Mountain House has been making backpacking food for over 45 years. On their website, the company says that their food will still taste good in 30 years from its manufacture date. We are going to see if that is true.
In 2018 my grandparents moved to Reno, NV from their home in Connecticut where they had lived for 42 years. They said this was to be closer to my brother, cousin, and I. When they came, they brought a lot of my dad’s stuff that he had left behind. Some of the stuff was his old backpacking camp gear. In that box was a packet of Mountain House freeze-dried Scrambled Egg Mix. We didn’t know how old it was, so we contacted Mountain House to confirm the manufacturing date for us. My dad sent them a picture of the packet. Mountain House confirmed the date was January 2, 1995. Just short of 25 years old.
I wondered if it tasted as good as new pouches, so we thought about doing a taste test. Thankfully Mountain House still makes the Freeze-Dried Scrambled Eggs with Bacon.
To test this, I was thinking about conducting a taste test with my dad’s help. We would cook the new scrambled eggs and bacon pouch alongside the older freeze-dried meal. Only my dad and I would know which meal was which. We would closely follow the directions on the back of the package so the taste would be correct. Then we would serve them to a tasting panel.
We asked our family, friends, and neighbors if they would sit on our taste panel for this experiment. They would try each of the dishes, labeled (A) and (B). After tasting each, they would answer a set of questions for us on a 1-5 scale:
- What were the differences between the dishes?
- Which was (A) and which was (B)?
We would also ask them to tell us their overall impressions of the food.
In the cooking of both pouches, we followed the directions precisely. One of the differences between the two meals was that the 1995 pouch instructed us to add cold water to the powdered mix and then cook in a pan. The 2018 pouch instruction called for the addition of boiling water and let stand to rehydrate.
Prior to serving, my dad and I noted that the 1995 meal looked like hot, rehydrated, powdered food. The 2018 meal looked like scrambled eggs with crumbled bacon.
We asked the tasting panel, that was five family, friends, and neighbors, to individually score their thoughts on a card. The results have been counted below.
Dish A: 1995 Pouch – Freeze Dried Scrambled Egg Mix Flavored with Real Bacon, Smoke Flavor added
Percent of responses by criteria
Dish B: 2018 Pouch – Freeze Dried Precooked Scrambled Eggs with Bacon
Percent of responses by criteria
Next, we asked the tasting panel if Dish A tasted like Dish B. The response from all five tasters (100%) was NO, the two dishes did not taste alike.
Then we asked if the group could also tell which dish was which. The group responded 100% correctly that Dish A was the 1995 pouch and Dish B was to 2018 pouch.
When my dad and I looked at the combined responses from the group it was hard to tell if one dish was better than another. When we were cooking, the newer eggs and bacon looked a lot more like fresh egg and bacon than the older pouch.
The recipe and manufacturing process had clearly changed over 24 years. This may be a reason why the group found a difference in tastes.
When we talked about the results with the group after they were done scoring, their thoughts were different than we had expected. They told us that even though the newer dish looked nicer, the older dish tasted better. They also said that both dishes would be welcome when backpacking.
So, even though the group told us that the 25-year-old pouch had more flavor than the 1-year old pouch, the recipe had changed. For that reason, we cannot conclude that the Mountain House 30-year taste guarantee is true. We can say that the food is still edible and contain plenty of flavor.
We had a fun time testing this and writing about it. See you on the trails this fall!
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