As I inch closer and closer to my 65th birthday, I’m beginning to accept that — despite my fears of getting older — I have really only become a better version of myself over the years.
It’s something we all have to confront as the clock keeps ticking, and while some folks prefer to flat out deny the number of years they’ve spent here, it’s always better to simply accept it. After going through the process myself, I started wondering what other things in life get better the more they’ve been around.
So, here it is…a small list of 7 interesting things that get better with age:
- Wine: Well, I knew that wine would make the list, but I didn’t know specifically what made it become so much more complex and flavorful. This mostly applies to reds, where their tannin’s, sugar, and natural acidity combine over the years, giving it a more rich flavor and creamier texture. Important factors in the aging of wine include temperature, exposure to light, and humidity.
- Cheddar Cheese: Cheeses labeled “aged” have a sharp, intense taste that adds punch and sophistication to any dish. Cheddar cheese is aged for a minimum of nine months, and up to 5 or 6 years. “Old cheddar” is aged for 12 months, and “extra old” has been aged for 18 months. Stronger still are those aged for 3 years or 5 years.
- Cast Iron Skillets: Maybe your grandmother passed her recipes down to you — and, if you’re lucky, she included her scrumptiously time-seasoned skillet as well! A well-cared-for pan, if you use it properly, will only get better with age and time. During cooking, oil will bonds to the surface of cast iron, making its surface increasingly nonstick. This process is known as seasoning. With a well-seasoned skillet, you can actually cook with less oil than in a regular pan—and the more you cook with your cast iron, the better it will perform.
- Beef: When beef is aged, the naturally occurring enzymes break down the meat fibers, making the beef tender. At the same time, moisture in the meat evaporates, thus condensing the beef’s flavor. Without aging, beef would be hard to eat.
- Balsamic Vinegar: Balsamic vinegar is made from a reduction of sweet, white Trebbiano grape juice called “Mosto Cotto,” which must be aged in wooden kegs for a minimum of 12 years (aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena or di Reggio Emilia) and as long as 100 years to intensify its flavor and to achieve a sweet, viscous concentrate before it is bottled and ready for sale.
- Fine Leather: As it ages, leather will begin to develop natural markings. New leather generally smells stronger and more artificial — even if it’s 100% genuine leather. This is in stark contrast to aged leather, which has a softer, more subtle odor that many people prefer. However, old leather is slightly stronger than its counterpart. This is due to the fact that it’s already been stretched and pulled on plenty of times, making it more resilient. Aged leather is much softer than its counterpart, featuring a softer and more forgiving texture.
- Seedlings: They may start off small, but seedlings can grow to incredible heights — perhaps a metaphor for the potential within us all!
So, that does it. Join the discussion…I’d love to hear from you!
As always, I am…The seasoned, Boomer Explorer.