Katy was giving me the synopsis of a 99%Invisible podcast that investigated innovations sparked by wars and other tragedies. I call this "The Katycast".
She recounted Napoleon’s offer of 12,000 francs to a person who could successfully preserve food for his army (I almost said successfully can food, but that was not yet invented). Nicolas François Appert, a confectioner, won the prize after 15 years of experiments. His method involved heating and sealing food in airtight glass jars, or what we call Wednesday.
This fun fact sent me down a series of twists and turns about this history of pickling and canned food. Apparently, my grandmother invented neither pickling nor canning. The Pickle Museum has a nice poster with a pickle timeline. When pickles met canning it began the end of getting your gherkins from barrels on the corner, and JH Heinz started an industry. This postcard shows a process that remains unchanged. Our skirts may be shorter, but we look pretty similar.
As caterers, we pickled when we had a combination of extra produce and time. The combinations were endless and at hand: Beets and thyme…winner! Figs and balsamic…super extra winner. When we opened Café Freya at the National Nordic Museum our pickling went into overdrive. The Nords are serious about two things: Pickles and coffee. We developed our Pickled Fennel and our Pickled Red O’s for the café and used the methods of Nicholas Francios Appert to put them in a jar for you.
P.S. This makes the Napoleon line of canned and jarred foods make a lot more sense.
P.P.S. We are working on Pickled Pickles right now – look for them soon.