Perfectly Preserved Centuries-Old Cherries Unearthed At Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon

Photo: JacobH / iStock / Getty Images

A team of archeologists made a stunning discovery amid renovations at George Washington's Mount Vernon estate. The team uncovered storage pits beneath the cellar of Washington's mansion containing dozens of glass jars of perfectly preserved cherries and other fruits, including gooseberries or currants.

"Finding what is essentially fresh fruit, 250 years later, is pretty spectacular," Jason Boroughs, Mount Vernon's principal archaeologist, told the Associated Press in an interview. "All the stars sort of have to align in the right manner for that to happen."

The fruits are believed to have been preserved before 1775 by the slaves working at Washington's estate.

"The enslaved folks who were taking care of the trees, picking the fruit, working in the kitchen, those would have been the folks that probably would have overseen and done this process," Boroughs explained. "It's a highly skilled process. Otherwise, they just wouldn't have survived this way."

They sent the fruits to be genetically analyzed to see if they could determine what spices were used to preserve them for so long.

They also found some cherry pits and are hoping to plant them. However, most of the seeds aren't viable because water seeped into the jars when their cork seals failed.

While the fruits were well preserved and even smelled fresh, the archeologists did not attempt to eat them.

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