Canned food: 8 interesting facts

On September 3, 1812, the first can of industrial production was manufactured at the world's first cannery. Until then, canned foods were made by hand.

From the point of view of modern man, this date may seem insignificant. Just think, canned food. In any seedy store their carriage and a small cart, but still everyone is sure that fresh food is incomparably better.

But in fact, the invention of a method for storing products for a long time was of great importance. And it still has, although many canned foods are not a standard of wholesome food.

MedAboutMe offers a selection of interesting facts about canned food.

Canned foods have been known since ancient times.

Canned foods have been known since ancient times.

Canned products should not only be considered as being stored in hermetically sealed glass or tin cans. Dried and smoked products can also be considered canned, because the spoilage process in them is suspended for a certain time. Different peoples of the globe have long had their own ways to preserve food for a long time.

One of the oldest canned foods can be considered a find made in the tomb of Tutankhamun. To travel to the underworld, the late Pharaoh was provided with supplies: roasted ducks, oiled and hermetically sealed in clay vessels. "Canned food" lay in the tomb for more than 3 thousand years, without decaying and not turning into stone. According to some reports, some of the contents of this funeral preserve were eaten by dogs, and nothing bad happened to them.

Dried meat, grated with herbs and berries, the Indians called pemmican. The pressed pieces of pemmican were stored for several months and served as a good supply of food along the way.

In Africa, the meat of an elephant or buffalo was also procured for the future: kept in salt with the addition of herbs, and then dried. The resulting product is called biltong. It is stored for several months and tastes quite good.

Northern peoples also make peculiar canned food on a rainy day: they dig in a swamp a carcass of a deer or seal with all its contents, without gutting. The carcass is fermented for several months, after which local residents can dig it up and enjoy eating it. But only the locals, whose body has acquired resistance to cadaveric poisons that accumulate in this kind of meat blank. Everyone else who dares to try this “delicacy” faces a painful death from poisoning. Very convenient blank for future use, only "for their own."

Modern canned goods invented in France

This was done by the culinary specialist Nicola-Francois Upper, and the customer was Napoleon Bonaparte himself, who needed a lot of well-preserved products to supply his armies. In 1795, the emperor announced the award that a person would receive who offered an effective way to reliably store products. Because he confidently considered good nutrition of soldiers as one of the conditions for a successful war.

Upper experimented for a long time, more than 10 years. Pasteur has not yet been born, who was to open the pasteurization process. There was still no understanding of why products spoil. Individual experimenters were only beginning to approach an understanding of these processes.

Upper tried to preserve different foods: meat, strong broth, milk, fruits, vegetables, beans. He put the products in glass jars, closed them tightly and boiled them in salt water for several hours. The resulting canned food was well preserved for 8 months.

In 1809, Upper received a well-deserved award and the title "benefactor of mankind", after which he opened a small shop in Paris where he sold canned food of his own preparation.

The cans for canning were invented by the Englishman Peter Duran. True, only very strong and very hungry people could open his cans with a hammer, a chisel and a goddamn grandmother, and the process of making canned food at first was very laborious. Only the invention of a can opener and cans made things easier. A can opener was invented in 1860 in America.

Canned food in Russia

Canned food in Russia

In our country, the first canning factory appeared only in 1870, and only after several consignments of canned food were purchased abroad and passed the edibility test: they fed prisoners and students. The army, as in other countries, was the main customer of new food products. Gradually, the optimal capacity of canned food was determined experimentally: one pound, which the soldier had enough to reinforce his strength. The Russian cannery produced beef and lamb stew, porridge, pea stew and just peas with meat, meat stew and cabbage soup with meat. Canned food was stored for a very long time.

It is known that in 1966 one of the cans with stew, produced in 1916, got into the All-Russian Research Institute of Canning Industry. The contents of the jar were checked and tasted. Preserved pre-revolutionary stew perfectly.

And in 1974, a food warehouse was opened in Taimyr, left in 1900-1902 by the polar expedition of Eduard Toll, whose story inspired V. Kaverin for the novel “Two Captains”. Toll died without having found the mysterious Sannikov Land, and the warehouse remained unclaimed. Canned food was stored in permafrost, in a sealed box. In 2004, several cans were opened and examined. The products turned out to be quite usable.

The composition of the first canned food: meat, fish, vegetables, fruits

Conscientious manufacturers did not add anything but salt and spices. Food safety was achieved through sterilization, and not the use of any preservative additives. The jars were exposed to high temperatures: first, approximately 110 ° C, and then, after the invention of the autoclave, to 135 ° C.

However, as the popularity of the new method of harvesting grew, small canning industries began to appear, on which a variety of canned goods were made from meat and vegetables. Some of them neglected the quality of products, striving only for profit. For example, quality control of small private canning enterprises in the Yaroslavl province revealed several cases of adding copper sulfate to canned food. This poisonous substance gave the vegetables a beautiful green color, but also had a very bad effect on the health status of consumers.

As for the assortment, it was very extensive. In the United States canned seafood, fish, corn. France produced canned goods from sardines, tomatoes, and legumes; biscuits and fruits were sealed in cans. Livestock Australia was the largest producer of canned meat, and in Russia they produced many canned fish of valuable species: stellate sturgeon and sterlet, nelma and whitefish, sockeye salmon, etc.

Composition of modern canned food: from seafood to insects

Composition of modern canned food: from seafood to insects

The assortment of the canning industry today is so wide that it is hard to even imagine. Canned meat and poultry, fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables, milk and sauces, insects and even air. The list of the most unusual canned goods includes exotic meat of the cobra and its distant creepy alligator relative. Rare and expensive are canned truffles, specially prepared chestnuts, as well as snails, bamboo worms, silkworm larvae and even scorpions. Against the background of this exotic, canned goods from the possum and armadillo look quite modest.

But still, the main part of canned food is meat, fish, vegetables and fruits. Auxiliary ingredients are added to the main ingredient: salt or sugar, spices, water, oil, and other substances. Sometimes not all of them are indicated on the packaging, and their presence is detected only during verification in the laboratory.

The general rule for choosing canned food: the less ingredients, the better. In canned meat can be meat and fat (in a certain proportion), salt, water, spices. In fish – fish, salt, spices, water (oil, tomato paste). In vegetables – vegetables, oil / water, salt, spices, acidity regulator.

How to choose good canned food: tips for the buyer

Firstly, do not rely on brand awareness. Inspections conducted by Roskontrol show that not all canned goods are equally good or bad even from the same manufacturer. Pork stew can be quite decent, and beef stew from bad to worse. Or sardines of good quality, and the cod liver is terrible with undeclared worms. By the way, that’s why it’s worth following the new tests, the results of which are published by independent laboratories.


Be sure to inspect the packaging, paying attention to its integrity and the absence of dents and scratches. Lids and cans should never be swollen.

Tin cans, thickly coated with oil, may be on the verge of shelf life. As a rule, this is how canned food is stored in state warehouses, and they go into trade when the expiration date approaches. Sometimes they are washed from the grease, but it also happens that this procedure is neglected.

Information about the expiration date, and not only about it, can be obtained from the markings squeezed out on the cover in the form of rows of numbers and letters. It is best if the marking is in the form of convex signs, since this most likely indicates that the product was produced in the factory.

Markings applied by paint or squeezed out may be a sign of counterfeiting.

The top row of numbers is the production date. The second and third row provides data on the industry to which the product belongs, the manufacturer and the product assortment number.

The meat industry is indicated by the letter A, the producers of fruits and vegetables – by the letter K, the dairy industry – M, the fish industry – P, the combination of CAs indicates that canned goods were issued by consumer cooperation.

It is difficult to remember the designation of assortment numbers for all canned food, but you can carry a list of the most popular types on your smartphone. Reconciliation with this list will help identify what is in the bank by labeling. For example, a label may indicate that there is Atlantic salmon, and the assortment number honestly says that there is cheaper pink salmon in the bank.

Pay attention to the standard of production by which the goods are produced. Although modern GOSTs have significantly changed for the better, they are still better than TU (technical specifications), or the lack of information about standards in general.

What, where, when: time and place of production

What, where, when: time and place of production

The best canned fish is produced at floating bases or on the seashore, close to the places of fishing. If canned seafood is produced by a plant in the Moscow Region, this means that frozen raw materials were used, and this immediately reduces the quality.

Canned vegetables and fruits are best made in regions where fruits are grown, meat cans are better in areas with developed livestock and poultry farming. For canned vegetables, it is also important to pay attention to the production time, as far as it corresponds to the timing of harvesting the contents. Otherwise, you can buy low-edible green peas, prepared not from fresh, but dried and restored raw materials. Or pineapple of the Moscow Region canning, probably grown on the other side of the world and having traveled a long way of transportation and storage.

Are there healthy canned foods?

Despite the usual statements about the dangers of canned food, there are among them those that deserve attention.

For example, in some canned fish, there are even more useful fatty acids than in fresh home-made fish. And cod liver in our northern latitudes can be a valuable source of vitamin D in winter. Sardines and mackerel are also useful. It is best to choose natural canned fish, that is, in your own juice, with the addition of only salt and spices.

Two tablespoons of canned seaweed perfectly fill the daily need for iodine, a deficiency of which affects residents of many regions of Russia.

Canned tomatoes in their own juice may be healthier than fresh ones. Heat treatment increases the content of lycopene in tomatoes, and this substance has anti-cancer properties.

Benefits are also preserved in canned beans and lentils. Yes, and they do not need to be cooked additionally.

Excellent preserves the beneficial properties of coconut milk.

Canned fruits can also be beneficial if sugar is not added to them.

Expert Commentary

Esther Ellis, nutritionist

Esther Ellis, nutritionist

Canned foods can be an important and healthy part of the diet. Their harm is clearly greatly exaggerated – if we are talking, of course, about high-quality canned goods.

Many people think that products in banks are literally stuffed with harmful additives and preservatives, but this is a mistake. Preservatives are simply not needed there, as the product is cooked with salt, sugar or spices. The composition of canned food is often as simple as possible: the product itself, water, salt or sugar. Everything.

Yes, due to the heat treatment, the content of vitamins C and B is reduced in canned food, but fat-soluble vitamins are preserved well. Minerals, proteins and other components also do not disappear, the content of some antioxidants may even increase.

Good canned foods can help you make your diet more balanced.

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