• Norway edition
 
Stinky herring tin to be 'disarmed' after 25 years
The can of surströmming in the picture is not the one mentioned in the article. File photo: Wrote/Flickr

Stinky herring tin to be 'disarmed' after 25 years

Published: 10 Feb 2014 16:33 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Feb 2014 16:33 GMT+01:00

A fermented herring expert has been called to help "disarm" a 25-year-old can of the odorous Swedish delicacy that managed to literally raise the roof of a cabin in northern Norway.

"If there's any fish left in the can, I'm going to eat it," Ruben Madsen of Sweden's Surströmming Academy told The Local.

Madsen is set to travel to a cabin in the Norwegian mountains next week to help "disarm" a recently discovered can of fermented herring dating from 1990.

Cabin owner Inge Haugen found the forgotten can after peeking under the eaves to find a swelling can of surströmming that had been expanding over the past two and half decades. He reckoned the bulging tin had raised the cabin's roof by about two centimetres.

The find left him concerned that the can might explode at any moment, prompting him to warn his neighbours. Norway's Armed Forces were also notified about the impending "stink bomb".

Surströmming, or fermented herring, is a traditional Swedish delicacy, but its odour is notoriously foul. In the beginning of autumn, it’s not uncommon for Swedes to gather to enjoy the smelly fish at what is called a surströmmingsskiva (fermented herring party).

Such parties are less common in Norway, which boasts its own fermented fish dish, known as rakfisk, which most often consists of trout that has been salted and fermented for several months.

Haugen's wife Bjørg told The Local that the can was forgotten during one particular festive evening back in March 1990 when the couple hosted a party at their cabin, located in Trysil, with surströmming imported from Sweden.

"We had three cans. We ate two and my husband took the third and put it up under the roof, because we had eaten enough. Then he forgot about it," she said. "There's going to be a gruesome smell."

Despite initial fears expressed by Haugen and others, surströmming expert Madsen said the aging can of herring poses no danger to the public.

"There really isn't any risk for an explosion. Of course, some fermented herring might come spurting out when we open it. And yes, it will smell," he said.

News of a "disarmament" event planned for February 18th has attracted wide media attention across Sweden and Norway, with hundreds of people having notified Haugen they plan to attend.

"There are going to be more people there than there were at Barack Obama's inauguration," Madsen said with a laugh before theorizing about what lies behind the "unbelievable" media attention generated by Haugen's quarter-century old can of fish.

"It might be because there is an actual story behind this can of forgotten herring. It might also be that people are craving a simple, positive story."

Madsen explained that he gets "two or three calls a year" from people who have found old cans of fermented herring and don't know what to do with them.

However, the discovery of the can in Norway has the fermented herring aficionado's mouth watering at the prospect of tasting surströmming that's been aged to perfection over the past 25 years.

"I have my own collection of vintage surströmming with several cans that are more than 15 years old," he said.

"The taste certainly gets richer with age. The longer you wait to open a can, the more complex the flora of tastes you get."

Madsen invoked a musical analogy to compare the richness of aged surströmming to that eaten right off the shelf.

"Think of the difference between Wagner and Chopin," he explained.

"With Wagner, you get hit repeatedly with the same tones. But with Chopin, you can hear every instrument, every tone. It's a much more complex sound, which is much like the richer taste you get with an aged can of fermented herring."

Madsen's biggest fear about his upcoming Norway herring adventure is finding there's no fish left in the 25-year-old can.

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

But even if there's no fish left in Haugen's herring tin, Madsen plans to bring along a few newer cans of surströmming so the hundreds of onlookers on hand can get a taste for themselves.

"After we open the can it's going to party, party," he said.

DON'T MISS: Sweden's Big Macs taunt Norwegians at border

The Local (news@thelocal.no)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Feature
Feature: Norway's Dalai Lama dilemma
The Dalai Lama visiting Oslo in 2005. Photo: Håkon Mosvsvold Larsen/Scanpix

Feature: Norway's Dalai Lama dilemma

A planned visit by the Dalai Lama has Oslo torn between its will to warm up frozen ties with China and warnings from the public not to compromise its stance on human rights, writes AFP's Pierre-Henry Deshayes. READ () »

'Some rapes less bad than others': psychiatrist
Abused girl File photo: Shutterstock

'Some rapes less bad than others': psychiatrist

A psychiatrist in Norway has called for rape to be divided into different categories, with some -- such as when a man penetrates a woman he has gone to bed with while she is sleeping -- classed as less serious. READ () »

Sri Lanka demands arrest of suspected Tamil Tiger
Panchakulasingam Kandiah, leader of Norway's National Council of Eelam Tamils, kneeling in front of a tombstone set up outside Norway's to symbolise the killing of Tamils ​​in Sri Lanka. Photo: Heiko

Sri Lanka demands arrest of suspected Tamil Tiger

Sri Lanka's government has sent out an alert demanding that Norway's government arrest Perinpanayagam Sivaparan, an Oslo-based Tamil, claiming that he is the new leader of the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). READ () »

Norway Conservative jailed for nude pic theft
Tor Johannes Helleland. Photo: Drammen Municipality

Norway Conservative jailed for nude pic theft

A former Conservative party politician who stole nude pictures from the iCloud accounts of several girls he knew and posted them on the internet has been sentenced to 60 days in prison. READ () »

Oslo mulled scrapping Trafalgar Christmas tree
The Trafalgar Square tree on Christmas morning in 2011. Photo: Kevan Davis/Flickr

Oslo mulled scrapping Trafalgar Christmas tree

Oslo bureaucrats this year proposed ending a nearly 60-year-old tradition of sending a Christmas tree to Trafalgar Square in London before their suggestion was rejected outright by the city's mayor Fabian Stang. READ () »

City bike bidders asked to scrap 1,300 bikes
City bikes in central Oslo. Photo: Clear Channel Norway

City bike bidders asked to scrap 1,300 bikes

Oslo's new city bike tender will require the winning bidder to scrap the city's existing 1,300 bikes and replace the 300 shelters where they're kept, leaving the leading bidders puzzled. READ () »

Kjos fills nine out of ten Dreamliner seats
One of the Asian crews on one of Norwegian Air Shuttles' new Dreamliner Aircraft. Photo: Norwegian

Kjos fills nine out of ten Dreamliner seats

Norwegian Air Shuttle last year filled nine out of ten seats on its new long-haul routes to the US And Thailand, despite the highly publicised delays faced by its new Dreamliner aircraft. READ () »

Norway and China hold secret Oslo talks: NRK
A demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Oslo in 2010 against the detention of Liu Xiaobo. Photo: Greg Rødland Buick/Amnesty International|Flickr

Norway and China hold secret Oslo talks: NRK

China has begun secret negotiations with Norway over ending the diplomatic freeze triggered by the award of the Nobel Peace Price to a leading Chinese dissident four years ago, NRK has reported. READ () »

Nazis and anti-racists threaten 'Congo village'
A screen grab from footage from the 1914 centennial celebrations of Norway's constitution. Photo: YouTube

Nazis and anti-racists threaten 'Congo village'

With both neo-Nazis and anti-racists apparently threatening to burn down his planned recreation of a 1914 Oslo 'human zoo', the Norwegian-Sudanese artist Mohamed Ali Fadlabi is now more convinced than ever of his idea. READ () »

Icelanders frosty at Christmas tree snub
The ceremonial cutting of a Christmas tree intended for London in 2009. Photo: Oslo City Council

Icelanders frosty at Christmas tree snub

A proposal from Oslo's mayor to stop sending an annual Christmas tree to Reykjavik has sparked a furious reaction from Icelanders, many of whom have interpreted the move as a calculated snub. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
International
Icelanders frosty at Christmas tree snub
Tech
VIDEO: Norway's incredible rolling robot
National
Norway teen has lived in cave for a year
National
Hikers to wear green hats if 'open to romance'
National
Norway PM backs gay church weddings
National
Badger gets stuck in car grille and survives
National
Man at recycling plant finds $16,000 in old safe
Culture
Norway celebs plan own funerals in new show
National
Norway man finds adult toy in cod's stomach
International
McCain to vote down would-be envoy
Education
Oslo to get first Muslim primary school
Culture
VIDEO: Norway fans in second Sherlock skit
Advertisement:
Culture
Clooney to film North Sea divers movie
Society
VIDEO: Norway police's chilled way with drunk wows US
Education
VIDEO: Norway skydiver dodges meteorite
National
Oslo shortlisted for Green Capital 2016
International
Work to start on world's tallest wooden house
Culture
NRK boss: Slow TV 'difficult to joke with'
International
Stoltenberg named as next Nato boss
Society
'Silly walk' sign enrages roads agency
Norwegian tattoos McDonald's bill on arm
Sport
Norwegian man 'forgets' luxury boat for two years
Society
VIDEO: Oslo transformed into miniature city
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

321
jobs available