Washington: As far as baked goods go, fruitcakes are pretty durable. But could the classic tea cake last 106 years? An incredible expedition in Antarctic led to the discovery of a 106-year-old cake that has been found in perfect edible condition.
Conservators from Antarctic Heritage Trust believe they have found a 106-year-old fruitcake among artefacts from an expedition that took place between 1910 and 1913.
“Fruitcake was a popular item in English society at the time, and it remains popular today,” Lizzie Meek, conservation manager for artefacts at the trust, says via email, reports National Geographic. The cake was made by Huntley & Palmers, a company has been in the baking business since 1822. The details were revealed at the time of the exploration as the cake was wrapped in a tin-plated iron alloy tin.
“The cake probably dates to the Cape Adare-based Northern Party of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition … as it has been documented that Scott took this particular brand of cake with him at that time,” the Trust said. Explorers of the Antarctic, devourers of fruitcake: The five members of Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova expedition.
The fruitcake, made by British company Huntley and Palmers, was found in “excellent condition” inside an iron alloy tin, still wrapped in paper.
“Finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake in amongst the last handful of unidentified and severely corroded tins was quite a surprise,” Programme Manager-Artefacts Lizzie Meek said.
“It’s an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favourite item on modern trips to the ice.”
So what do conservators do with a 100-year-old tea cake?
According to the New Zealand-based charity, there was quite of bit of work that went into treating the cake, including rust removal, chemical stabilisation and coating of the tin remnants.
“Deacidification of the tin label and some physical repair to the torn paper wrapper and tin label was also carried out,” the Trust said.
After being treated the cake, along with all artefacts found, will be returned to the site.