Expert Sent to ‘Disarm’ Ancient Tin of Fermented Herring

25-year-old tin of fermented herring found in cabin

A man notified Norway's Armed Forces after discovering a swollen tin of fermented herring that dates to 1990.

Most people have had the experience of finding very old and questionable leftovers that need to be quickly disposed of, but few encounter food so puffed-up and vile that they need to notify the armed forces. That happened recently when a Norwegian man found a 25-year-old tin of fermented herring that had been lost in his mountain cabin for decades.

Cabin owner Inge Haugen found the swollen can of fermented fish peeking out under the eaves of his roof. He says the can had actually managed to lift up the entire roof about two centimeters. Haugen was concerned because a tin of surströmming, or fermented herring, is a traditional Swedish delicacy that is enormously malodorous even while fresh. There’s no telling what might happen when a can is opened after 25 years.

Worried that the can might suddenly explode at any moment, Haugen called all his neighbors to warn them of the potential “stink bomb.” According to The Local, he even notified Norway’s Armed Forces.

Sweden’s Surströmming Academy, an organization dedicated to promoting fermented herring, is sending out herring expert Ruben Madsen to deal with the can.

“If there’s any fish left in the can,” he said. “I’m going to eat it.”

Madsen told The Local that there isn’t any risk of the can actually exploding, but he confirmed that the contents will be very, very smelly.

Madsen is excited to eat the 25-year-old surströmming and says his greatest fear is that there might not be any fish left.


“The biggest risk is that the fish never stopped fermenting and all that’s left is a can of smelly sauce,” he said.