It’s no secret that the Instant Pot is an amazing kitchen appliance. It’s super compact and incredibly versatile making it perfect for cooking a wide range of different recipes even in the smallest of kitchens.
However, using the appliance for the first couple of times can be both daunting and confusing.
With so many different buttons and numbers/letters on the display, it can be hard to understand what each item means and whether or not it’s important.
For example, one of the first things I realised after using my Instant Pot for the first time was the ‘LO:00’ which showed on the display.
The L on an Instant Pot means “low heat”. This symbol usually appears once the food has finished cooking in your Instant Pot. You can remove the “low heat” by clicking cancel and venting the appliance or you can leave the low heat running to keep your food warm until it’s ready to serve.
Depending on what you’re cooking, how you’re cooking it and how / when you want to serve it utilizing this keep warm/low heat function can be incredibly convenient.
What Does The L Symbol On An Instant Pot Mean
The L symbol on an instant pot appears to alert the users that the food is ready and it’s on “low heat”.
This symbol appears without you pressing any button and is triggered by the timer on the Instant Pot expiring.
Sometimes you’ll find that your L symbol reads something like LO:05
This means it’s been five minutes since the food finished cooking inside your Instant Pot and the food has been kept warm using the appliance for that set amount of time.
The keep-warm temperature of the Instant Pot is 60°C. However, it may take some time for the Instant Pot to depressurize and be reduced to that temperature naturally.
Quick note: 60°C is the optimal temperature to avoid overcooking, while also keeping the food warm and safe to eat/preventing bacteria.
Once the food is ready and the L symbol comes up, it keeps counting up and keeping the food warm for up to 10 hours.
To stop the keep-warm function simply click on the cancel button.
How Pressure Release Works With The Keep Warm Function
The keep-warm function of the Instant Pot also allows the pressure inside of the pot to release naturally.
This process usually takes around 30 minutes although the exact time can vary depending on the ingredients inside.
Alternatively, if you want quick-release for your Instant Pot pressure valve then instead of using the keep-warm function over an extended period of time, you’d instead press the cancel button on the appliance and then safely move the release valve to release.
Does The L Symbol Mean The Same On All Instant Pot Models?
While different Instant Pot models can offer alternative cooking methods the L symbol still means the same thing on all of them.
Can I Still Use My Instant Pot When The L Symbol Is Displayed?
As the Instant Pot is still functioning when the L symbol is being displayed you’ll need to cancel this function by clicking the cancel button before actioning any new functions such as saute for example.
When To Use The Keep Warm / L Symbol On Your Instant Pot
There are a number of instances when you might want to use the keep the warm function of the Instant Pot to your advantage. Here are some of my favourites;
When You Are Away for a Few Hours
If you’re going out for an hour or two (maybe to pick the kids up from school, or from dance) then you might want to leave the Instant Pot on a keep-warm function so that you’re food is ready to be served once you get home.
When You Want A Slow, Natural Pressure Release
Opening an instant pot as soon as your food is ready is dangerous.
For recipes that require a quick release of pressure, you can follow the timer count as soon as the L symbol lit up. (5mins or more is recommended).
So when your food is cooked and you want a quick pressure release, leaving your instant pot on the L symbol is advisable.