- In the 1800s, imperial expansion and ocean exploration required reliably preserved food.
- A candy maker was awarded 12,000 francs for a method of filling glass jars with food, heating them and sealing them.
- Bottles were heavy and easily broken, so they were quickly replaced by canned goods.
In 1815, explorer and botanist Sir Joseph Banks wrote a letter to a canned food manufacturer praising the canned two-year-old veal he had just eaten.
He called canned food “one of the most important discoveries of our time.” They also asked for concentrated consumables, as they were more delicious than the soups they usually eat “at home and abroad.”
At the time, commercially available canned food was virtually new and about the same age as the veal in the bank.
Finding reliable means of preserving food was essential for colonizing and warring nations. This included France under Napoleon Bonaparte.
Exploration of food preservation methods
Napoleon witnessed the effects of hunger and thirst when he led his army through the brutal heat of Egypt in 1798.
When Napoleon came to power in France, he promoted doctors and scientists to positions of power to solve problems like this.
These men then formed an organization that “supported research into food preparation and preservation that could benefit the French army and navy,” according to historian Jennifer J. Davis, “a culinary authority. It is written in “Definition of
In 1809, one such organization, the Société d’encouragement pour l’industrie Nationale, held a contest to find ways to preserve food.
Nicolas Appert, who has been sealing food in cork bottles for several years and had been experimenting with heating and bottling food for more than 10 years, was awarded the prize.
Food preservation using the Apert method
Mr. Appert has been involved in the food industry since childhood. His father was an innkeeper and brewery owner who worked in a distillery and wine cellar before opening his own confectionery shop.
The heating process required to make candy and the bottling process for wine and beer may have influenced the way he preserved his food. He described himself as having been brought up in “the art of preparation and preservation” and had “lived, so to speak, in pantries, breweries, warehouses and champagne cellars.”
In 1795, he began experimenting with preserving different foods. He used empty champagne bottles and later specialized glass containers. After sealing, I boiled the entire bottle and its contents in a double boiler.
Appert wasn’t sure exactly why his method worked, but he believed that limiting contact with the air and limiting the heat of the water were “both essential.” He was right on both counts.
In addition to bottling vegetables and fruits such as asparagus, cauliflower, peaches and cherries, Mr. Appert partially cooked some dishes before bottling and heating. He made a béchamel sauce with seasoned eel, lamb tongue, gravy, and egg.
He tested different times and temperatures for heating different dishes to ensure that the food retained the proper color, aroma, and taste. Many products, such as beef jelly, which only requires 15 minutes of heating, will not pass food safety tests.
Each jar of jam could cost a day’s wages. Those with money could open a can in the middle of winter (which was actually quite a chore until the invention of the can opener decades later) and enjoy nearly fresh green vegetables. Ta.
Why Apert’s method did not become popular
In 1810, the French Ministry of the Interior paid Mr. Appert 12,000 francs to print an explanation of the conservation process “in order to spread knowledge.” His book “Techniques for preserving animal and vegetable substances for several years” sold several thousand copies.
According to one paper, “Mr. Appert has discovered a way to modify the seasons.” The author of Elite Cookbook praised his process.
Folklorist Danil Ellis Christensen points out that the “sugarless boiling procedure” appeared in cookbooks written by women as early as the 1680s. “The story, which focuses on the apartment while ignoring the likes of Mary Mott and Sarah Martin, values ’science’ over ‘domestic’ knowledge,” Christensen wrote.
Appert was able to expand his skills, at one point employing 50 cooks to help make the preserved foods.
Other processes, including drying and using salt and sugar to preserve food, persisted even after Appert published his book. Davis said his method “was not widely used on either a scientific or industrial level” outside of his own factory.
The French Navy had tested his preserves before Appert wrote his book, but his fragile glass bottles were impractical for seafaring. Within a few years, another Frenchman, Philippe de Girard, went to London and, through his intermediaries, patented the tin can idea.
From glass bottles to tin cans
Brian Donkin bought this patent for £1,000 and it was he and his partner who made it to Consumer Banks’ great amusement. The cans could weigh as much as 20 pounds, but were harder than a bottle of Apert.
The industry quickly began to expand. By the 1820s, there were several canneries in the United States, and in 1825 the first tin can was patented in the United States.
This was decades before Louis Pasteur developed pasteurization and recognized that bacteria were the cause of contamination. His technique significantly reduced the number of bacteria without completely sterilizing the food, meaning killing everything.
Botulism is called the “disease of civilization.” Sausage and smoked ham have both caused deadly outbreaks. Improperly canned food can also harbor bacteria.
This is one of the many reasons why commercial canned foods have waxed and waned in popularity over the centuries since Appert’s first experiments.
Despite early success, Appert was struggling with debt. When threatened with eviction late in his life, he wrote to the Home Office: “I have given my life to science and humanity, and you are taking away the premises that I thought should be mine.” Ta.
Davis said he was kicked out of the laboratory in 1824, but the Restoration government eventually paid him 4,000 francs a year for 10 years “in recognition of his service to the nation.”
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