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Chemistry in the Kitchen

Introduction

How does a pressure cooker speed up cooking?

If the lower atmospheric pressure in Denver increased cooking times by lowering the boiling point of water, what if we could increase the boiling point of water? That’s exactly what a pressure cooker does. Pressure cookers are sealed such that once you start to heat water, the pressure inside the vessel increases. This increase in pressure drives up the boiling point of water because every water molecule that tries to make the transition from water to liquid has a greater force pushing against it. By increasing the pressure inside the pot, pressure cookers can get the boiling point of water up to about 120 °C (250 °F). With water boiling at a higher temperature, your food cooks faster.



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