Milo M. “Slayt” Slayton (1879-1971)
American Can Company
Scalding & Lye Peeling Process
Grapefruit Canners Association
Milo Slayton was born in Cohocton, New York, in 1879. Moving to Florida 1913, Slayton worked briefly for the American Can Company, before entering the Army when America entered the fighting in World War I. Three years later Slayton returned to the canning company and immediately began overseeing the construction of three new packing houses. At these packing houses he discovered a new way to package citrus juice for shipping.
In 1927 Slayton supervised the successful packaging of citrus in metal containers, the first time this was ever accomplished. Freshly squeezed juice is highly susceptible to spoilage, in fact more so than whole fruit. Unprotected by skin or cell walls, fluid components are thoroughly mixed with air and microorganisms from the environment. A proper container for packaging juice must protect against outside bacteria and organisms. Slayton found that metal cans lined with enamel were excellent at protecting the quality, flavor, and freshness of the juice.
Slayton was also instrumental in creating the first rotary press for extracting juice from grapefruit. He also created a new peeling process for citrus that used a scalding and lye technique that allowed the peel of citrus fruits to be removed by hand rather than through a knife. His peel extraction technique was the standard of the industry for more than 50 years.
Slayton would oversee the construction of half a dozen packinghouses that utilized his techniques. He also assisted in the organization of the Florida Grapefruit Canners Association, where he was a member of the first board of directors.