I just cooked 2 sweet potatoes in the new Max Instant Pot. I found it very easy to use because it is touch control. Much easier for me than the Ultra which requires you to dial through the programs to get to the desired setting and flashier than the Duo.
If you have read my cookbook The New Fast Food you know that I have referred to my pressure cookers as my “boyfriends” (but don’t worry because I am happily married). Since this is a review of the Instant Pot Max, let’s just say that Max and I are still dating.
What I love – The digital touch screen is simple to use and understand, compared to the Ultra which did not have a touch screen but had a dial to guide you through the settings.
You don’t have to be concerned if you have the valve on sealing or venting since the pot seals automatically.
You can change the setting while the pot is working before it gets to pressure and even afterward you can switch from natural to intermittent or quick release just by touching the screen. So if you decide that you want a quick release or intermittent release at the end of cooking, you can reset it easily. All the settings can easily be adjusted.
The LCD display design and function makes the pot easy to use although many people who have never used a pot like this might be intimidated by all the choices. Don’t worry as the quick-start guide that comes with the pot is the best one yet. You also get a timing chart that is mostly photos. (more about this later)
The yogurt setting allows you to change the time to intervals shorter than 30 minutes so if you want yogurt in 9 hours and 20 minutes, you can do that. My preferred timing is 12 to 14 hours but I might play around with intervals shorter than 30 minutes.
What I would like to see differently:
I don’t like that I can’t just turn the knob and release the pressure which prevents a lack of control. The release is slower on the Max and that can lead to overcooked vegetables.
I would venture to guess that if you have the pot do a quick release and have “keep warm’ turned off, with the intention of NOT having your food overcook, that it will not work since it’s still plenty hot in the pot. If you are cooking fast cooking vegetables, your food will be best if you are there, paying some kind of attention and opening the lid right away. And even on low pressure for 1 minute, I found that my broccoli was more cooked than I would have liked it when cooked directly in the pot. I am better able to control this in my Duo model. Since I eat many vegetables, for me this is a drawback.
You can no longer set the pot to ZERO setting and there is no steam setting although with liquid in the pot you can steam any food in a basket or if larger, on a trivet. I actually don’t steam much food except for my potatoes, sweet potatoes or winter squash, generally preferring to cook directly in the pot. I can live without the STEAM setting but I really miss zero.
The first time that the pot did a quick release on its own, it scared me. I will have to get used to that.
There seems to be much more condensation inside the pot by the gasket which leads to pools of water around the outside of the rim inside the pot although I don’t see much liquid pooling in the condensation collector. Very odd.
If the canning feature is to work, the 15 (pounds per square inch) is essential. Since the pot has not yet been approved for canning, the Max designation may be irrelevant. I advise using the Max setting with caution for most plant foods. However if you live at elevation, this might be the key to more perfectly cooked food. Or maybe Max and I need to spend more time together so that I can “perfect” my recipes.
Timing charts: the Instant Pot people and I once again disagree on timing when cooking the vegetables listed in their guide. I am guessing that maybe I prefer my veggies less cooked than they do.
If you use my timing charts I believe that you will see that I might know what I am talking about and know how to cook well but this is my first electric pressure cooker with 15 psi (pounds per square inch). And that changes a lot. I have not found it necessary to use pressure that high but maybe people who cook non-plant foods find it useful. My current recipes will not turn out well on the MAX setting as food will generally overcook so choose low or high pressure as directed.
My standard recipes (those in The New Fast Food and Vegan Under Pressure) have worked well in the older models of the IP without having to make any adjustments to the timing between the stove top PC and the IP and you can also do that in the Max when using low or high pressure. However, while using the MAX mode, I ended up with overcooked potatoes, sweet potatoes and had rice that stuck to the bottom of the pot, even when I adjusted the time by decreasing it by up to 20 percent. Maybe it needed 30 percent less time but how many mushy potatoes was I willing to endure? (not too many). Beans turned out well but I expected that. I am not sure that with plant-based cooking that anyone needs 15 pounds per square inch in an electric pressure cooker. (And you probably never have cared about your PSI before, have you?)
I did not test out the Sous Vide function because I ran out of time (OK, the dog ate my homework or the printer didn’t work – my students favorite excuses)- so no comment on Sous Vide (which I won’t likely ever use as it’s not my type of cooking).
The quick start guide is good, the best so far, and makes using the Max seem easy, and there are color photos to show how long to cook various foods. We still don’t agree on timing but that’s OK. If you use my timing charts I believe that you will see that I might know what I am talking about but this is my first electric pressure cooker with 15 psi (pounds per square inch). And that changes a lot. I have not found it necessary to use pressure that high but maybe people who cook non-plant foods find it useful. My current recipes will not turn out well on the MAX setting as food will generally overcook.
So, overall I like the ease of using the touch screen and the high and low pressure functions. Haven’t fallen in love with Max and not sure that I will. Perhaps he is into more meat-based cooking. I can either accept that or just use low and high pressure with ease.
I am in this for the journey and don’t need perfection except maybe for my broccoli.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions. The Max model will be out this fall.
Note: The Instant Pot company sent me this pressure cooker to review. The comments and opinions are all my own, and this review contains my honest feelings about this product.