Recently a friend emailed me asking how to clean an electric programmable pressure cooker (EPPC) so that it didn’t retain the smells of previous cooked foods. This friend is certainly not the only one asking this question. In fact, after I got my own EPPC, I had the same concern. In my search for advice, I encountered lots of stories and advice from other EPPC owners with one owner even claiming to have found maggots growing in the condensation collector! True or not, there are at least eight parts of any EPPC that should be cleaned after every use and it only takes minutes to do: the inner pot, base, trivet, lid, silicone ring, pressure valve, condensation collector, and the anti-block shield. With the exception of the base, all of these parts are dishwasher safe with most manufacturers. The cooker base must be kept dry but can be wiped with a damp cloth.
It is always best to consult the manual that came with the EPPC for the best way to clean the appliance, but we know how manuals get misplaced or sometimes really don’t provide much information. Another source is to look online for the EPPC manufacturer and hopefully find care information; however, this may not be possible with some generic EPPC brands. One EPPC manufacturer, InstantPot, provides great care and cleaning tips. While the tips may be specific to InstantPot, they would be useful for other EPPCs as well if information cannot be found from a specific manufacturer.
If after all of these areas have been cleaned properly and a lingering odor is still detected, it is likely coming from the silicon sealing ring as it does hold food odors. I have found three ways to help defuse those odors: soaking the ring in vinegar, turning the lid upside down between uses or leaving the ring exposed to air, and placing a small box of baking soda in the unit between uses. Other suggestions I’ve read include putting the ring in the sun, wiping the ring with a stainless steel soap disc, soaking or steaming in lemon water and baking soda, or purchasing two rings, one for savory and one for sweet. If one does opt for a second sealing ring or needs to replace a ring, be sure to get genuine manufactured parts to ensure the EPPC will work correctly and safely.
Another concern EPPC users have is with the gradual discoloration of the stainless steel inner pot. If it is turning a blue-yellow, white vinegar will bring it back to it’s original luster. The procedure is to let white vinegar stand in the pot for at least 5 minutes and then rinse with water. If the bottom of the pot is dulled perhaps due to sautéing or hard water, I have found that a small amount of baking soda or a non-abrasive scouring cleanser like Bar Keepers Friend Liquid Cleanser on a damp cloth or sponge does an excellent job of bringing back the original shine after rinsing and drying. Don’t use anything metallic for scouring because it will damage the finish!
These are the suggestions that I gave my friend as they seem to work well for me. If you are an EPPC user and have additional suggestions, I’d love to hear your tips!