Denis Papin, a French mathematician and physicist, is credited with making the first pressure cooker in history in 1679. It had a locking lid on top of a cast iron cookpot. Papin discovered quickly that the locked lid raised the boiling point of water and caused food to cook more rapidly. Specifically, meat cooked much faster, especially the tougher cuts of meat that were less expensive.
Ancient versions of the pressure cooker were extremely large and required their own furnaces to provide heat to them, so they were not common in homes. They were also dangerous, and explosions were not rare when people used them – aren’t you glad you live in the 21st century? Eventually, Papin developed a safety valve that helped to release some of the pressure, making even the early versions much safer to use.
By 1919, pressure cookers had not changed very much. Spain gave a patent to Jose Alix Martinez in 1919, however, for his “express cooking pot.” They were still large and were not very common in homes, but more people were interested in having one for themselves. Martinez wrote a pressure cooker recipe book in 1924 detailing 360 different recipes for use in a pressure cooker.
The first pressure cooker for use in the home was invented by Alfred Vischer. He called his version the “Flex-Seal Speed Cooker” and after he presented it, several big manufacturers set to work copying the prototype’s design and function. By the World’s Fair in 1939, several companies had their own perfected designs, but the most prominent was the version from National Presto Industries which had just rebranded itself to the “National Pressure Cooker Company.”
Today’s pressure cookers are far safer than their historical counterparts — including Indian and Korean pressure cookers . The locking mechanisms are secure, and there are other safety features. You also don’t need a dedicated furnace anymore. Stove top versions and electric versions are both popular, and each has their strengths. The best electric pressure cookers are the height of technology when it comes to pressure cooking, including timers and other settings that come in handy. Many home cooks swear by adding pressure cookers and a few accessories to their cooking arsenal whether they are cooking rice, beans, or a hearty stew.
Video of an Really Old Chinese Pressure Cooker