Eingekochte Lebensmittel im Glas


Well preserved

How can food be preserved for longer? Rudolf Rempel had the answer: more than 125 years ago, the chemist developed an “apparatus for the independent closure of and air removal from sterilizing vessels” – this was the birth of preserving jars.

When there are no refrigerators to preserve food, you have to get inventive. Like Rudolf Rempel, who worked as a chemist in a Gelsenkirchen benzene factory in the late 19th century. On his days off, he experimented in his home laboratory: he ground the rim off powder jars, filled them with milk, and fitted them with a rubber ring and a sheet metal lid. He then placed a heavy object on top of the lid and boiled the filled containers in a water bath. Months later, he would offer the milk to guests for their coffee, and they were impressed.

Well fixed

The inventor was encouraged and repeated his experiments using fruit and vegetables that his wife and he had grown in their own garden. He worked on a container that fixed the jar lid in place during the boiling process. It was a success! This apparatus was the actual innovation (as Frenchman Nicolas Appert had already experimented with how to preserve food by heating it and storing it in airtight containers in 1810). Rempel patented his “apparatus for the independent closure of and air removal from sterilizing vessels” on April 24, 1892. The inventor died a year later – at the age of just 34.

Like many others, Johann Carl Weck was very impressed by the process. The businessman and staunch anti-drinker wanted above all to tackle the “national epidemic of alcohol” and use Rempel’s invention to preserve fruit juices while preventing their fermentation process. He acquired Rempel’s patent in 1895. This is why the word “einwecken” – and not “einrempeln” – is used in Germany today to mean “preserving”.

(Image: pamela_d_mcadams  – AdobeStock)

Place of invention

The inventor's workplace: Kokerei der Aktiengesellschaft für Kohlendestillation, Dessauerstraße, Gelsenkirchen