What is Electric Pressure Cooker

History of Pressure Cooker

Pressure cooking is a method of cooking in a sealed vessel not permitting steam to escape below a preset pressure. Because the boiling point of water increases as the pressure increases, the pressure built up inside the cooker allows the liquid in the cooking pot to rise to a higher temperature before boiling.

papin 150x150 What is Electric Pressure Cooker

Denis Papin (1647 – 1712)

Pressure cooker was invented by Denis Papin, a French physicist, in 1679. However, it only became a house-hold cooking appliance during the World War II, when the people realized how much fuel they can save, due to the much shorter cooking time. Pressure cooking is often used to simulate the effects of long braising or simmering in shorter periods of time.

The Invention of Electric Pressure Cooker

Conventional pressure cookers were made to be used on stove top. A steam regulator, safety valve and pressure-activated interlock mechanism provide protection against the overheating and the danger of explosion. When a preset pressure is reached in the cooker, the steam regulator is pushed up by the built-up pressure to allow the steam to escape. This is the reason why the conventional oven top pressure cookers generate loud and disturbing hissing noise when the pressure is on.

Electric Pressure Cooker is an ingenious invention in the last decade. Historians are still undecided about inventors and the precision time. Arguably, a Chinese scientist, Mr. Yong-Guang Wang, filed the first electric pressure cooker patent on January 9th, 1991 (patent No. ZL91100026.7).  This patent is currently owned by the No. 1 electric pressure cooker manufacturer, Midea Group.

Instant Pot electric pressure cooker internal structure

Instant Pot electric pressure cooker internal structure

Electric Pressure Cooker consists of a pressure cooking container (a.k.a. inner pot or cooking pot), the electric heating element, and temperature / pressure sensors. The heating process is  controlled by the built-in micro-processor based on the readings of the pressure and temperature sensors. This whole process forms a so called “closed loop control system” in control engineering terms.  The principle is similar to that of the auto-cruise in most of the cars these days. The user puts all the ingredients in the cooking pot and sets the pressure cooking duration for the type of food to be cooked, the electric pressure cooker does the rest.

Over time, the leading electric pressure cookers learned from the experience and created different cooking profiles, such as simmering, steaming, braising, slow cooking, warming, rice cooking, stew, etc. by using different combination of cooking temperature, pressure and time duration. This leads to a new generation of electric pressure cookers, a.k.a. programmable multi-cookers.

Read about how electric pressure cooker works here.

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