Types of food dating

The category of food (aka "culinary") bottles - including fruit/canning jars - is yet another very large group of bottles and jars with a very high degree of diversity of shapes and sizes as shown in the image above (Switzer 1974).As with most of the other major bottle type categories covered on this website, the examples described and illustrated on this Food Bottles & Canning Jars typology page comprise a brief overview and sampling of the variety of food bottles produced during the era covered by this website - the 19th century through the middle of the 20th century.(This was during the Napoleonic War era and was done, not surprisingly, for military reasons.) Appert's experiments with the application of high heat along with the exclusion of air from a sealed container led directly to the development of a canning process in 1809 (and Appert's award of the prize money) that allowed for the relatively long term storage of animal and vegetable products in sealed containers of various materials (Munsey 1970; Roller 1983; Bender 1986; Jones 1993).Appert's process involved the killing of the bacteria by heating followed by exclusion from further contamination in a sealed container, although the actual scientific reasons as to why the process worked were unknown at the time.(Note: As discussed frequently on this website, the re-use of "disposable" bottles of almost all types was common up until the early 20th century; food bottles were likely no different and were frequently re-used.) Canning jars likely warrant a separate typology page (as has been suggested by some reviewers) but have been addressed here for simplicity since they are a category within the broad group of "food" bottles though often treated separately by many authors.In addition, these typing pages can only scratch the surface of the diversity of any group - including canning jars.

(Note: Bender [1986] contains an excellent though succinct overview of early 19th century food preservation efforts, although the book is primarily devoted to the major closures used by the glass packing industry during the first half of the 20th century.) Although the variety of different shaped glass containers used for food products was quite extensive, many classes of food bottles and jars do share a couple traits in common.

In general, food bottles have not inspired as much interest from collectors (the source of a large majority of bottle reference books) as other categories.

Thus, foods have received a relatively limited amount of research in comparison to the relative commonness of the type.

In particular, bottles/jars intended for bulky solid food items (like preserved pickles, olives, fruits, etc.) had to have a relatively wide mouth (bore) in order to the facilitate the packing as well as extraction of these products.

(This is evident on the mid-19th century "cathedral" pickle bottle pictured to the above left.) Some liquid food containers like milk bottles (example to the right) also had relatively wide mouths for overall ease of use (and cleaning for re-use) though other more liquid food products (oil, sauces) worked quite well with narrow mouth bottles.

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