Most of us already know that cheese and wine taste better with age. But the great taste of aged food doesn’t end with these delicious pairings — it’s just the beginning. Aging gives the flavors in some foods time to blend together, so the taste becomes more concentrated and smooth. Other foods are aged and fermented to bring out their savory tang. Still, others are cooked and baked one day and served the next when the flavors have enhanced and improved with time.
Of course, aging foods to bring out their flavors isn’t something new. This concept has been around since the Middle Ages. Initially, the reason for aging food was purely out of preservation so communities could store up for the off-season or in anticipation of hard times like famine or war. Today, curing is still one of the most common ways to age and preserve foods. This takes place when moisture is drawn out of the food using salt, or sugar. Endless different flavors can be used in the curing process — herbs, spices, and even chocolate — all adding to the wonderful tastes and textures. Depending on the type of food, curing can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to reach the perfect combination of texture, saltiness and flavoring.
Then there’s fermentation, which isn’t just a new trend. We’ve been fermenting foods for thousands of years though various methods. Douchi, fermented black soybeans, have been around since 165BC. The concept, however, remains the same — converting the starches and sugars to good bacteria, which preserves the food and changes its flavor.
Take a trip back in time to explore twenty popular foods that not only hold roots in ancient history but get better with age.
There’s no doubt that the popularity of aged foods is on the rise, and for good reason. Their unique tastes and textures make eating an exciting experience. And now more than ever, foodies and gastronomes are exploring their relationship with foods, enjoying the exceptional flavors that come from aging, curing and fermenting. There’s nothing better than trying old foods in ways that you haven’t before. Better yet, you can start with this awesome list of aged foods, while exploring their rich history.