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National Canning Day

National Canning Day celebrates canning as well as Nicolas Appert, the father of canning, who was born on today's date in 1752. In 1795, the French government, while under the leadership of Napoleon, offered a 12,000 franc prize to anyone who could come up with a way to preserve food so that it could easily be transported. This became a necessity because the French army was having trouble preserving food during Napoleon's campaigns.

Appert was a French chef, confectioner, and distiller who experimented with ways to preserve food and eventually came up with a way to heat it and seal it in airtight glass containers. He was able to use this method to preserve vegetables, soups, jellies, jams, juices, syrups, and dairy products. He originally used champagne bottles but switched to widemouth jars, and years later used tin-plated metal cans. Appert formed La Maison Appert in 1804, the first commercial cannery company, which would stay in business until 1933.

In 1806, the French navy took Appert's preserved foods on sea voyages that were longer than a year and found they were still edible after that time. Appert received the 12,000 franc prize in 1809, and then published his preservation process with the The Art of Preserving All Kinds of Animal and Vegetable Substances for Several Years the following year, and also patented his invention. He used his prize money to invest in La Maison Appert. France gave him the Benefactor of Humanity award in 1812. Before passing away in 1841, he also created the bouillon cube and peppermint schnapps.

The canning process is a heating process that removes oxygen and enzymes that would make food spoil. The heat sterilizes and makes it airtight. If a jar is sealed well, it's not as easy for bacteria, molds, and yeasts to grow. The name of the process is not referring to the type of container that is used, since glass jars are usually used, not cans. There are specific steps that must be followed and equipment that must be used. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends a boiling water canner or pressure canner. The acidity of the foods determines which one is used. Low-acid foods like meat and plain vegetables need a pressure canner, while higher-acid foods like fruit and pickling vegetables need a boiling water canner.

Some foods commonly canned include cucumbers to make pickles, tomatoes that can be used later to make sauce, and fruit to make jams. For most people who live in the United States and Canada, peak canning season has passed by October 23, the date of National Canning Day. Nonetheless, the day is spent canning and celebrating Nicolas Appert!

How to Observe National Canning Day

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