Food preservation is the process or science of treating food in order to stop it from spoiling, for the purpose of prolonging its storage life. Today, there are many methods used in preserving food such as Drying, Smoking, Refrigeration, Freezing, using salt and sugar, Pasteurization, Canning, etc. While it is generally accepted and considered extremely normal today, the concept of food preservation was really born out of necessity. Historically, it traces its roots as far back as 1795 when the French Army and Navy, who at that time were engaged in numerous foreign wars, required an effective method of preserving their food in order to feed their vast army. It was such an important matter that there was even a prize prepared for whoever could accomplish the task. Unfortunately, the answer to this riddle would come only after 14 years when a Frenchman by the name of Nicolas Appert proposed that, in order to prolong the life span of food, it must be placed inside an airtight container. To achieve this, he placed the food inside glass jars and heated them to drive the air out and sealed it off by placing corks as the cover. This seemed to do the trick which led him to collect 12,000 Francs from Napoleon himself- and was then made responsible for supplying the French Navy with its food requirements.
The following year (1810), an Englishman by the name of Peter Durand had a slight variation from Appert’s method when, instead of glass jars, he used metal cans to seal in the food. One of the earlier problems he encountered with this method, however, was that it proved to be too costly as only less than a hundred could be made in a day. By comparison, today’s modern canning factories produce as much as 300 canned products per minute.
It was in 1857 when a breakthrough occurred that would dramatically affect the food preservation method as it was practiced then. This was the time when Louis Pasteur made the discovery that the presence of bacteria in food was the one responsible for it getting spoilt, rather than the presence of air. This was extremely significant as it expanded the ways by which food can be preserved and placed verifiable science at the center of the process. From then on, the industry grew by leaps and bounds. During the American Civil War (around 1861), it was reported that approximately five million cans of food were manufactured each year in order to feed their large armies. It was also during this period, specifically in 1860, when one of the wealthiest and most recognizable American tycoons started his business by bottling horseradish, which he differentiated, by placing them in clear glass jars instead of green, which was the norm at that time. This man was Henry John Heinz, and today, his company is still considered one of the biggest players in the industry.