Aged sardines have been a thing for at least a century, and, given that sardines were first tinned a century and a half ago, it’s basically been a pastime as long as they’ve existed. After eating some you’ll know why.
There’s a particularly delicious brand of magic that infuses this oily, rich, bony, saline fish when it hibernates for years in a wallet-sized metal cocoon. Sardines also happen to be one of the cheapest tinned fish investments so their ROA—Return On Aging—regularly tops the aged fish market indexes.
Two other items to note before I let you go. One, our Portuguese sardine fixer Manuel always makes sure the fish we save as vintage come from the biggest, fattest catches of the year, the end of summer haul, tinned fresh, never frozen. Even if you eat these before aging them out they’re the best sardines we have. Second, our crack illustrators have painted a new box for each vintage and they are truly handsome.
"Canned sardines, as you may know, improve in texture and flavor over time, reaching a turning point at about four years and continuing their evolution for ten years or more... The sardines are best eaten just as they are with good fresh bread, excellent butter, and perhaps a little fleur de sel."
Ed Behr, The Art of Eating