Appert, Nicolas

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b. 1749 Châlons-sur-Marne, France d. 1841
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French confectioner who invented canning as a method of food preservation.
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As the son of an inn keeper, Nicolas Appert would have learned about pickling and brewing, but he chose to become a chef and confectioner, establishing himself in the rue des Lombards in Paris in 1780. He prospered there until about 1795, and in that year he began experimenting in ways to preserve foodstuffs, succeeding with soups, vegetables, juices, dairy products, jellies, jams and syrups. His method was to place food in glass jars, seal the jars with cork and sealing wax, then sterilize them by immersion in boiling water for a predetermined time.
In 1810 the French Government offered a 12,000 franc award to anyone succeeding in preserving high-quality foodstuffs for its army and navy. Appert won the award and in 1812 used the money to open the world's first food-bottling factory, La Maison Appert, in the town of Massey, near Paris. He established agents in all the major sea ports, recognizing the marine market as his most likely customer, and supplied products to Napoleon's troops in the field. By 1820 Appert's method was in use all over the United States, in spite of the simultaneous development of other containers of tin or other metals by an English merchant, Peter Durand, and the production of canned food products by the Bermondsey firm of Donkin \& Hall, London. The latter had opened the first canning factory in England in 1811.
Initially Appert used glass jars and bottles, but in 1822 he changed to tin-plated metal cans. To heat the cans he used an autoclave, which heated the water to a temperature higher than its boiling point. A hammer and chisel were needed to open cans until the invention of a can opener by an Englishman named Yates in 1855. Despite Appert's successes, he received little financial reward and died in poverty; he was buried in a common grave.
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Bibliography
1810, L'Art de conserver pendant plusieurs années toutes les sustenances animales et végétales (the Société d'Encouragement pour l'Industrie Nationale produced a report in its annual bulletin in 1809).
Further Reading
English historians have tended to concentrate on Bryan Donkin, who established tin cans as the primary container for long-term food preservation.
J.Potin, 1891, Biographie de Nicolas Appert.
1960, Canning and Packing 2–5.
AP

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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