are pressurized and extremely hot. It will also spray the food all over your kitchen, ruining the food and creating a huge mess.
So, When Is It Safe To Open An Instant Pot?
You’ll be able to have it switch over to a natural pressure release (NPR) if you’ve programmed it to do so, or you can switch it over manually by pressing a button.
With the NPR is done, it will let you know (it’s usually 15-20 minutes) and you can take the lid off. Programmed pressure release slowly and safely allows the steam to escape and the pressure to come down.
Certain recipes call for a quick release (QR) instead. This is done much faster, but still safely if you use the correct procedure. It also uses a button on the machine to activate it.
When you press the QR button, make sure your hands and face are clear of the vent holes, as the term “quick” is, well, quick. When it is done, it will let you know, and you’ll be able to remove the lid safely.
Lastly, remember that you can’t override the pressure cooker program by just simply pressing the release valve whenever you want to (rather than trying to take off the lid).
Just like removing the lid at the wrong time, this will injure you if you do it while the pot is holding pressure, and it will also ruin your food.
While most Instant Pots hover around the 12-20 minute mark for NPR and less than 5 minutes for the QR options, you’ll want to consult your own Instant Pot’s guide to make sure you know roughly how long it will take before you can open your pot safely.
Open The Pot Carefully
An Instant Pot is a safe and powerful kitchen tool, but make sure you always use it safely, just anything else that you may be using in your kitchen.
Never lean in closely to the steam release valve when the Instant Pot is on. When touching the valve, use something like a wooden spoon with a long handle so that your hand is away from the valve.
Do not attempt to open your Instant Pot’s lid until all the pressure has been vented. You will know when this has occurred because the float valve will drop.
If you are using the natural release method, wait for the time specified then turn the steam release valve to “venting” to ensure all the steam has exited. The float valve should have dropped.
Open the lid carefully while tilting it away from you so that the steam will not touch your face. Never try to open your Instant Pot when it is pressurized.