Canning and Napoleon (BBB!)


History tidbit: Preserving food in jars as we know it today originated with the military. Not the U.S. military–Napoleon’s! Napoleon Bonaparte ran a contest offering a cash prize to anyone who could invent a reliable long-term method for preserving food for his army. Yes, contests go way back, too! The winner, Nicholas Appert, came up with the concept of taking food to a high temperature then sealing it in jars. I’m not sure how much money he won, or if Napoleon paid up. It was decades later before Louis Pasteur actually explained why Appert’s method worked. Appert just figured out that it worked. Nobody knew why. It just did.

I do a lot of stuff like that. I don’t know why stuff works, it just does. A hundred years from now, somebody’ll explain. Meanwhile, I’ve got a BBB to give away today! (I feel so Napoleonic.)


Ball Blue BookIt’s a Ball Blue Book Project day! Today’s Ball Blue Book is sponsored by Rose at Baskets by Rose–hand woven baskets, quilts, stitchery, and more all made by hand. Visit her here.

For a chance to win: Leave a comment on this post and let me know you want it. You can just put (BBB) at the end of your comment or otherwise note that you want to be in the draw. One winner will be drawn by random comment number to receive a Ball Blue Book. Eligible entry cut-off is midnight Eastern (U.S.) time tonight (January 29). This post will be updated with the winner by 9 a.m. Eastern (U.S.) time tomorrow (January 30). Return to this post to claim your book if your name is drawn (or check the BBB Winners List).

Find out more about the Ball Blue Book Project and become a sponsor.

UPDATE 01/30/11: The winning comment number, drawn by, is #30, mom2girls. Email me at CITRgiveaways(at) with your full name and address for shipping!



  1. Lindsay says:

    I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that a military man came up with canning! I’m glad he did though, I love it and it’s such a good skill to know. Hope Napoleon paid him! Thanks for that bit of very important history. I’d love to be entered in the contest. BBB!

  2. Blessings says:

    Thanks for that bit of history. Please, BBB!

  3. Raeann says:

    And here I was thinking it was the French Foriegn Legion!
    BBB please!

  4. Mary says:

    That’s really interesting trivia! BBB please.

  5. Richelle says:

    Yes, BBB please!!

  6. Barbara at AtLast says:

    Viva la France. BBB s’il voux plait.

  7. Jean - MN says:

    Love your site — especially the goat tales

  8. Wanda says:

    need a new bbb!!!!!!

  9. B. Ruth says:

    I wonder how many jars failed before he figured out the right temperture and how long to cook it to seal it..and what product was canned….and I wonder which came first the Ball Jar or the canned beans….? I always thought the military used tin cans early on…or those heavy pottery storage jars…
    Glad I didn’t have to taste the first canned bean…LOL
    Also I hope it wasn’t like some experiments….mistakes were buried..LOL
    BBB chance, please!

  10. Kathy in FL says:

    Very interesting. I admire people who invent things. BBB, please.

  11. Hugh says:

    BBB – the Bible of canning. I sure could use a new one.

  12. GaPeach says:

    Love the history and would love to win a BBB. Thanks for offering this prize to everyone!

  13. justdeborah2002 says:

    His taste tester was a brave soul, considering how quickly food spoiled back then….”it’s how old??”
    Would love a chance to win the BBB!

  14. Gem says:

    Im feeling very Napoleonic today – please pick me for the BBB!
    Thank YOU!

  15. Peggy says:

    What an interesting story. BBB would be nice.

  16. Anke says:

    I had no idea, thanks for that interesting tidbit. BBB pretty please.

  17. prayingpup says:

    I love history – we learn so much! BBB please!

  18. Billy says:

    I was wondering the same thing as B.Ruth. The mistakes must have been buried and I’m glad I wasn’t one of them. And Suzanne, I’m sure our mistakes aren’t as devastating. BBB PUUULLEEEEZZZ

  19. brookdale says:

    Thanks, Suzanne and Rose, for offering this. BBB please!

  20. Debbie says:

    I would love to win a BBB!

  21. windspiritwhimsies says:

    Would love to learn how to can! Jelly and preserves would go great with the Grandmother bread and homemade butter I learned to make from your wonderful site! Please enter me for BBB Please! Thanks! :sheepjump:

  22. Glenie says:

    You just never know who is interested in canning! Ha Ha. BBB

  23. ladychef says:

    BBB Hurray for Nicholas Appert!!! And a big Thank You to Rose for another chance to win a BBB!

  24. summer says:

    weee! besides you’re posts on canning, maybe this can get me started right too! BBB

  25. mom2girls says:

    i’d love some winter canning inspiration! BBB, please:)

  26. Rockyshore says:

    Me, too, please. :sheepjump:

  27. Debbie says:

    Wonderful tidbit of trivia for today! Would love to win the BBB-thanks!

  28. lilac wolf says:


    And I love stories like that. Actually I thought preserving went back farther, good story. I still don’t know why it works, but am glad it does. πŸ™‚

  29. sam says:

    I could sure use a BBB. I guess with the new snow you are house bound.


  30. Tammy says:

    I’ve just started canning about 2 yrs. ago never had a garden myself before then remember as a little girl my dad having a garden but they never canned. With times the way they are now and with all the stuff going into food you buy I am liking doing this for my family it even taste better. Love your blog. It is very interesting the military was the first to can things. Would love to have that book. (BBB)

  31. Rhonda says:

    BBB.. and thank you for the factoid. πŸ™‚

  32. Donna says:

    Really enjoy your animal tales. BBB

  33. Amanda says:

    I’d like the BBB please.

  34. Jeannie says:

    That was a neat historical tidbit. Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚ BBB

  35. joeyfulnoise says:

    Interesting how technological advances came about because of the needs of the military…….and today, because of space exploration. BBB, please!

  36. Teri says:

    would love to win a bbb!

  37. TwistedStitcher says:

    Pick me, please!!!!! BBB

  38. Jana NC says:

    I’d love a BBB!

  39. marymac says:

    I could really use that BBB

  40. Lana says:

    Thank you, Rose and thank you, CITR! Please enter my name into the drawing!

  41. Kathleen says:

    Interesting fun fact. Thanks. BBB, Please.

  42. Linda T. says:

    BBB please! Thanks Rose and Suzanne!

  43. hollygee says:

    Another chance to say how much I enjoy your blog and photos. I’m so happy that Sprite accepted the mommyhood challenge. BBB

  44. Shelley says:

    Cool back story on canning! I would love to win a BBB!

  45. Chrisi says:

    I love knowing how things like this that we just take for granted began. Very interesting.
    Would love to be entered for the BBB.

  46. Amy Cook in WI says:

    I am reading a romance right now and the hero was in the Battle of Waterloo….I am surrounded by Napoleonic references…makes me think of, hmmmm, pastries maybe? Or canniing! BBB, please!

  47. Katie says:

    I only started canning a year ago and I ask myself now what took me so long! BBB Please!!!

  48. patricialynn says:

    Nice bit of history there. Bet most people didn’t know that!

    BBB please!

  49. giantveggiegardener says:

    Hi- I’m a veggie gardener, have farm animals (goats and chickens) and big time canner and have many canning books but not this one so I would like to be entered into the BBB contest.

    I love your blog and found it on Ricki’s Cheesemaking (yes I’m a budding cheesemaker as well) with your monthly cheesemaking challenge. Excellent! I too am intimated by some of the cheeses and you encourage me.

    Hope you check out my blog about growing veggies and GIANT veggies at

  50. Sandy Henderson says:

    I SO need to learn to can and preserve food. It’s at the top of my to-do list along with making cheese and soap. All of which you have checked off and blogged about…you are so ahead of the game! πŸ™‚

    I would love a BBB!

  51. Melanie says:

    I’d love the BBB. Thanks.

  52. EightPondFarm says:

    What a fabulous bit of trivia. Healthier (maybe even as tasty) to think of this now when I hear “Napoleon”. BBB, please

  53. sal says:

    Interesting tidbit of history! Who knew? Well as usual I’d like to win the BBB contest for today. Wish me luck everyone…no, wait, you all want to win too. :o)

  54. iowacowgirl says:

    I would like the BBB please. And thanks on the food preservation tidbit. That rascal Napoleon…..I do know his horse was Marengo. (I’m full of worthless information).

  55. Denise :) says:

    S’il vous plait, BBB! (That’s Napoleon for Count me in!) πŸ™‚

  56. Susan Sink says:

    I would so love to have a BBB. Pick me! Pick me!

  57. Rose says:

    How interesting!! Great article, it’s so neat to find out the origin of canning!
    BBB!! BBB!! BBB!! BBB!! BBB!! πŸ™‚

  58. Rose says:

    How interesting!!

  59. GrammieEarth says:

    I wonder if I can win one for my neighbor…she would be thrilled!

  60. Renee says:

    I would love to win a BBB! Yes please

  61. Ruth C says:

    Yes, please, BBB for me!

  62. LeAnn says:

    Interesting history tidbit πŸ™‚
    BBB please πŸ™‚

  63. Barb W says:

    Thanks for the tibit. Its interesting to know the history. Need to fact check but I’m thinking that’s why we got the m&m, from the military. So it wouldn’t melt in your hand. BBB Please.

  64. Diane says:

    I would like to learn to can, BBB.

  65. Martha in KS says:

    Napoleon didn’t do any canning himself because he always had one hand in his shirt & we all know it’s “all hands on deck” when trying to get that hot stuff into the jars. πŸ˜† BBB please!

    Snow is melting in KC – up to 50 degrees today. Woohoo!

  66. NAOMI says:


  67. patricia(ticka1) says:

    Love the history – signed me up for the BBB give away!!!!

  68. Jersey Lady says:

    Boy, I could use a new BBB canning book. Mine is from the 1960s.

  69. Patty says:

    Cool story about Napoleon’s contest. Thanks for this contest. I hope I win a BBB. Thanks for all you do!!

  70. Miss Becky says:

    thank you for sponsoring the giveaway Rose! And thank you Suzanne for that interesting historical fact about canning. I didn’t know. I guess the next time I can something I’ll think of Napoleon! BBB!

  71. Leslie says:

    Would love to be entered in the BBB please! πŸ™‚

  72. Dana says:

    I would love to have a new canning book mine is very old, but I love it….BBB Please

  73. Sandra in Oklahoma says:

    I love historical background information. And, I would love to win a BBB.

  74. rain says:

    I have one from way back many many yrs ago and now would love to win one for my daughter and husband -who want to move back closer to Maine after service in the marines-and have a garden-and learn to can. He-my son-law-wants to do it with her because she tells him about how much her mom and dad canned together when she was little!- :heart: -It is easier when you have good help!!-I love hearing stories like this from my girls!!—BBB__BBB—BBB–BBB—BBB—fingers crossed!!!! BBB–BBB–BBB–BBB :snoopy:

  75. Alison says:

    Being relatively new to canning, I would love this book.

  76. Kirsten S says:

    I am hoping to start canning this year. I totally slacked off last year and didn’t even plant my garden. Well, I did have a baby in mid April and just wasn’t up to doing much else!! Anyway, its a new year to get back on track. Suzanne, you are such an inspiration. My family loves your recipes (especially the Tex Mex enchilada sauce and the Grandmother’s bread!) I’d love to be entered in the BBB contest! Thank you!

  77. Barbie says:

    Cool information. And now I have a good explanation–“I don’t know why it works, it just does!” BBB

  78. aprilejoi says:

    Give me (BBB) or give me dea…ok, not death, but I would like to be in the drawing! Thanks

  79. Ramona Slocum says:

    It’s always nice to learn something new. BBB for me also. Have a wonderful day. MN Mona

  80. Tanya Miller says:

    I thought you were going to teach us how to can ICE CREAM!! HA I was all excited :snoopy: :snoopy: BBB Thanks!

  81. Kerrie says:

    Thanks for the history lesson…I wish it would have been that interesting in school! πŸ™‚

    Please add me to the list for the drawing.


  82. Lynette says:

    What a neat history lesson! Thanks for the chance to win the BBB.

  83. Vicki in So. CA says:

    Hunh. A military man. Who’da thunk? Thank you for that. And thank you, Suzanne and Rose, for the chance to win a BBB (for my daughter).

  84. LisaAJB says:

    That is so cool. Thanks for the knowledge. BBB please!

  85. geena22 says:

    I would love to win a BBB :duck:

  86. Lucy says:

    I learn SO much reading your blog! Thanks! Please put me in for the BBB draw, too.

  87. Nancy Stickler says:

    Well who woulda thunk it! My son is like that too….”it doesn’t matter why, it just does, go with it!” My daughter and I, nope, why, why, why….. BBB

  88. ann/alba says:

    Wow A history lesson & canning that’s whats amazing about this blog I LOVE IT
    Oh yes please enter me into the Contest for the BLUE BALL BOOK.
    Are Canadians eligible.
    Have a great day. Ann

  89. Lee in KY says:

    I would like this book! (BBB)

  90. Debbie S says:

    Thanks for the interesting info Suzanne. I hope that mothers will continue to pass down canning and preserving techniques so they don’t become a “lost art”. BBB please!

  91. lavenderblue says:

    Suzanne, how do you know this stuff? BBB,please and thanks to Rose.

  92. Christine says:

    I would love to win! Love your site πŸ™‚

  93. Betty says:

    I look forward to your blog every day. I love to can all my garden vegetables and the fruits we can get. Keep up the good work. BBB.

  94. Ilene says:

    Sounds like me on the computer, no idea how it works, it just does. I am just getting into pressure canning. een scared of it. I had better get into it, I now have 2 pressure canners. woudl love an up to date BBB.
    At the risk of eing a suck up, I do love your site. I dont know how you have the time to do everything and do a website but I’m glas you do.

  95. Pam says:

    BBB, please oh please

  96. langela says:

    Count me in for a chance to win a BBB!

  97. Lynda Treen says:

    Just so glad we live in the time we do so we can enjoy the pleasures of canning. BBB

  98. Renee says:

    Enter me, pls! BBB

  99. Delanki says:

    Would love to win the book! BBB

  100. Nadeanne says:

    I would love that book!

  101. Kristen A says:

    Thanks Suzanne for the nugget of trivia. And thank you to Rose for sponsoring this give away! BBB please.

  102. Teresa in Ga says:

    Thanks for that tidbit of history!
    BBB please.

  103. Tricia in TEXAS says:

    BBB – evenually you’ll HAVE TO PICK ME!!! :snuggle:

  104. Kelly A says:

    That is a really cool fact. BBB please!

  105. Jenny Sterling says:

    BBB Please! Also, I’m taking a cheese making class from a lady who has a small herd of goats and absolutely cannot wait! Thanks for all of the inspiration :)! I’ll be referencing your site when I finally get the courage to try making hard cheeses! Also, I’m so happy for you that Sprite took to motherhood! That’s wonderful news!!

  106. Janice Jewett says:

    please enter me for the BBB.

  107. annabel52 says:

    My Mom taught me to can, who knew there was a book!!!
    Maybe my luck has changed and I will win a BBB!!!

  108. Michelle says:

    Still trying; thanks for another chance – and an interesting bit of history!

  109. cricketjett says:

    BBB, please!!

  110. Brittany P. says:

    I have been following your blog for a couple of weeks and I love it!! Love the way you post frequently and just enjoy all the farm stuff. My husband and I are starting our owm farm this year!

    I would love to win the Ball Blue Book.

  111. marylhall330 says:

    :sun: Hi there, Yes, I will win Jeopardy one of these days.
    Please enter me in the BBB
    :shocked: Mary
    :sun: :sun: :sun: :sun: :sun:

  112. Leah's Mom says:

    Sign me up – and thanks!

  113. kindigo27 says:

    please, please! Can I get a bbb?

  114. Luann says:

    BBB please…it would be a great way to start 2011! Thanks!

  115. Taryn says:

    BBB please, and thanks for all the goatie/cheesey information this month! I have two nubians expecting in a month, and I am very excited to try your recipes!

  116. edennranch says:

    Would love to win a book…I’ve just started converting my family over to slow food rather than fast food. We made pizza last night with hand-made dough, home-canned red sauce, and mozzarella cheese from our own goats that we milk. It was exciting to see the family devour it! Can’t wait to learn more about canning. Pick me for the BBB! Thanks! :sheep:

  117. Jennifer S says:

    I’d love to win a BBB!

  118. farmershae says:

    Merci Monsieur Appert!

    BBB me please!

  119. Carol H says:

    Wow! You learn something new everyday! Thanks for the bit of history and the chance to win.

  120. ayenbe says:

    Please. Please. Please… BBB please. πŸ™‚

  121. Kathy Chaney says:

    Thanks for the information. Would like to practice up on my canning. BBB

  122. melody says:

    I would love to win bbb.

  123. Lisa W says:

    Thank you for a chance to win. I would love the BBB!

  124. Ruth S says:

    BBB please and thank you

  125. Willamette Valley Girl says:

    BBB please!! Double please!!! :snuggle: :snuggle:

  126. Tea4too0 says:

    Thank you for the history lesson. I have learned my “something new every day”. I would like to be entered in the BBB contest. I am going in on a large garden with a friend and he wants to can everything. Thanks again, Suzanne,

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