Home > History of Canning
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte seeks out inventors who could present a cost effective and practical method for preserving foods for long periods of time. Having the convenience to store, transport and prevent goods from spoiling was a prized concept to the soldiers of the Napoleonic Wars. He offered a cash prize to anyone who could provide a solution, encouraging many to participate.
Chef Nicolas Appert presents a food preservation process he had been developing for several years. His method involved sealing food in glass jars with a cork and wax and boiling them in water. His idea was awarded by the French Ministry of the Interior and his findings published in “The Art of Preserving Animal and Vegetable Substances”.
That same year, London-based Philippe de Girard presents a similar method of preservation to the Royal Society. Instead of using glass jars, his concept involved tin cans. He is often referred to as the uncredited inventor of canning. Girard called upon Peter Durand to sell a patent for his idea to King George III. This technique was then utilized and would later be improved upon even further.
The inevitable spread of ideas caused the introduction of canning into America. The United States' very first canning factory was opened in New York City by Robert Ayars. Preserved food remained a highly sought out commodity during World War I.
John Landis Mason introduced glass jars with screw on caps that created a seal with rubber instead of wax. The convenience of simplifying the sealing process made the mason jar a popular choice for home canning. Mason jars and home-canning equipment would later be popularized by corporations such as Ball® and Knerr® for many years to come.
Although both industrial and at-home canning had been utilized for many years, it wasn't until 1864 that chemist Louis Pasteur discovered just why this method works so effectively: the boiling process. He devised that boiling kills bacteria and microorganisms, creating a sterile environment, thereby preserving the food. Pasteur is renown for his studies in sterilization as well as the discovery of pasteurization and fermentation of food and drinks.
Max Ams and partner Julius Brenzinger work together to develop improvements of tin cans. Their invention of the double seam or "sanitary can" eliminated the need for soldering metal, while providing a better, more effecient seal. The reception of this development was not immediate in its experimental stages. However, manufacturers soon became acclimated to the new technique, as it would dominate the industry in the 1900s and beyond.
Preserving food and drinks in both metal and glass containers is still a widely used practice in the present day. Technology and automation has come a long way since the dawn of it's creation... but the simple, tried and true process of canning is still done by hand by many enthusiasts across the world, including us!