Monday, May 7, 2018

History of Canning

As we begin dying from the second we are born, food begins to spoil from the moment that it is harvested.  Food preservation has always been an issue for survival.

In the 1790's Nicolas Appert discovered like wine, if you put food into heated,  sealed glass bottles it would keep.  In the early 1800's the French Navy elevated his methods on a wide range of foods.
Louis Pasteur discovered the relationship between food spoilage and illness and Raymond Chevalier-Appert patented the first pressure cooker.  Although it is the year 2018, canning foods is a relatively new concept in food preservation.

Canning didn't catch on until the Great Depression into WWII.  There were places called canning centers that would pool resources for canning equipment and jars and set up in rural areas. Aluminum was scarce during the war and jars were expensive.

Statement from Harry S. Truman:

June 2, 1945

IN THIS FOURTH YEAR of war the need for every ounce of food which the American people
can produce and preserve is greater than ever before.

The supply lines to feed our troops and the millions fighting and working with them are the longest
in the history of warfare. Along the thousands of miles of these lines, food must be kept moving.
Our soldiers in Europe are eating more canned fruits and vegetables because they are changing
from combat rations to regular meals.

Beyond our tremendous military requirements lies the task of working with other nations to help
liberated peoples regain their strength and rebuild their countries. There can be no lasting peace in
a hungry world.

We Americans must do our part to help swell the nation's food supply.

I call upon every American to help discharge this obligation in every way possible:

By growing a victory garden--whether it be in the backyard, in a community or company employee
plot, or on the farm. There is still plenty of time to plant in most parts of the country.

By dedicating ourselves to growing larger and better gardens and seeing them through to the

By preserving our food at home or in a community canning center. Civilian supplies of
commercially canned fruits and vegetables are now at the lowest point of the war, and next winter
will be one-fourth less than last year.

By conserving food in every possible way--wasting not an ounce. In anything so hazardous and
difficult as growing food, we cannot afford to take chances. We must always reckon with the
weather, which in some parts of the country delayed plantings and damaged some fruit crops. We
must plan for maximum production.

With millions of American men and women dedicated to this task, our food will make a real
contribution to the final victory and the peace.

With that Victory Gardens and canning took off.  It was our patriotic duty.

Credit:  National Archives

Credit:  USDA

Canning was more popular in the northern states than the southern with it's shorter growing season.  The south soon caught on with relishes and chutneys and found they could can things normally put into the slop bucket. 

Pickled Watermelon Rind

2 lbs. watermelon rind
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. whole allspice
1 lemon sliced thin

Remove all pink portions of watermelon from rind.  Cut into 1 inch pieces and soak in water with 1/4 cup a salt per quart to cover.  Weigh cover and let sit overnight.  Rinse with clean water and drain.  Cook rind in water until tender.  Add spices to a pot with boiling water then add rind and cook until rind is clear.  Pack into hot sterilized jars with juice and seal. 

Directions are a little skimpy and considering how expensive sugar was at the time not very economical but it must have made the person canning this feel as if they were saving and contributing to the pantry.

Canning food has experienced a bit of a resurgence over the last 10 years as people want to learn a new skill and be more self-sufficient.  Gone are the times of being afraid of a pressure caner blowing up....ok, I was a little afraid of pressure canning, but with the modern tweak of a safety valve, it is a relatively safe endeavor.

Next up:  Water Bath Canning

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