Did you know that Nicolas Appert was born today in 1749? He was a French chef and also known as the “Father of Canning”. In 1795, Nicolas Appert started experimenting with methods of preserving food. He found that he could preserve food by placing food in a clean glass jar, heating the jar of food in boiling water, and then sealing the jar with a cork and wax. Nicolas Appert did not know this at the time, but the heating process killed the bacteria and sterilized the food. Nicolas Appert’s technique, which was easy and effective, quickly spread through the world.
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In the 1800’s Napoleon’s government offered a prize of 12,000 francs for a new method of preserving food. One of the major hurdles facing Napoleon’s armies was providing an adequate supply of food. The seasonal flux of food availability in the warmer months limited his military’s ability to fight during winter months, when food was scarce. In 1806, Nicolas Appert presented a selection of bottled fruits and vegetables.
Nicolas Appert successfully preserved fruits, vegetables, soups, jellies and jams, dairy products, meat products, and more.
Sometimes canning is called ‘appertisation’ in honor of Nicolas Appert.
La Maison Appert, located in the town of Massy, became the first food bottling factory in the world. His factory was destroyed by allied forces during the Napoleonic Wars, but his techniques for preserving food had spread to the rest of Europe and England where others experimented with other containers, such as tin cans, to preserve food.
It would be years before people understood why canning worked to preserve food. It wasn’t until 1864 when Louis Pasteur discovered the link between heat and killing the microbes present in food to prevent foods from spoiling, that people understood how canning worked and how they could improve canning processes to make canned foods more nutritious and appealing.
Nicholas Appert was also a confectioner, or someone who made sweet foods such as candies or sweet baked goods.