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What Did 17th-Century Sailors Really Eat? Tsai, Grace, and Elizabeth Latham.. Texas A&M University, 21 Jun 2017. Experiment. doi: 10.18258/9544
Recipes will be made using historical ingredients imported from Europe, such as bay salt from historical salines, heirloom grains and livestock, and water from a natural aquafor.
Selective microbiological plating, DNA extraction, polymerase chain reaction, and 16s rRNA validation of strains will be used for microbiological analysis to understand which microbes are growing on the food.
Nutritional testing will be done using protein, fat, water, carbohydrate, saline assays. Additional tests that are deemed relevant will also be used on a case to case basis depending on the food item.
The primary challenges include the difficulty in controlling factors on a ship that is open to the public. Due to the cost of even producing one set of barrels, we were unable to make triplicates. Keeping the food items free of modern and outside contaminants that are historically incorrect is a true challenge. We have methods to try to prevent this (i.e. sterilization using ethanol of all implements used to retrieve samples, and also a sterile sensor and pump to remove liquids without exposure). However, there is no foolproof way to do this in such an environment.
Biostatistics will be used to analyze the findings and find trends in the microbiological and nutritional values. This information will then be translated to what it would likely mean for the sailors on 17th-century ships who actually ate these items.
This project has not yet shared any protocols.