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Canning Timeline Table

Canning, which was adopted in the United States shortly after its development, quickly became an important means of food preservation for American citizens. This timeline shows some of the major points of interest for the development of this food preservation method.



portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte

1795
Napoleon offers a reward of 12 thousand francs for the invention of a new food preservation method

1809
Nicolas Appert wins Napoleon's reward

1810
Peter Durand creates the "tin canister"

1812
Robert Ayars opens the first American cannery

1858
John L. Mason patents the Mason jar

1884
The Ball Corporation starts manufacturing glass jars for home canning

1903
Alexander H. Kerr and the Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation create a home canning supply business

1914
World War I begins

1914
Smith-Lever Act creates the official position of Home Demonstration Agent

1915
Alexander H. Kerr is granted patent for his two-piece disposable metal canning lid

1917
The U.S. Department of Agriculture determines that presure canning is the only safe way to process low-acid foods

1931
Twelve people, inlcuding some children, die after consuming improperly home-canned food at a dinner party in North Dakota

1939
World War II begins
(This poster by Carter Housh made for World War I was reused)

1943
Peak in home canning in the United States, with more than four billion cans and jars processed

1945
Decline in home canning accelerated by the increased availability of home refrigeration

1970
Do-It-Yourself movement results in a resurgence of home canning and pressure canners

1977
Largest recorded outbreak of Botulism resulting from home canning


Fifty-nine people became ill with Botulism after eating salsa prepared with home canned jalapenos at a Mexican restaurant in Michigan

1988
The U.S. Department of Agriculture first publishes its Complete Guide to Home Canning

1993
The Food and Drug Administration publishes its first comprehensive Food Code

Poster illustrating improper canning procedures

Don't (1943)

2005
USDA Standards


A national survey of home canners finds that up to 57% use methods deemed unsafe by USDA standards

Date K, Fagan R, Crossland S, Maceachern D, Pyper B, Bokanyi R, Houze Y, Andress E, and Tauxe R. (2011) 'Three Outbreaks of Foodborne Botulism Caused by Unsafe Home Canning of Vegetables--Ohio and Washington, 2008 and 2009,' Journal of Food Protection, 74(12)