Nicolas Appert was a confectioner and chef in Paris from 1784 to 1795. He had great skill with foods and was also familiar with brewing and distillation. He set up a small kitchen in the back of his shop and decided to answer the challenge. For ten years he labored patiently with different foods, cooking them in different ways and trying to preserve them. There was no scientific papers that Nicolas Appert could draw upon in his food experiments as bacteria would be discovered by Louis Pasteur fifty years later.
After many experiments Appert concluded that air was the cause of food spoilage and he tried to remove as much of it as possible. Neither glass jars nor metal cans were around yet and Nicolas Appert had to use bottles. Those being narrow were ill suited to fill with food so Nicolas designed his own wide mouth bottles, which looked like glass bottles that were used for daily milk deliveries later on. A cork was used to seal the bottle. It took Appert fifteen years to perfect his method and after many experiments he arrived at the correct times for many foods. The method he developed does not vary from our present canning techniques, the difference being mainly in equipment and a better understanding of the process that we possess today.
After fifteen years of experimenting and sending his canned products all over the world for testing, Appert presented his notes to the French government. On January 30, 1810, the Minister of Interior informed Appert that after careful examination of his process the prize money is awarded to him. His findings were compiled in a little book called ìLíArt De Conserverî – “The Book for All Households or the Art of Preserving Animal and Vegetable Substances for Many Years”. A new word “appertization” became synonymous with processing foods using a hot water bath. In his process Appert used large quantities of sugar, salt and vinegar as preserving agents. It should be emphasized that although Appert has invented the canning method, the cause of spoilage of food was still a mystery. Canning was more of a curiosity topic for scientists than a practical invention for the general public. Many scientists of the day tried to explain his process without much success. The best conclusion was that air combined with food in a sealed bottle and in some mysterious fashion this magical combination prevented the spoilage of foods.