What is now known as the Canning Industry commenced on the 30th January, 1810, when Montalivet, the French Minister of the Interior, wrote to Francois Appert and informed him that hisAppert'snew process for preserving foods was assured of success and thereby granting to the process the official recognition of the French Government. Official recognition also carried with it a money grant of twelve thousand francsabout 500 in those daysAppert won this prize on the principle of Delhi taken and India saved for one rupee eight annasand died in the year 1841 a comparatively poor man and the founder of one of the world's greatest industries. As a result of the warlike operations in which it had been engaged, multitudes of sick and wounded were thrown on the hands of the French Government, and scurvy was terribly prevalent in the fleets. Hence the French Government gave a public notice that it would award a prize to anyone who should discover a cheap and satisfactory method of preserving foodstuffs, without either drying or pickling, so that they could be kept for a long period and still retain the natural flavour and other characteristics of the fresh product. Appert had worked at and perfected his process during the preceding ten or fifteen years and had thoroughly assured himself of its practicability. He was therefore well prepared to demonstrate the details before the Board of Arts and Manufactures of which Board Gay Lussac had been a member since the year 1805. The report of this body to the Minister of the Interior was entirely favourable, as was also that of General Caffarelli, the Maritime Prefect of Brest. Caffarelli had found that soups and vegetables prepared by Appert's process had retained their goodness after three months' bottling, and he had been able to supply what seemed to the diners to be fresh vegetables in midwinter. It need hardly be said that Appert's process for preserving foods is the one in use now. Appert, however, knew nothing of the principles on which his process depended, nor did anyone else at that time. He supposed putrefaction to be due to the action of the air alone. In this view he was supported by the great authority of Gay Lussac who, it will be remembered, imagined atmospheric oxygen to be the cause. Appert at the request of the Minister of the Interior wrote a short book on the subjecta practical treatise explaining the methods of preserving animal and vegetable substances. This book was almost at once translated into several languages. It would seem that one of the chief advantages that Appert hoped the French people would gain by his invention was the saving of sugar. Up to that time the only means of preserving fruit other than by drying was to immerse the fruit in strong syrup made with cane sugar, and sugar was almost impossible to obtain in France at that time owing to war conditions. He also says that the French Government wished to draw the utmost advantage from the productions of our soil in order to develop our agriculture and manufactures, and to diminish the consumption of foreign commodities This is exactly what we in this country are trying to do now in the building up of a trade in canned food, a hundred and twenty years later. The English translator of Appert's work complacently observes
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 1, 1932
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