[Sca-cooks] Leftovers, questions and discussion [long]

Fields Family Farm fields at texas.net
Wed Sep 8 20:25:14 PDT 2010

<<< As for food poisoning, it's my impression that today we have much more
> 'delicate stomachs' than was common in period.  I know that one can build
> up
> resistances to many of the 'poisons' caused by spoilage bacteria, to the
> point where they don't really affect the eater much, if at all, and
> apparently such built up resistances were common. >>>
> I would be interested in seeing any evidence to confirm this. A thousand
> years is not a very long time genetically for the human species.

The mutation to digest lactose into adulthood occurred as recently as 3000
years ago (up to three separate times), and yet it's already spread through
major portions of humanity.

Not that I'm claiming that there was a recent mutation involved in this.
Most anthropologists have humans starting as scavengers and carrion eaters.
We would have had a potential resistance to spoilage toxins, and even the
bacteria, built in for millions of years.

> Also, there's a difference to building up defenses to an organism and to
> the poisons excreted by the organism. Part of our food spoilage problems
> today are still coming from that killing the E. Coli and other bad beasties
> doesn't necessarily eliminate the toxins that they may have created while
> they were alive.

You're right.  The bacteria and the toxins are both dangers.  But antibodies
can/will be developed to not just the bacteria, but also to the toxins,
given sufficient exposure.

> <<< As for 'pease porridge in the pot nine days old', I know of a technique
> still used today to prevent food spoilage - put a tight lid on the pot
> while
> it is still hot enough to kill the bacteria, and then let the fire die.  If
> the lid is tight enough, and the porridge was hot enough, no bacteria are
> there to spoil it.  Heat the pot back up the next day when adding more to
> it.  I've heard of 'stews' that were added to for many days this way
> without
> spoilage. >>>
> In many ways this sounds like the beginnings of potted foods or canning,
> which started very late in our period. While this might help, we might not
> find them acceptable odds today. Although potted foods started in the middle
> of 16th C, it apparently took them until the beginning of the 17th C. to
> realize that it was much better to seal the food with fat while it was still
> hot rather than waiting for the food to cool down. Obviously the later
> method sometimes worked, but the former method works much better. The
> problem with just putting on a lid is sealing it tight enough and the chance
> that there is still some bacteria in the air that you are trapping in the
> container. Pouring in hot fat while the food is hot helps solve both these
> problems.

There's a pretty big difference between potted/canned foods and a
soup/stew/porridge reheated every day.  There's even a theory that reheating
every day is more effective in avoiding spoilage, in that there are some
bacteria spores that will live through typical cooking temperatures in their
spore state, but given a chance to leave the spore state (when the food
cools), they become vulnerable, and killed by the next day's heating.


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