1795 -
Nicolas Appert, The Father of Modern Canning
 

NAL - Appert crop.jpg

       Nicolas Appert (1750-1841), created the process modern canners use in the late eighteenth century.  He was an early food scientist, although he did not use that term.  He was a chef and confectioner born in Châlons-sur-Marne about 108 miles northwest of Paris.  He learned his trade on the job and became such a skilled cook that French royalty hired him to cook in their kitchens.  In 1781, when he was 31, he opened his own confectionary business in Paris and began his quest for perfectly preserving food.  At the time, there were not reliable processes for preserving food, and he wanted to make preserved food that tasted good and would not make a person sick after eating it.Confectionary.png

     Appert began experimenting with putting food in champagne bottles standing them in hot water.  This process did not work well, and he kept experimenting and learning all he could about the preserving food in jars. It took him decades to perfect the process of canning in jars.  While he was working on preserving food, the problems that led to the French Revolution were causing political turmoil and riots in Paris.  He moved to the countryside and continued to work.  He was able to set up workshops to expand his experiments, demand cleanliness, and use the best ingredients.          

     He worked through the French Revolution and into the Napoleonic wars.  The expansive military activity of the French army required tons of food and the military was very interested in Appert’s work.  In 1810, he finally published L’Art de conserver and took a cash payment of 12,000 francs from the French government for the results of his work.  While other people may have used parts of Appert’s theories and canned food in jars, no one else had published their work.       Modern Canning Began in France.png

     Appert’s method allowed food to be preserved more closely to its original state, but the jars Appert used were still fragile and expensive. In 1810, British industrialist Peter Durand began using tin cans with Appert’s process. The combination drastically increased the possibilities for canned food markets because tinned food was so much easier to transport and store.  Given that Britain was the birthplace of industrialization and a great seafaring nation, it was a logical step for British manufacturers to take.  The birth of canned food was a combination of science and entrepreneurship that provided food for many displaced people across the world for decades.

 

 

NAL - Appert's book.jpg

  A digital copy of this book is available at archive.org

 

Sources

Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. Edited by Tom Jaine. 3rd Edition ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Shephard, Sue. Pickled, Potted, and Canned: How the Art and Science of Food Preserving Changed the World. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.