Sunday, November 10, 2013

Vintage 32 year old tin...

Aged sardines

 Most sardines for sale here in the States are a couple of months old at best, if even that. The French are into aging their sardines like a good wine. Aging does show in the flavor and taste of the fish. Here's a great site, "Sardine Pirates," should you not be able to find French sardines. 
I've had four year- and eight year- old tins of fish before. When I came across this vintage tin of 32 years, I knew I had to try it(even knowing it was not aged properly).

This tin was packaged in Portugal in January of 1981, and it was exported to France, where it stayed until it was shipped here to the States after I acquired them. The"best by date" is Sept. of 1986; they sold the tin to me as a collector item only and not for consumption. Inspecting the tin, there was no tin swelling or any signs of seal breakage; I knew I would eat these. 

Being a vintage tin, naturally, they required a key that did not accompany this tin. With no key on hand, I decided to enter the tin from the bottom. With a can opener and knife in tow, I was finally able to free these fish. I was expecting a can of mush or worse. A faint sardine aroma was very prominent upon opening the tin. I dumped the fish onto a plate. They were very firm and held together. There was only maybe a tablespoon or two of oil present. The inside of the actual tin itself looked good: a thick metal tin.  

Slowly breaking the cluster of fish apart to get a better look, none of the fish fell apart or turned to goo.

I pondered on what to eat with these vintage treats--aged cheese, pickled sides of sorts, etc. I decided on my norm: beer and crackers. I did use ale and a fancy cracker. 

My first bite was (I was expecting the worse, sourness, mush, bitterness, instant death- nothing-)a very mild, firm-textured fish, yes firm... To be this old and to possess a better texture than most present-day tins of fish is really sad. (They don't make them like they used to). The oil was really mellow and thick. The fish did possess a very faint tin after taste, possibly from not being aged properly and being turned periodically. There were six uniformed size fish to the tin; all six had the same consistency. They were firm-textured fish. While eating, bones were not detectable at all. The fish was dense in texture, as well.

A truly unique tin of fish. The flavor of the fish was not a fish one, but a deep nutty, almost sweet flavor. In the end, I would eat these again. At $53, I feel I got an excellent deal. 

I would like to thank all the sardine eaters out there who messaged me their concerns and well wishes, while my family and friends only informed me, "it was nice knowing you."

While a 32-year-old tin of fish may not be your thing, if you have never tried aged sardines, you owe it to yourself to pick up and try a tin. Or, age your own. Age a tin for a year or two, and check out the difference. Olive oil is the medium of choice for aging. 

I'm off to pop some new tins... 


  1. Hi, I just discovered your blog and I love it! Only my now deceased father ever shared my love of sardines and all things preserved/smoked/tinned and fishy :) Nice to find there are others.

  2. Hi Andrea, thank you. Always nice to meet a fellow sardine eater. :)

  3. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  4. "It was nice knowing you" made me laugh. ;-) they were only concerned and eating a tin of fish that may be older than some family members would be weird for most. You are brave. I can't even eat chip dip one day over date. Lol
    Actually sound like a good experience. Is this the oldest tin you ever ate? What is the oldest tin for sale? Just curious. :-)

  5. currently, it is the oldest tin I've ate. I do have a couple tins from Yugoslavia, canned in 1968... that I will be trying soon!

  6. I heard of somebody who ate a Vintage 1924 Hovden Monterey Sardine and said it was excellent....even in 2004! Maybe he was not picky?

    1. Sounds good to me! It really all comes down to how and where the tin was stored over the years.

  7. Amazing and hilarious too...I was googling to see if my 6 year old French sardines were okay to I will let them age even longer! (While turning them over every few months) thank you!!

  8. What are some good brands to age yourself?

  9. Any tins in olive oil, I age King Oscar cross packs

  10. مذهل جدا احتفظ بالعلبة الفارغة انها انتيكا جميلة