340-Year-Old Cheese Recovered From Swedish Shipwreck

Sarah&Boston via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Sarah&Boston via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0 / Sarah&Boston via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

The secret to producing the world’s stinkiest hunk of cheese may be to let it molder at the bottom of a shipwreck for a few centuries. As The Guardian reports, divers recently discovered what they believe to be a remarkably pungent dairy product in a shipwreck off the Swedish coast.

The royal warship the Kronan met its watery grave in 1676, and since its rediscovery in 1980 close to 30,000 artifacts have been recovered from the wreckage. Among the most recent haul was a tin that had been embedded in the protective clay of the sea floor for the past 340 years. When it was brought to the surface, the change in pressure disrupted the container causing some of its contents to escape.

According to Lars Einarsson, the dive’s lead archaeologist, the stench was reminiscent of yeast and Roquefort—a funky type of blue cheese. Even as a self-proclaimed connoisseur of smelly cheese, Einarsson admitted to local media that this particular odor was “probably not for everyone” and he didn’t recommend giving it a taste: “It’s a mass of bacteria.”

After getting a good whiff of their discovery, the team sent the item to the lab for analysis. If their assessment is correct and the tin contains a cheese or butter of some kind, it still won’t come close to being the oldest foodstuff found on a shipwreck. Last year, archaeologists discovered a wreck off the coast of northeastern Italy dating to the 1st or 2nd century CE that was loaded with amphorae of garum, a Roman fish-based condiment.

[h/t The Guardian]

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