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September 2019

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cairistiona7 in photo_scavenger

Preserve...

This one has a double meaning, as it's a photo I took of preserves--in the form of pickles--that were in turn preserved by, well, mud.  These came from an excavation of the steamboat Arabia, which hit a snag and sank in the Missouri River near Kansas City in 1856.

preserved preserves photo IMG_1252_zpsb401ecfe.jpg

It's amazing to me that after all this time, they still look good enough to eat!

The shipwreck was discovered in 1988, after the river had changed course, buried in a farmer's field. Parts of the ship and the cargo it was carrying are now on display in a museum in Kansas City. The level of preservation of the relics, due to the anaerobic conditions of the mud, is astounding, to say the least. More about the Steamboat Arabia here, if you're interested.

(The ketchup may have been walnut or mushroom ketchup, judging by its color--in the 1800s, ketchup wasn't solely a tomato-based condiment like it is now and Wells & Provost were also known for those varieties of ketchup. And more trivia: the brother of Stephen Provost of Wells & Provost eventually moved to California, where he started a company that would eventually become Del Monte, a well known canned food manufacturer here in the U.S. I have cans of Del Monte green beans in my pantry. There's an interesting blog post about the pickles and the Steamboat Arabia in general, here. And I'll shut up now... get me started on that era in American history and I don't know when to quit...)

Comments

Fascinating - and they do look good enough to still eat.
I wonder if, when they first dug them up, they might have opened a jar and at least gave them a sniff!
Imagine plowing your field in the Midwest, and finding a shipwreck! That's amazing.
There's been quite a few shipwrecks on the big rivers here, the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri. Most aren't as historic as the Arabia, though there was another similarly preserved in river mud, the Bertrand. It was a steamboat like the Arabia, heading to the goldfields of Montana from St. Louis with a load of cargo, but sank in the Missouri River near Omaha, Nebraska, in 1865. Its cargo was recovered roughly 100 years later, but those artifacts were found on federal land, so became the property of the Fish and Wildlife Service. They're preserving the items just like the private Arabia Museum is doing, but that museum currently is off display due to, ironically, flooding!
That's amazing. What a discovery. And the pickles looks just fine and ready to eat.
Wouldn't it be something if they were still edible after all this time?
I've been there! It's been years, and I know I enjoyed myself, but all I remember is the big wheel and lots of pretty buttons.
I wondered if you'd been. :) There were soooo many things--including the buttons and beads, which all looked absolutely new. It was almost hard to take it all in, but I think it was the food that most fascinated me.
Oh, this is wonderful! I love this kind of stuff as might be able to tell from my entry for this prompt. I will enjoy looking at the links you provided. They really do look good enough to eat. I wonder if anyone tried them...
I just saw your post and squee'd a little. *g* History preservation kinda does that to me, what can I say.

And thank you! I'm trying to remember if the tour guide said anyone had tried the pickles when they found them... next time I go there, I'll have to ask!
This is so awesome! What a gread find, in many senses of the word. *g* There was a TV documentary on German TV some time ago when the longevity of preserves of several kinds were examined. Some of those, even home-made ones, were older than 50 years, and some volunteers dared to eat them. All still were ok from the food quality part, but most didn't taste as they should or well enough to eat. One was a can of canned sausage, about 50 years old - and still fit to eat. This somewhat still boggles my mind, but also fills me with joy.
How interesting! I've heard of people buying ancient bottles of wine and finding that it's still quite safe to drink, but not of preserved food. I would think these pickles might have lost something in the flavor department, even if they were deemed safe to eat.
I know from own experience that often pickled things or chutneys and such change their flavour quite a bit, even after only five years or so - still fit to consume, but not necessarily delicious. ;o) In the documentary the question was whether the food was still safe to eat. The (voluntary) test persons said in most cases that it was bland but ok, though not necessarily good; but they didn't have many things with spices apart from some pickled gherkins.