The Can Making History

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In 1795 the French Directory offered 12,000 francs to anyone who could make possible a new effective system to preserve food. Appert, an obscure Parisian who had worked in different occupations as a candy maker, chef or brewer had a brilliant idea: Why not pack food in bottles like wine ? Then, for the next 15 years, he was working on his idea to finally get a the theory which if food is sealed in an airtight container and the air inside is extracted and with sufficient heat, the food will probably preserve. To get to this he previously partially cooked food, sealed it in bottles with cork stoppers and immersed the bottles in boiling water.

Appert’s theory was tested by the samples he made. Whether or not Napoleon had learned through hard experience that the soldier´s stomachs can´t be empty to win a battle. Scurvy and hunger had disabled more of Napoleon’s soldiers than combat itself. Then Appert’s samples were sent to a travel sea for some months and when opened, different kinds of preserved foods were tasted and as Appert wrote, “Everyone of which had retained its freshness, and not a single substance had undergone the least change at sea.” Finally Appert was awarded the 12,000 francs by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Consequently The British responded directly to this development so, a man called Peter Durand was granted a patent by King George III of England for his project of preserving food in vessels of glass, pottery, tin or other metals. Curiously Durand himself didn´t canning anything but two other Englishmen, Bryan Donkin and John Hall, used Durand’s patent to experiment for more than a year to finally set up a commercial canning factory and by 1813 sent tins of food to British army and navy authorities for testing.

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