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Dating tin cans

I used to keep track of their best-by dates and replace them regularly.And then a few years ago I heard about vintage canned sardines, and I tasted prized, pricey Galician Now I think of best-by dates as maybe-getting-interesting-by dates.And to my trash can of aging staples I’ve added some hand-packed delicacies, to make sure that survival includes at least a few little pleasures.It was a French chef and confectioner who started preserving foods with heat and airtight containers, so of course he cared as much about the quality of the result as he did about its longevity.Fans of Cougar Gold age their cans for years, sometimes decades.But because everything stays in the can, moisture included, the flavor and texture are unlike a true cheddar’s.

But the appreciation of can-aged foods wasn’t unknown in the United States.

Food technologists often refer to it as “retort off-flavor.” But it’s only off in comparison to the results of ordinary cooking.

It’s really just another kind of cooked flavor, an extremely cooked flavor, and it can be very good.

My first bite reminded me of the aroma of canned chicken spread. Standard canned goods aren’t generally deemed age-worthy.

Food technologists define shelf life not by how long it takes for food to become inedible, but how long it takes for a trained sensory panel to detect a “just noticeable difference” between newly manufactured and stored cans.


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