Social communities abound with encouraging pictures illustrating Instant Pot success stories. They also document #epicfails, like setting a machine atop one’s stove and inadvertently turning on a hot burner.

I was so stunned by my first big blunder that I didn’t have time to capture the moment. It took two people and several bath towels to contain the gushing mess after I dumped not one, but two pitchers of water into the empty machine. I had left the inner cooking pot in the sink.

“I can’t tell you how many people have done that, including me,” says Kathy Hester of Durham, author of “The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot.” To prevent such mishaps, Hester keeps the lid upside down when not in use, forcing herself to check the inside of the machine before loading ingredients.

Hester shares tips for getting the best out of your multicooker, and even tricking it to do things some people claim it can’t.

To help you get started, Hester offers a vegan queso dip so irresistible that it just might replace the calorie-dense version popular at game day parties. Additional recipes can be found on the Instant Pot tab of her blog, Healthy Slow Cooking.

Don’t be afraid of pressure cooking: Your mother or grandmother may have terrified you with tales of exploding pressure cookers, but they are much safer today. Still, stay close by the first time you try the pressure setting, and use caution when venting the pot to release steam. Manual release allows steam to escape quickly, an essential step to avoid over-cooked rice. Natural release allows the machine to decrease pressure gradually during a stay-warm cycle.

• Yes, you can cook fresh vegetables: You can “trick” your Instant Pot to not overcook fresh produce. Using the pressure setting, enter 0 minutes for the cook time. This allows the machine to come to pressure, at which point you flip the manual release to halt cooking. Be careful about opening the lid as there may be residual steam, but inside you’ll find tender-crisp vegetables.

• Never force the lid open: There’s a reason it locks shut, and that’s because it’s crazy hot in there. “With very few exceptions, I always use natural pressure release,” Hester says. “It’s safer, and it gives me more time to drink wine and read a book on the porch.”

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• Speed of cooking: Your deskmate may boast about cooking steel-cut oats in 3 minutes, but he’s not counting the time it takes to get up to pressure and come back down. Still, that’s hands-off time, which is a lot simpler that standing by the stove and stirring for up to 30 minutes.

• Useful accessory: If you cook a lot of savory and sweet recipes, considering getting a pair of color-coded gaskets. “There’s nothing like cooking your morning oatmeal and having it taste like last night’s curry,” says Hester, who knows from experience. After cleaning your Instant Pot, set the lid upside down so the gasket can dry fully.

• Beans don’t always behave: Hester’s book includes a timetable for cooking various ingredients, but beans are tough to judge. Older, dryer beans will take more time than fresher beans. If they are not sufficiently tender at the end of the cycle, add a splash of water, close the lid and set it for a few more minutes.

• Watery results: If your finished dish is too wet, restart the Instant Pot on the sauté setting. “Sometimes, when we use an appliance, we forget the basic things we’d do on the stove,” Hester says. “Just cook for a few minutes, stirring until the excess water is evaporated.”

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