Instant Pot® achieves the best cooking results with a set of pre-set smart cooking programs. The programs are stored and executed by an advanced microprocessor chip inside the Instant Pot® control panel. The programs have been chosen after extensive testing in our lab with various foods.
The smart cooking programs control the cooking process with four parameters: heating intensity, temperature, pressure and duration.
- Heating intensity refers to the amount of heat generated by the heating element. The main reason to control heating intensity is to manage the temperature at the bottom of the cooking pot, primarily to avoid burning food content at the bottom. For instance, heating is slower and gradual for the “Soup” function whereas fast and steep for the “Steam” (knowing there’s no food in contact to the cooking pot bottom). Heating intensity control is also used for soaking, for programs like the “Multigrain” function. Instant Pot® models have a heating element with 1000W power rating. The heat output of heating element is controlled by switching the power on and off for varying durations.
- Temperature is the cooking temperature in the cooking pot throughout the cooking process. The peak working temperature of Instant Pot® is 115°C-118°C or 239°F-244°F. However, the smart cooking programs don’t always maintain the peak temperature. In the “Multigrain” program, to soften the grains, the food content is heated to 60oC for warm soaking for 50 minutes before cooking starts.
- Pressure: When the liquid content in the cooking port reaches the natural boiling point (varies depending on the altitude of your location), steam builds up in the cooking pot and generates pressurization. The thermodynamics of gas indicates that in ideal cases the product of the pressure and volume of a gas is directly proportional to the temperature. Since the volume in the cooking pot is a constant, we can consider the pressure being linearly related to the temperature of the gas, and to large extent (with delaying effect) to the temperature of the liquid content. The working pressure of Instant Pot is 10.15-11.6 psi (pound-force per square inch).
- Cooking duration is the time it taked for the food content to cook. The cooking duration changes depending on the volume of the food content. For example, to cook 2 cups of rice, it takes about 14 minutes (8 minute pressure keeping time). More than 2 cups, it takes about 28 minutes (10 minute pressure keeping time). Additional pressure keeping time ensures rice being cooked evenly in volume. The default timing has been tested in our lab which works well in most cases. However, in situations when food needs to be well-done or less-cooked, the cooking duration can be adjusted with the “Adjust” button.
The smart cooking programs can be better understood with the visual temperature/pressure charts in relation with cooking time. The following are the temperature/pressure charts of “Bean/Chili”, “Meat/Stew”, “Soup”, “Congee” and “Multigrain” cooking programs.