The earliest version of a pressure cooker was created from cast iron in 1680 by Denis
Papin, a French physicist. It was called Papin’s Digester, a closed vessel with a tightly
fitting lid that with held the steam under pressure. It had a safety valve to protect against
an explosion due to pressure build-up. Papin’s device didn’t make it into the kitchen, as he
had hoped, but was used as an industrial sterilizer.
The term pressure cooker first appeared in print in 1915 when the first commercial
pressure cooker found it's way to the New York World's Fair in 1939. It was made by
National Presto Industries and was defined as a pot with a locking lid that creates within
it's vessel intense heat to cook foods in a shorter period of time than a conventional one.
After World's Fair, Papin’s invention found it's way into the American kitchen. Its popularity
grew during World War II because pressure cookers saved time and energy. However,
stories of pressure cookers that shook and hissed and exploded scared many users away
after they bought them.
Then, in the 1930s pressure cookers began to look more like other cookware. During the
war the US government wanted to encourage food preserving, so they supported the
manufacture and sales of pressure cookers to community canning centres so that cheap
cuts of meats and scraps could became edible.
After WWII, pressure cooker usage sank because of it's unpredictable nature. In 1947 the
invention of the Ekco Magic Knob locked the cover and gave it a hissing sound to tell you
when it started to cook making it easier to monitor time cooking, but still it was considered
too much danger and with the newer cooking methods like the easy to use electric crock
pot and the micro wave oven, pressure cookers almost disappeared.
But European and Asian manufacturers developed new valve systems, multiple safety
features and better pressure release methods. In the early 90's European manufacturers
opened up the American market with their improved cookers.
Today people in Europe and Asia continue to rely heavily on pressure cookers especially
in countries where the cost of fuel, natural gas, propane, and electricity is very high, so
pressure cookers have become a necessity in just about every home.
There has been a rise in pressure cooking in the United States since the digital age.
Along with advanced stoved top cookers they now have electric pressure cookers that
thermostatically get up to speed, then lower themselves under pressure and digital timers
and pre-set modes that automatically operate the cooker depending on what you are
cooking along with an auto shut off that keeps the food warm and all with advanced safety