Spread the love

What was the closure of this 117-year-old time capsule that has just been opened ?

© Image generated by DALL-E AI for Presse-Citron

So what objects were hidden in this box ? Historical artifacts ? A message from our ancestors to our destination ? Scientific data ? Well nothing all this, even if this small container has a certain scientific interest. This is a can of powdered milk, therefore 117 years old which was preserved and found in the ice of Antarctica. While we often talk about the food of the future with, in turn, 3D printed foods or even rice increased in protein, this time, scientists were able to have a window wide open on past food production methods. It may seem trivial, but this relic is a precious testimony to the technology and eating habits of a bygone era.

The rediscovery of ’ a culinary heritage

It all began in 1907, when Sir Ernest Shackleton was in full preparations for his long and perilous journey to the South Pole. To sustain his crew along the journey, he selected the New Zealand brand Defiance to provide them with powdered milk. On December 31, 1907, their ship left the port of Lyttelton, a port located near Christchurch, New Zealand. The Nimrod expedition with Shackleton at its head begins, with the aim of being the first to reach the South Pole.

Their ship, the Nimrod, is loaded with essential supplies, including 1,000 pounds of powdered milk, 192 pounds of butter and two cases of cheese. Unfortunately, everything did not go as planned, and the extreme conditions forced them to abandon their supplies at base camp, including the famous box of Defiance powdered milk.

This vestige of their long journey was found a century later thanks to the efforts of the Antarctic Heritage Trust during a restoration project. This simple box of milk is a witness to the logistical challenges that polar explorers of the 20th century had to face, and therefore a real object of scientific curiosity.

Analysis and comparison with the modern milk

Skelte G. Anema, co-author of the study in question and chemist at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre, underlines the importance of this discovery: “ Shackleton's dehydrated milk is probably the best preserved sample made during the pioneering years of commercial powdered milk production“.

Chemical analyzes showed that this old sample and contemporary samples of powdered milk, when compared, showed quite striking similarities< /strong> in their composition. Mainly in their essential nutritional components: fatty acids, phospholipids and proteins. Despite all our technological advances and the changes in our agricultural practices over the last century, the fundamental composition of milk powder has not evolved that much.

This may be due to the intrinsic nature of milk itself, of which certain essential qualities are very stable despite dehydration processes. Whether it is the roller drying technique (used at the beginning of the 20th century) or the techniques we use today, such as spray drying. The excellent preservation of the sample from the Nimrod expedition proves that this method of food preservation is very effective.

The differences notable

Even if the primordial composition of the milk was relatively unchanged, the sample still differed in its quality and safety food.

The most important distinction being the increased presence of aromatic compounds, which is explained by oxidation of the sample. These compounds can alter the flavor and taste of milk, which would certainly affect its palatability. The sample in question probably wouldn't taste very pleasant. Modern production and preservation techniques have largely evolved to prevent any oxidation process by reducing the exposure of foods to oxygen.

Shackleton's milk also contained much higher levels of iron, lead or tin, likely from the preservation materials used like tin cans. These substances, in too large doses, are toxic to the body. Today, stainless steel has become a standard in the preservation of certain foods, improving the safety and quality of products.

This little can of milk therefore had a lot to teach us. Certainly, technological progress has remarkably changed the way we consume food, but the preservation techniques of the last century had nothing to be ashamed of. Will this powdered milk, so well preserved, have allowed Shackleton and his crew to set foot on the South Pole? Unfortunately no. After 73 days of hiking and 3,000 km, the team of the expedition will stop 157 km from its objective, with a crew exhausted by the weather conditions. On the other hand, it was the first expedition to reach a record point in the south. Shackleton, in a letter addressed to his wife, wrote to her: “ I thought you would prefer a live donkey to a dead lion “.

  • A 117-year-old can of powdered milk from the Nimrod expedition was found and opened for analysis.
  • L&amp ;#8217;sample, from a nutritional point of view, was quite similar to current milk powder.
  • On the other hand, this one contained substances due to oxidation as well as several heavy metals.

📍 To not miss any news from Presse-citron, follow us on Google News and WhatsApp.

[ ]

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116