Cadet Steven Seay
Dr. Clifford A. Kiracofe, Jr
The preservation of food has been around for thousands of years, but until the Industrial Revolution the techniques of preservation were basic and traditional, only using the environment and resources available. The discovery of canning food allowed for the transportation and mass storage of vegetables and meat. Over time, the process of preserving food became about maintaining the products nutrition and taste. There is no precise origin of which preservation techniques were put into practice, but Industrial Revolution was a great beginning. The preservation of food was done for two reasons, preservers either desired the profitable foods such as fish, meat, and other foods of mass appeal, or they were concerned about the long term conservation of their food. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, preserves were made out of fruits, flowers and other foods that were prepared in combination with sugar to produce a paste that was flavorful, sweet, and colored. In 1810, a new method from Nicolas Appert arose, placing jars sealed with food in a hot-water bath. He practiced this with vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy, and fish and when consumed, the food tasted fresh with a flavor similar the original. This method was not commonly known but according to Andre Viard in his book Le Cuisinier Imperial, it was known among professional chefs prior to being revealed.
Food preservation became a technique used by professional and domestic cooks that allowed them to further their profits while also making their jobs easier. Increased profits were done through leveling the amount of preserved food that was held and the lowering cost of transporting it. Eventually, foods never went “out of season” and no food was unaffordable to the general population. Some foods such as beans, peas, and artichoke hearts were offered year round due to popular demand. In order to expand the market, industries were forced to try new techniques, lower prices, and use new additives to preserve the taste and appearance of the food despite laws and regulations. Professional chefs and food factories continued to separate, factory owners felt that factories were second to the kitchen and would export foods beyond European borders. Chefs felt that food should always be fresh and prepared only when at their prime.
There were setbacks to food including the time of the year to harvest, labor costs, how long it is available for, and seasonal boundaries. High class food, even in modern day society, is not solely about the taste, but also the presentation and scent which allows for foods to remain acceptable even if the taste is slightly worse.
Food preservation was a worldwide practice in which the United States and Great Britain, due to their economy, were ahead of competitors like France who lacked distribution and refrigeration. Italy, contrasting to the rest of the world, had a Mediterranean preserving culture. Their exports which included almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, fresh fruits, and dried figs, proved that Italy was behind countries like France in their methods of preservation. The commonly known