March 5 ...
The great plague of the great sea voyages of previous centuries was scurvy, the highly unpleasant and sometimes fatal disease caused by a deficiency of Vitamin C – the result of long periods of time living on hardtack and salt meat but no fresh fruit and vegetables. There were many theories advanced over the centuries as to the cause of scurvy, and in retrospect the anecdotal evidence of the value of fresh greens and citrus had been around for centuries before James Lind published his classic Treatise on Scurvy in 1753. In spite of his findings (that citrus juice was the treatment of choice), it was forty more years before the Navy ordered lemon juice to be routinely supplied to its ships. Such is the way of the beaurocracy.
On this day in 1776, Captain James Cook sent a letter to the military physician Sir
As many gentlemen have expressed some surprise at the uncommon good state of health which the crew of the Resolution, under my command, experienced during her late voyage, I take the liberty to communicate to you the methods that were taken to obtain that end. … I shall not trespass upon your time in mentioning all those articles, but confine myself to such as were found the most useful.
We had on board a large quantity of Malt …This is without doubts one of the best antiscorbutic sea-medicines yet found out
….Sour Kraut, of which we had also a large provision, is not only a wholesome vegetable food, but, in my judgement, highly antiscorbutic and spoils not by keeping. A pound of it was served to each man, when at sea, twice a week or oftener, when it was thought necessary.
Portable Soup or Broth was another essential article, of which we had likewise a liberal supply. An ounce of this to each man, or such other proportion as was thought necessary, was boiled with their pease three days in the week; and when we were in places where fresh vegetables could be procured, it was boiled with them and with wheat of oatmeal every morning for breakfast, and also with dried pease and fresh vegetables for dinner. It enabled us to make several nourishing and wholesome messes, and was the means of making the people eat a greater quantity of greens than they would have done otherwise.
Further, we were provided with Rob of lemons and oranges; which the surgeon found useful in several cases."
To make a Veal Glue, or Cake Soop, to be carried in the Pocket.
Take a Leg of Veal, strip it of the Skin and the Fat, then take all the muscular or fleshy Parts from the Bones; boil this Flesh gently in such a Quantity of Water, and so long a Time, 'till the Liquor will make a strong Jelly when it is cold: This you may try by taking out a small Spoonful now and then, and letting it cool. Here it is to be supposed, that tho' it will jelly presently in small Quantities, yet all the Juice of the Meat may not be extracted; however, when you find it very strong, strain the Liquor through a Sieve, and let it settle; then provide a large Stew-pan, with Water, and some China Cups, or glazed Earthen Ware; fill these Cups with Jelly taken clear from the Settling, and set them in a Stew-pan of Water, and let the Water boil gently 'till the Jelly becomes thick as Glue: After which, let them stand to cool, and then turn out the Glue upon a Piece of new Flannel, which will draw out the Moisture ; turn them once in fix or eight Hours, and put them upon a fresh Flannel, and so continue to do 'till they are quite dry, and keep it in a dry warm Place: This will harden so much, that it will be stiff and hard as Glue in a little Time, and may be carried in the Pocket without Inconvenience. You are to use this by boiling about a Pint of Water, and pouring it upon a Piece of the Glue or Cake, of the Bigness of a small Walnut, and stirring it with a Spoon 'till the Cake dissolves, which will make very ftrong good Broth. As for the seasoning Part, every one may add Pepper and Salt as they please, for there must be nothing of that Kind put among the Veal when you make the Glue, for any Thing of that Sort will make it mouldy.
[The Whole Duty of a Woman,Or, An Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex. 1717]
Tomorrow’s Story …
The Englishman’s Principal Dish.
Quotation for the Day …