Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Canning was a cause for wonder when it was invented by Nicolas Appert around 1810: contemporaries said that it preserved fruits and vegetables almost as if fresh! True, it preserves them without the desiccated texture of drying, the salt and sourness of fermentation, or the sweetness of sugar preserves; but there’s no mistaking that canned foods have been cooked. Canning is essentially the heating of food that has been isolated in hermetically sealed containers. The heat deactivates plant enzymes and destroys harmful microbes, and the tight seal prevents recontamination by microbes in the environment. The food can then be stored at room temperature without spoiling.