The Evolution of Gingerbread – The Effect of Ingredient Availability, Food Technologies and Culinary Advances on Development of Gingerbread Recipes

Topic:  Shelf-Life Study of Original and Modified 15th Century English Gingerbread Recipes

Team Mentor:

Dr. Aubrey Coffee, Lecturer
Dept. Food Science and Human Nutrition

Katie Queen, Erin Hiller, Breanna Wingate, Aubrey Coffee
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Clemson University

Dr Coffee and studentsCategory: Innovative Concept
Student Member   
Competency: Knowledge of Product Shelf-Life

Justification: When creating a new product or monitoring the quality of an existing product, it is important to understand the effect of packaging and storage on the finished product.  Ingredient functionality can play an important role in the development process and the storage life of the product, in this case gingerbread. Conducting a shelf- life study between two gingerbread formulations and different methods of storage, a Culinologist can determine the best method of preservation for the particular product.
Objectives: The objective of this research is to understand the effects of time on 15th century gingerbread samples, the best way to preserve them, and the preservative nature of the ingredients in the formulation.

Methods: Samples of the original and modified gingerbread were tested for initial CFU/g counts and then stored in vacuum-sealed packages and Ziploc® bags.  For each gingerbread samples, a three by two design was used with three storage environments (room temperature, refrigerator, and freezer) and two storage methods (Ziploc® and vacuum sealed bag). After six months, the samples were tested for CFU/g and compared to the beginning CFU/g as well as other outcomes from the shelf-life study.

Results:  Initial data reveals that vacuum storage was overall better than Ziploc® and that the CFU/g counts were inconsistent with what should happen in relation to the various storage temperatures.  Further analysis is being completed on the results.

Significance: A better understanding of the results from the shelf-life study will ultimately help in the development of a modern gingerbread product based on the results

Topic:  White Gingerbread: The History, Functionality, and Availability of its Ingredients

Team Mentor:

Dr. Aubrey Coffee, Lecturer
Dept of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Bethany Richardson, Brittany Linton, Adam Rubelman, Adriana Wingate, Tim Foxworth, Aubrey Coffee
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Clemson University

tillman hall gingerbread houseCategory:
Innovative Concept
Division: Student Member   
Knowledge of Regional & World Cuisines; Formula Development

Justification:  Many foods that are commonly eaten today contain deep roots in ancient cuisines, with the majority of them occurring within the last millennia.  Medieval foods, in particular, are the origins of several foods common in present-day cuisine, for example gingerbread.  Gingerbread has evolved significantly since its birth and has led to the development of several other foods as well.

Objectives: The objective of this research was to investigate the functionality, availability, and cultural relevance of ingredients from a 1591 white gingerbread recipe and the effects of modern technology on the gingerbread formulation.  Investigating functionality and availability was key in order to determine how and why certain ingredients were used during this time period.  Furthermore, cultural relevance was also an important factor in that it was essential to deduce which types of social classes consumed this particular food as well as what the food actually meant within the societal context.

Methods: The white gingerbread recipe was prepared using the most historically-applicable methods and tools that were available in the 16th century, with modifications when necessary.  After preparing the recipe in its original form, technological influences were added in order to modify the recipe. Preliminary sensory testing, carried out on the group members themselves, was completed on the product’s sensory characteristics by testing combinations of the modified and original gingerbread bases with modified and original fillings.  Several sensory aspects such as taste, odor, texture, and mouthfeel were examined.

Results: Research revealed that this recipe classification leans more toward a confection than a baked product, due to the fact that the product required no cooking time in the oven and was largely composed of sugar. Initial sensory results described the original gingerbread as grainy and quite sweet while the modified version had a much smoother texture.  Fillings from both samples had a pungent ginger taste, with the modified version having a smoother texture as a result of how the ingredients were processed.

Significance to the Culinology field: Increased knowledge of the cultural impact on the recipe and the origin of the ingredients and recipe will assist in understanding ingredient functionality, the development of flavor and how to modify or develop new formulations. This knowledge could be used to recreate a recipe and develop it further while keeping the essentials of the original recipe and cultural impact consistent, that is to say to keep the societal and emotional attributes associated with the product the same.  Recipe recreation is significant in that it will help researchers to better understand the ingredients, flavors, and techniques associated with the recipe and furthermore could aid in the creation of new products and infusions.