For this blog I have chosen to focus on an invention called the pressure cooker.
For those of you who don’t know what a pressure cooker is, it’s an airtight pot which food can be cooked quickly under steam pressure. The origins of the pressure cooker start with a French physicist Denis Papin in 1679 who invented something called the steam digester, which was to get the fat out of the bones through steam pressure and make bones weak enough to grind into meal. From there in 1864, a man named Georg Gutbrod started making them out of cast iron, Jose Martinez patented the olla expres which means express cooking pot. Finally in 1938 Alfred Vischer invented the “Flex-Seal Speed Cooker” which was designed for home use. What the pressure cooker essentially does is it takes the braising liquid in the pot and uses the steam that comes off that to create pressure and increase the temperature above boiling creating a quicker way to braise things. One important note is that one the top of the air tight lid there is a release valve that removes the pressure and makes it safe to open.
The reason this falls into the category of technological innovation is because up until this point people had to do slow cook or braise item the long way in the oven or on the stove. By introducing steam pressure it cut down on the amount of time it took to braise something dramatically. Papin found a away to utilize what was already being created in the pot (steam from the liquid) in a way to change the way people could go about the method of braising or slow cooking meats.
Papin was looking for a way to speed up the cooking process of these bones, with this back round as a physicist and more specifically steam he came up with the idea of utilizing it. By using the steam he realized you can increase the temperature of the liquid beyond boiling and thus cooking the meat or vegetables faster with the very similar results. The reason why this is so important is not just because of how quickly things cook inside a pressure cooker and how that frees up time but one of the other uses. The pressure cooker idea on a larger scale helps with canning it ensure that when they are sealing the cans or jars that its sterilized and free from any of the bacteria that might get into the jars/cans. That might be the most important use of a pressure cooker in my opinion making sure people aren’t getting sick.
How has the pressure cooker affected me? Well professionally I haven’y used it once, but in my personal life I use it for several different things. Firstly i use it for any type of meat that i am trying to get tender, for example instead of boiling ribs for an hour/ hour an half, I pop them into the pressure cooker to reduce that time. Even when I’m making mash potatoes I toss them in with some water and it reduces the cook time dramatically. I can even see this tool being helpful in many kitchens who have a small kitchens with limited equipment do to its rather minimal cost.
Cooking under pressure. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2016, from http://www.oldandinteresting.com/pressure-cooker-history.aspx
Discover Pressure Cooking: History. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2016, from http://discoverpressurecooking.com/history.html
Pressure cooker. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2016, from http://www.britannica.com/topic/pressure-cooker