Have you got some Chinese Five Spice that’s been lurking unused in the kitchen cupboard since you moved in? Or a tin of sardines that no-one in the household remembers ever purchasing?
Ever looked at sell by dates and thought, “That’s got more life in it yet.”? Well, read on to discover the oldest foods that have been discovered and actually consumed… by humans. Don’t try this at home.
The Ancient Egyptians knew about the preserving properties of honey thousands of years ago. In fact, during the discovery of one tomb, archaeologists found 2000 year old honey; which they were brave enough to try. Honey has multiple uses and the Egyptians used it in medicine as well as cooking. A cake made of sesame, honey and milk was found in the 4,200 year old tomb of Pepionkh. Doubt they tried that one!
Tinned sardines have helped keep inhabitants in deepest, darkest parts of Norway healthy and well fed for the dark winter months since the canning process was discovered in 1806. The Norwegian Canning Museum houses tins up to 100 years old that are still edible.
The preservation is that good!
A Vietnam veteran received a C Ration tinned cake during the war in 1973. Even then it would have been deemed out of date by most people, as it was tinned in 1969. He vowed that upon his retirement from service he would try it. Sure enough, 40 years after the cake was made, in 2009 Henry A Moak ate the cake. He was joined in his brave feat by fellow veterans who lived to tell the tale. They said the cake was ‘still moist’ and ‘good’.
In early 2012, in Germany, Hans Feldmeier, ate some 64 year old Swift’s bland lard (sounds delicious doesn’t it?) that he’d been saving from a food parcel he’d received in the post-war era. He didn’t just take his chances, however, and had the lard tested by scientists prior to consumption. He was surprised by the lack of rancidity. He ate the lard to show that today’s financial outlook is just as bleak as it was for him back in the late 1940s. He did stretch to buy a loaf of black bread to eat with the lard. Just as well. Lard on its own is pretty revolting, even more so 64 years later one would imagine.
Brave foodie and journalist, Mark Hewitt has a great blog entry about the day he ate only 5-year old army rations that he had left over from a hiking trip 2 years previously. In the article he details, with pictures, each of the delightful astronaut-style food, its preparation and taste ratings. He was shocked to discover that it was all fine. Baked beans, boiled sweets, biscuits and pork casserole! All edible!
In 2010, divers in Finland discovered 168 bottles of champagne and numerous bottles of beer dating back to the first quarter of the 19th Century in a wreck in the Baltic Sea. The discovery was claimed to be the oldest unopened champagne in the world. Before the divers could decide whether or not to open one, the pressure change caused a cork to pop, so he took a swig. Apparently it was perfectly drinkable. It seems that the best place to store vintage champagne isn’t a posh wine cellar, but the bottom of the sea! The oldest bottle of wine (1651 years old) remains unopened in the Pfalz museum in Germany.
This list of ill-advised explorations into nutrition past it’s shelf life was sent to us by thorpe breaks – who prefer more traditional scares. What’s the oldest thing you’ve ever eaten? Would you try 2000 year old honey?