Shipwreck Food & Drink: Still Edible After All These Years

Lars Einarsson/Kalmar County Museum

Divers are renowned for finding strange things at the bottom of the sea. From ancient machinery to mysterious underwater structures to new and exciting species, we can be in the middle of it all. However, some of the most interesting discoveries have to do with so-called perishable items. While stone and metal can last for centuries, food is not supposed to stand up to the test of time. Or is it? I’m not talking about Twinkies, here. I mean real food that real people ate centuries ago. Food that is still edible today. Take a look…


170-Year-Old Shipwreck Beer Smells Gross

Ever seen those “Born On” dates on beer bottles? Can you imagine one that says “Born in the 19th Century?” That’s what divers found when they discovered a nearly 200 year old shipwreck off the coast of Finland’s Adland Islands. Maybe the bottle didn’t say exactly what date it was made, but the 150 bottle of brew contained enough of their original contents that researchers could tell that the beer once tasted much like the modern stuff. After so long under the sea, some water seeped in, creating an overall unpleasant smell, yet the brew was still technically drinkable.


170-Year-Old Champagne Recovered from the Bottom of the Sea

The divers who discovered the preserved beer in Finland also found some pretty incredible wine. Sparkling wine, as a matter of fact. 168 bottles of the ancient bubbly was found, and more incredible than that, the libation was actually well preserved. In fact, researchers were amazed to find the champagne so well preserved while resting at a depth of more than 160 feet. The wine had a leathery, flowery taste, and had remarkable low acidic levels. Since the discovery, many winemakers have begun experimenting with aging wine underwater.


Divers Discover 340-Year-Old Dairy Product in Shipwreck

Usually milk will last for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Cheese a little longer. But not much more than that. Can you imagine some cheese from 340 years ago actually still within its sell by date? That’s what researchers found in 1980 with the Swedish royal vessel Kronan. The warship had been sitting at the bottom of the Baltic Sea since 1676, and ever since researchers found it, relics have been turning up regularly. Then one day divers found a black tin can. When they opened it, the smell hit them. Cheese from the 1600s that’s still edible? Pass the crackers!


Divers discover 2,000-year-old Roman shipwreck that is so well preserved even the FOOD is intact

Modern day canners and food preservers could learn a thing or two from ancient Rome. We know this from the wreck found off the Italian coast. Resting in about 200 feet of water, the shipwreck had been mystifying local fishermen for years as they kept reeling in clay pot fragments. When divers finally found the wreck, they realized it contained over 200 amphora which were well sealed. So well sealed that researchers believe much of the food inside is still intact. Pickled fish for making oil, grain, wine and oil are all believed to be on the wreck.

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