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The World of Food: The Internet Cookbook - Q&A, Articles, and Interesting Facts

When did people start putting food in cans? - The History of Canning

War time creates invention? In the late 18th century Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, concerned about keeping his armies fed, offered a cash prize to whoever could develop a reliable method of food preservation. The canning process dates back to France when Nicholas Appert conceived the idea of preserving food in bottles, like wine. After 15 years of experimentation, he realized if food is sufficiently heated and sealed in an airtight container, it will not spoil.

An Englishman, Peter Durand, took the process one step farther and developed a method of sealing food into unbreakable tin containers, which was perfected by Bryan Dorkin and John Hall, who set up the first commercial canning factory in England in 1813. As more and more of the world was explored, and as provisioning armies took on greater importance, the demand for canned foods grew.

In 1812, Thomas Kensett, who emigrated to the United States, established the first U.S. canning facility for oysters, meats, fruits and vegetables.

The basic principles of canning have not changed dramatically since its beginning. Heat sufficient to destroy microorganisms is applied to foods packed into sealed, or "airtight" containers. The canned foods are then heated under steam pressure at temperatures of 240-250 degrees. The amount of time needed for processing is different for each food, depending on the food's acidity, density and ability to transfer heat.

During World War II, many varieties and innovations occurred to bring food to fighting troops. Spam became the favorite among American G.I.s.

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