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The Can Food Festival

May 26, 1999|LEILAH BERNSTEIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Although it has been 150 years since Henry Evans revolutionized the American commercial canning industry by inventing a machine that pressed out the tops and bottoms of tin cans, it took more than 50 years for commercial canners to win the trust of the American public.

Before Evans' invention, the time-consuming job of making the tops and bottoms of cans was the province of tinsmiths. Suddenly, 1,500 cans could be produced in a day, compared to 120 a day in the early 1840s.

But it wasn't until the washing and sterilizing procedures for canning were standardized that the use of canned foods really began to catch on. In 1903, the Minnesota Valley Canning Co. (later Green Giant) sold an impressive 11,750 cases of white cream-style corn. Canned peas, beans and tomatoes also would become top sellers.

A Feb. 14, 1915, article in The Times described the "wonderful advance" made by the canning industry. Headlined "Fresh Vegetables the Year Around," the article explained that "until comparatively recent times we were obliged to rely chiefly upon dried vegetables and those which would keep during the winter months, such as potatoes, parsnips, beets, turnips, cabbages, etc.

"Now one may be sure of the ability to secure in tins vegetables of all sorts which are not leftovers of a heavily stocked garden but products grown especially for the benefit of winter consumers."

Despite the convenience, readers were advised not to serve vegetables straight from the can. Instead, they were instructed to enhance the flavor of canned corn with a little salt, butter and cream or to use canned vegetables to make corn croquettes, pea pancakes or scalloped tomatoes.

This recipe for corn fritters was adapted from that Feb. 14, 1915, story.

*

Corn Fritters

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes * Vegetarian

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

3 cups canned corn, drained

1 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

Oil

* Combine eggs, milk, sugar and butter in medium bowl. Finely chop corn in food processor and stir into milk mixture. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and add to corn mixture.

* Heat 1/4 to 1/2 inch oil in skillet over medium heat. Shape fritters with tablespoon and fry in hot oil until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

20 fritters. Each fritter: 79 calories; 365 mg sodium; 24 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 11 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.17 grams fiber.

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