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Nicholas Appert Issues the First Book on Modern Food Preservation Methods


In 1810 confectioner Nicholas Appert published in Paris L'art de conserver, pendant plusieurs années, toutes les substances animales et végétales.... In this small book Appert described the first workable process for canning foods, laying the foundation of the food-processing industry. Appert's method, which he began working on in 1795, involved sealing food hermetically in specially made glass jars, and then placing the jars containing the food in boiling water. Later he used an autoclave. Appert left air space at the top of the jar, and wrapped the sealed jar in canvas before boiling. It is thought that this method may have been used by homemakers before Appert, but Appert was the first to perform the process on an industrial scale. By providing the first reliable way to preserve many types of prepared foods for extended periods of time, Appert also developed a new way of furnishing potable, nourishing and unspoiled food to armies in the field. 

In 1800 Napoleon, who is widely quoted, accurately or not, as saying, "An army marches on its stomach," offered an award of 12,000 francs to anyone who could devise a practical method for food preservation for armies on the march. The award went to Appert, but since the method was considered to be of strategic importance for Napoleon's military campaigns, Appert was not allowed to publish it until 1810.

Appert's book was translated into English as The Art of Preserving All Kinds of Animal and Vegetable Substances for Several Years. A Work Published by Order of the French Minister of the Interior, On the Report of the Board of Arts and Manufactures. (London, 1811).


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