Pressure cookers heat food quickly because the internal steam pressure from the boiling liquid causes saturated steam to bombard and permeate the food. Thus, higher temperature water vapour, which transfers heat more rapidly compared to dry air, cooks food very quickly.
Pressure cooking allows food to be cooked with greater humidity and higher temperatures than possible with conventional boiling or steaming methods. In an ordinary non-pressurised cooking vessel, the boiling point of water is 100 °C at standard pressure; the temperature of food is limited by the boiling point of water because excess heat causes boiling water to vaporize into steam. In a sealed pressure cooker, the boiling point of water increases as the pressure rises, resulting in superheated water. At a pressure of 15 psi above the existing atmospheric pressure, water in a pressure cooker can reach a temperature of up to 121 °C, depending on altitude.
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