Home canning has been used as a safe means of food preservation for centuries
Many may not know this, but home canning as a way of food preservation dates back to the Napoleon War era starting in 1803. In a nutshell, Napoleon was losing the war on the front line because his men were without food – without food his men couldn’t sustain. “An army travels on its stomach,” Napoleon famously said. By the time fresh foods would make it to the front, it would be rotten and inedible leaving his men to pillage or purchase whatever the native country offered as a food source.
Napoleon put it to his people, through the Society for the Encouragement of Industry, whomever could find a way to preserve large quantities of foods to sustain their soldiers, this person would receive a 12,000 franc reward. Nicholas Appert, collected the prize, already knowing that food cooked within a glass jar would not spoil unless exposed to oxygen, hence the need for a good sealing lid. He developed this method of jar sealing not realizing just how necessary it would become.
Fast forward 50 years or so and Louis Pasteur discovered how time, temperature and acidic value played a vital role is protecting us from harmful microbes by outlining how to properly process foods. Today, we have a standardized method of safe canning practices of which water bathing and pressure canning play a vital role in giving our households a sustainable food source.
In 1958, John Landis Mason invented the metal screw-on lid used on jars for canning fruits and vegetables, hence the term used today, Mason Jars. That same year he also created the screw-on salt shaker.
Quality by Vision wrote a fun timeline chronicling this amazing craft throughout the centuries. It is fun to lean when various items were introduced to society such as when we started canning food for our military and when we actually started to commercially can food in America – all the while thousands of us steadfastly canning and home preserving in our home kitchens.
Home Canning in the 21st Century
Across the globe, fellow canners are sharing in the knowledge and craft of home canning and food preservation. Thankfully technology has expanded giving us safer practices and mechanisms for preserving low acid food. Take for instance pressure canners. In the last 3 decades alone we have seen a vast improvement in quality and safety of pressure canners. We can preserve meats, soups, stocks and meals in a jar much quicker and safer because we use pressure to increase the temperature during processing.
We have also seen a huge expansion of recipes taking us into the fun foodie and culinary world, a far cry from traditional, bland recipes merely meant to sustain. Foods such as Beef Burgundy, Chicken Pot Pie and a variety of sauces are now mainstays in our kitchen pantry all thanks to pressure canning. Chutney, shrubs and salsa have been expanded upon and are quite the highlight when water bathing. What I find exciting however are the many recipes still in circulation, passed down from generation to generation that still line our pantry shelves bringing a piece of history into our homes.
My all-time favorite is getting a group of people together and throwing a Canning Party. Talk about fun home canning practices in the 21st century! There is truth to the saying that, “many hands make light work”. Throwing a canning party at your home or renting a commercial kitchen is a great way to maximize the day’s yield in jars, save money on supplies and ingredients and create a rewarding experience surrounded by food and fellowship. Not to mention, it makes clean-up so much quicker and easier.
Take advantage of the rich history, food research, advancements in technology and start creating time-honored canning tradition of your very own this canning season~
Where ever you are in your canning and preserving journey, know you have centuries of tradition sealed in every jar. Be sure to check out my cookbook, Canning Full Circle if you are interested in learning ways to preserve delicious foods and how to cook with them. Have a Kindle? You may read it for free or purchase outright and start canning today!
Keep an eye-out this summer (July 2018) for my newest cookbook, The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning: Everything You Need to Know to Can Meats, Vegetables, Meals in a Jar, and More. More details will be shared in the upcoming months.
Diane, The Canning Diva