Pressure Cooking: Raising the Boiling Point

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The same principal is put to use to speed cooking in the pressure cooker. This appliance reduces cooking times by trapping the steam that escapes from boiling water, thereby increasing the pressure on the liquid, and so raising its boiling point— and maximum temperature—to about 250°F/120°C. This is the equivalent of boiling water in an open pan at the bottom of a pit 19,000 feet/5,800 meters below sea level.

The pressure cooker was invented by the French physician Denis Papin in the 17th century.