Who Has Crackers? Some 340-Year-Old Cheese Was Discovered In A Shipwreck

It was June 1676. The Scanian War was in full effect as summer inched across the Baltic Sea. The Swedish launched their navy in an attack on the allied Danish and Dutch at the Battle of Öland. Their naval bombardment was spearheaded by a behemoth war vessel called the Kronan. It was the one of the largest warships ever built. Its deck supported the weight of 110 6- to 36-pound guns and 800 men. As the ship made a quick maneuver, the wind caught the sails and she capsized in the summer sea. The provisions, guns, and men went into the drink and a gun powder magazine exploded and tore the bow clean off. Only 42 of the 800 men survived the day. The rest sunk to the bottom of the inky Baltic.

Divers have been exploring the Kronan shipwreck for some time. On their latest two-week expedition they found a living link to the past in a tin buried in the sea floor. Lars Einarsson, the Swedish head of the dive, remarked on the curious find, “divers found it ‘pressed into the clay’ of the seabed, and that the fall in pressure when it reached the surface had allowed some of the contents to leak out of the threaded lid.” The substance was a mass of bacteria that was once most likely a cheese. The smell was reported as “probably not for everyone.”

Einarssoon gave a description of the contents of the leaky tin as “like a mixture of yeast and Roquefort, a sort of really ripe, unpasteurised cheese.” Unfortunately no one was brave enough to sample the flavor, or maybe they didn’t have any crackers on hand. The tin was sent off for further testing and analysis and will serve as a small talisman linking us to history and our global love of cheese.

Though, we don’t know if 340 years is the optimal aging for any cheese. That is ripe.

(Via The Guardian)