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HISTORY OF CANNING

Putting food in jars is a technique that has been around for more than 200 years!
 
Every culture, nearly every moment in time, involves a food preserving method of one type or more. To survive, humans had to store food. From harvest stage, food begins to spoil and food preserving methods ensured cultures had access to local food sources all year round, reducing the requirement for people to move around and they could settle into one area instead. Preserving was once essential to survival. Now it is a skill many choose to do, storing home-grown and locally sourced fresh produce.
  
1795:  Napoleon launched the French Preservation Prize (12,000 francs), looking for a solution to preserve food for the army to improve food nutrition (armies were subsisting on salted pork and minimal, if any at all, vegetables).
 
1809:  Nicolas Francois Appert, a French chef/confectioner/scientist comes up with food canning process where food is packed into glass jars with cork lids, sealed with wax and processed with boiling water. Appert publishes his book, L’Art de conserver, pendant plusieurs années, toutes les substances animales et végétales (The Art of Preserving All Kinds of Animal and Vegetable Substances for Several Years). Appert’s method meant jars were preserved however they were bulky in size to transport and could explode.
 
1810: Peter Durand (an English merchant), on behalf of French national Philippe de Girard (the original creator of this method), receives the first patent for preserving food in tin cans on August 25, 1810 by King George III. This patent specifies animal food, vegetable food (or other perishable items) is placed into glass, pottery or tin vessels, partially capped then heated via an oven, stove top (boiling water) or steam bath over a long period before fully sealing with cork, a screw on lid/rubber seal or cement.
 
1812: Peter Durand sells his patent to John Hall and Bryan Donkin for £1,000. Bryan Donkin (a civil engineer), John Hall (millwright, mechanical engineer) and John Gamble set up a canning factory in Blue Anchor Lane (Bermondsey, London). This is the first cannery to use tinned iron containers in Britain.
 
1813: Donkin and Hall serve canned beef (from a tin) to King George III and Queen Charlotte. They mass produce tinned food, including compiling large orders for British Army rations. Sometime after 1819, their canning company merged with Crosse & Blackwell (a modern British food brand which was acquired by Swisse Nestle in 1960).
 
1818: Peter Durand re-patents his British patent in the US, introducing tinned cans of food into the United States.
 
1820: canned food is marketed in Britain to the public.
 
1822: canned food begins to be marketed in the United States.
 
1846: first commercial cannery in Australia (unsuccessful until the 1860s)
 
1856: Gail Bordon invents tinned condensed milk.  This is an important note - milk was hard to keep fresh and was expensive to source in urban areas like New York.
 
1858: John Landis Mason invents the the metal screw-top mason jar on November 30 in the United States.
 
1860: Ezra J. Warner invents first can opener in the United States. Prior to this, a knife or a hammer/chisel had to be used to open tin cans.
 
1861-65: American Civil War led to more demand for canned food (including canned milk).
 
1863: Louis Pasteur discovers pasteurization process that explained why bacteria caused spoilage.
 
1871: Granite Ware, a company that creates lightweight water bath canners, is founded in Indiana, USA.
 
1884: Ball Corporation begins to manufacture glass jars for home canning.
 
1895: Samuel Cate Prescott and William Lyman Underwood, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that bacteria (that caused cans to swell) was killed by applying pressurised steam at 120°C for 10 minutes. The commercial canning industry changes as a result: pressure was added to the commercial canning process.
 
1900: Weck jars are invented/patented in Germany.
 
1909: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) makes first reference to “canning vegetables in the home”; then
 
1910: USDA makes first reference to “canning peaches on the farm” – both references used a multiple day method, where jars are boiled for 3 x one-hour periods (one hour per day, for 3 days in total).
 
1914-1918: World War I leads to increases in commercial tin can food production (and in home canning too). With help from the Ball Brothers Company, communal canning centres were established. Stove top pressure canners also became available during this time period.
 
1915: Alexander H. Kerr develops the two-part canning lid (this is the most common lid style still being used to this day).
 
1915: Joseph Fowler, an English migrant, in Hawthorn, Victoria (Australia) founds Fowlers Vacola preserving company and began selling stove top units (they required temperature monitoring over the hour of processing). FYI, this same company is still producing products to this day in Australia, including electric water bath units.

1920s: atmospheric steam canner initially developed as an alternative to the water bath canner (not recommended for home preserving until recently, after much research).
 
1939-1945: World War II. In the US, food rations for households and the front line are cut short. Canning reaches its peak in this time period, because households that canned also received extra pounds of sugar in return. As food rations lifted, incentives decreased, and home canning also decreased.
In Australia, Fowlers Vacola manufactured canned items for the Australian military.
 
2015: Jarden Home Brands launch electric water bath canner + multi-cooker, a countertop plug-in water bath canner - that could also be used as a multi-cooker for making soups, stews, etc.
 
CANNING NOW: Food is still being preserved in jars (and tins) today. With different lifestyles, family commitments, financial and land requirements, having a home garden and thus a harvest glut is not as common, but there are still many people canning worldwide in various countries and cultures. With the advancement in food technology, the food we can in jars can be lower in sugar, lower in salt, incorporating other spices/seasonings and safely preserved for our families to enjoy all year long (and to create resilience in our households too).
 
Author: Megan Radaich           
Image Credit: Megan Radaich            
Publication: www.foodpreserving.org

Acknowledgement 
Kaya Wanjoo. Food Preserving kaditj kalyakoorl moondang-ak kaaradj midi boodjar-ak nyininy, yakka wer waabiny, Noongar moort. Ngala kaditj baalap kalyakoorl nidja boodjar wer kep kaaradjiny, baalap moorditj nidja yaakiny-ak wer moorditj moort wer kaditj Birdiya wer yeyi.
Hello and Welcome. Food Preserving acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live, work and play, the Nyoongar people. We recognise their connection to the land and local waterways, their resilience and commitment to community and pay our respect to Elders past and present.
 
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