From Steam Digester to Instant Pot Cooker: The History of Pressure Cooking

From Steam Digester to Instant Pot Cooker: The History of Pressure Cooking

Pressure cooking has been a big help in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. Michelin starred chefs, regular cooks, street vendors or plain housewives all over the world are using the pressure cooker. It has been used in favorite television shows like Great British Bake-Off MasterChef or Iron Chef. Kitchen all over the world won’t be complete without stove top or electronic pressure cooker. For many, pressure cooking is an efficient method and it seems it is a new cooking style, but it dates back to the 17th century. If you are curious about how instant pot cooker became mainstream, we’ve compiled a guide on how the pressure cooker started. While it is a very old way of cooking, it is very dependable and useful in the kitchen.

The beginning: Dennis Papin Era

Dennis Papin, a French physicist, is credited with making the first pressure cooker in 1679 when he made the first prototype called “Steam Digester.” It is an airtight cooking pot that boils the water until it became steam and produces pressure. The pressure makes the food cooks faster and better. Papin’s contraption did not go well with the public since it is not very safe to use not until the 18th century, when Nicolas Appert, an inventor developed a canning process that uses steam. The discovery made by Appert helped develop the art of pressure cooking.

The development of the pressure cooker became the talk of the town for over the next century. Manufacturers all over the world created a different variation of the contraption, most of it is for industrial use with large pots. They are impractical for commercial use.

New York World Fair of 1939

Commercial use of pressurized steam took a great leap when Alfred Vischler, a German scientist and innovator introduced “Flex-Seal Speed Cooker” during the New York World Fair. Although the name pressure cooker has been around since 1915, Alfred Vischler’s contraption is the first product that uses the name pressure cooker in a commercially safe product. It captures everyone’s attention, but it was “Presto” who catapulted the pressure cooker into the mainstream.

During World War 2, the development of pressure cooker takes a back seat because Europe and the United States stopped manufacturing cookers and focused all their manufacturing resources on making bullets, warplanes, guns, ships and other war items. After the war, the pressure cooker market exploded. During this time, at least a hundred different models are being made and sold around the world and at least 20 manufacturers around the world. Because of the pressure cooker’s reputation for preserving nutrients and vitamins of the ingredients and the cooking time they can save when using pressure cooking compared to traditional cooking it became an instant hit with the public.

The Golden Age

Because of the development of food preparation and the introduction of pre-packed frozen food means that the trend in global eating habit was also changing. It takes a few years before Europe follows the United States’ lead as people in the UK and the majority of Europe uses their leftover appliances from the war because it takes longer for Europe to recover after the war compared to the United States. At this time, the world is entering the golden age of kitchen appliances. It is not until the 60s and 70s, which saw an increased in people wanting to live and eat healthily, that gave pressure cooking its popularity globally once again. This time Europe and Asia keep up with the United States in using pressure cookers.

(To know more about pressure cooking in the 60s, visit

The Nineties

There’s a saying, “Everything is better in the nineties.” Cable television and the increase in popularity of cooking shows, gave way for kitchen appliances to reach its peak in popularity. Digital pressure cookers have become very popular, and everyone has become enamored with it like their parents before them. It is not uncommon to see celebrity chefs like Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsey, Anthony Bourdain or Marco Pierre White uses pressure cookers in their famous television shows.

Digital age

The most recent development in pressure cooker’s rich history is the advent of digital or instant pot cooker. Different models are sprouting like mushrooms in the market, digital pressure cookers that don’t eat up space or electric pressure cookers that do almost everything, from pressure cooking, braising, making soup, to pressure frying and steaming. The first digital pressure cooker became available in the market in the 90s, and since then it has become a staple in both professional and domestic kitchen.


Comments are closed.