Nicolas François Appert

Nicolas François Appert

Nicolas Appert (1749 - 1841), born in Châlons en Champagne was the French inventor of airtight food preservation. Appert, known as the "father of canning," was a confectioner.

In 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte offered a 12,000 franc reward to anyone who could devise a method for the food preservation in order to provide his troops with daily rations in order to keep his armies adequately supplied while on the march. After 14 or 15 years of experimentation, Appert submitted his invention and won the prize in 1810. The following year, Appert published "L'Art de conserver les substances animales et végétales" (or "The Art of Preserving Animal and Vegetable Substances for Many Years"). This was the first cookbook of its kind on modern food preservation methods.

The House of Appert became the first commercial cannery in the world. Remarkably, this was nearly 100 years before Louis Pasteur proved that heat killed bacteria. Appert patented his invention and established a business to preserve a variety of food in sealed bottles. Appert's method was as follows: He would fill thick, large-mouthed glass bottles with edibles of every description, ranging from beef, fowl, eggs, milk, and prepared dishes (according to sources, his largest success for publicity purposes was an entire mutton). Leaving enough air space at the top, the cork would then be sealed firmly in the jar by using a vise. The bottle was then wrapped in canvas to protect it, while it was dunked into boiling water and then boiled for as much time as Appert deemed appropriate for cooking the contents thoroughly.

In honour of Appert, canning is sometimes called "appertisation", but should be distinguished from pasteurization. Appert's early attempts at food preservation by boiling involves cooking the food to a temperature far in excess of what is used in pasteurization (70°C), and can destroy some of the flavour of the preserved food.

Appert's method was so simple and workable, that it quickly became widespread. In 1810, fellow Frenchman Pierre Durand (also known by his English name, Peter Durand) patented his own method, only this time, in a tin receptacle, thus creating the modern day process of canning foods. In 1812 Englishmen Bryan Donkin and John Hall purchased both patents and began producing preserves. Merely one decade later, the Appert model of canning had emigrated to America. Tin can mass production was however not common until the beginning of the 20th century.

Nicolas Appert Award

Every year since 1942, the Chicago Section of the Institute of Food Technologists gives the Nicholas Appert Award, recognizing lifetime and consistent achievement in food technology.

tudy Association

The Study Association of the Food Technology education at the Wageningen University, The Netherlands is called Nicolas Appert. Since 1972 this association focuses on improving the courses related to the Food Technology education and organises multiple events per year for students and alumni. Currently almost 300 students (BSc/MSc level) are member. In 2007 the association celebrated its 9th lustrum. [ The website of the association] is accessible in Dutch, English and some parts in the Chinese language.

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