While pirates still exist today, the peak incidence of pirates occurred during the 17th century which was referred to as the Golden Age of Piracy. At that time, thousands of pirates sailed the open seas attacking ships and stealing goods. Due to the amount of time spent at sea, fresh foods including fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy were hard to come by. On the contrary, dried foods such as beans, salted meats, sea biscuits and pickled vegetables and fruits were the main staple on long voyages. Because fresh fruits and vegetables didn’t last very long before going bad, many pirates would frequently suffer from malnutrition and illnesses caused by lack of vitamin C. Keep reading more below to learn about what pirates ate while at sea.
Top Pirate Foods
To begin with, pirates did not have a healthy diet in general. Since fresh foods didn’t last very long while at sea, most vegetables and meat were usually pickled or salted to preserve the food. Some of the most popular foods for pirates included biscuits, dried beans and salted beef jerky. Supposedly, although pirates were at sea they didn’t usually eat fish, because it took too much time to go fishing that it wasn’t worth it. In addition, dried plants were another common food that helped provide pirates with a good source of protein. For example, beans and legumes were very popular items on pirate ships that provided fiber. As stated above, fresh fruits and vegetables tended to go bad fairly quickly on voyage so many pirates became sick with scurvy caused by a vitamin C deficiency. When available, lime juice was sometimes drunk to provide a source of vitamin C.
What did Pirates Drink?
In terms of what they drink, fresh and clean drinking water was very difficult to come by during the Golden Age of Piracy, even on dry land. In addition, for pirates that were on ships at sea, it was essentially impossible to transport and maintain an adequate supply of fresh drinking water while on a voyage. As a result, many seamen drank grog, beer or ale since water was not readily available. Also, many pirate ships had cows and goats on the ship, so the pirates would have milk when the foods were starting to run out. In fact, pirates would eventually butcher the cows and chickens for meat if needed. As far as stronger drinks, pirates also liked to drink rum, gin, and wine when it was available. And that just sums to what pirates ate!
How Did Pirates Stay Healthy?
In general, the life of a pirate was often short lived. Many pirates lost their lives during battle, or became ill and passed away. On average, the life expectancy for pirates was no more than two years. Oftentimes, their families never even knew what had happened to them. In addition, pirates were sometimes beaten and threatened with death on board. In terms of staying clean on board, bathing didn’t involve freshwater because that was saved for cooking. Instead, when it came time for pirates to clean themselves, they usually would take a swim in the ocean. Bathing wasn’t a common occurrence amongst the pirates, and sometimes a lack of hygiene also contributed to a pirate’s demise. Likewise, pirates did not brush their teeth as the toothbrush that we use today was not invented until 1938. If pirates ever did clean their teeth, they would use a device called a “chew stick” which was not very effective in keeping teeth clean and free of plaque.
We hope you enjoyed this article about what pirates ate. If you’re interested in learning more about pirates, why not book a tour on the Marigalante pirate ship? Located in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, it’s one of the area’s top tours. The Marigalante pirate ship is an authentic 17th century replica where guests enjoy a day cruising Banderas Bay. Along the way, guests are treated to live entertainment including singing, dancing, and acrobatic fighting. Plus, a delicious gourmet meal is served and there is a premium open bar as well. There are both day and evening tours available and always check the website for current promotions and special deals. Also, make sure to book your tickets in advance as the Marigalante pirate ship sells out fast!