Preserving of Foods through the Middle Ages

I started by trying to find as many originals as I could, then went to the best secondary sources. I also spent a day with Betty Cook, and later many e-mail messages, and part of a day with Caridoc. So I thought I'd start with the oldest medieval reference that I could find and work up to the "newest" medieval recipes. The different kinds of things that they used in preserving were, Herbs, which included sugar, salt.......vinegar/verjuice, wine, lard, butter, leather... I'll point out these different things as we go through the recipes. Also tell you how long that some of them can go without refrigeration. which would be handly for events.
1) Apicius, Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome 1st century
2) Studia Orientalia Vol 60 10th century or Symposium Fare recipe Badinjan Muhassa
3) al-Baghdadi, A Baghdad Cookery Book Islamic 1226
4) A Selection from an Old Icelandic Medieval Miscelany 13th century
5) Forme of Cury English 1390
6) Le Viandier de Taillevent French 1392
7) Chiquart, Du Fait de Cuisine French 1420
8) Goodman French 14th Century
9)A Noble Boke off Cookry Ffor a Prynce Houssolde 1470 or 1467?
10) Platina Italian 1475
11) A Fifteenth-Century Cookbook Arabic 15th century
12) Um Tratado Da Cozinha Portuguese Do Seculo Portuguese 15th century
13) Pepys (1047) English 15th century
14) The Accomplish'd Lady's Delight in English 1675 Preserving, Physick, Beautifying, and Cookery
Secondary Sources from The Art of Cookery by Terence Scully: When out of season these meats & fish were available to cooks only in a 'preserved' state - that is, either smoked, pickled in brine, set in gelatin, or much more commonly, salted & dried, or simply dried. Fruits & nuts could be candied in order to prolong their life as a food beyond the brief season in which they happened to ripen. pg. 29 par 3. Each year households prepared tubs of a thick saline bath and undertook to preserve fresh meats for the coming winter. pg. 31 par 3 Honey had very early found its way into a good number of therapeutic medicines, candies, preserved compotes and of course, into that aristocratic beverage of northern Europe, mead. pg. 52 par 1 Out of seasons meats were available only in a 'preserved' state. Which is either smoked, pickled in brine, or more commonly, salted and dried. pg. 54 par 2 Animal milk could not be preserved, but its secondary products could. These are butter and cheese by an admixture of salt, by the same way it was added to fish and meats for protection. pg. 54 par 4 The medieval cook understood the mechanism of the process of drying and preservation. 'The virtue of salt is fieryso that it contracts, dries and binds whatever bodies it touches. If dead flesh is salted in time, it is very well preserved, as we can see in hams and other salted meats.' Platina. pg. 55 par 2 Pickling in a salt brine was the standard method of preserving meats and fish. pg. 55 par 3 Jelly or gelatin for things like stewed meat, or fish (water animals). pg. 56 whole page & note at bottom & pg. 57 par 1 & 2. also look at galentine. Honey and thick syrup note said from Platina. pg. 57 par 3 Roman cuisine wood smoked food. pg. 58 par 2 see note too Lamprey in galentine, a jelling preservative sauce. menagier de paris recipe 26 eels bath of salt. platina eels eel pie recipe VIII, 42 chiquart, recipe 34 pg. 76 whole page & see note 15 Short on vinegar, improvise book on wine Arnaldus de Villanova (1235? - 1311) pg. 82 par 2 & 3 & note 33
# Dish Country 1) How to Preserve Meat Without Salt. Roman 2) 3) Hais Islamic 4) Lord's Salt Icelandic 4b) Salsa Old Icelandic 5) Compost English 6) Fish and Meat Jelly French 7) Chiquart 8) Galantine for Carp French 9) A Noble Boke off Cookry Ffor a Prynce Houssolde 10) Olives and Pork Meat (2 dishes) Italian 11) Hulwa Arabic 12) Pumpkin Sweets Portuguese 13) Salmon English 14) To keep Asparagus all the Year English
(1) HOW TO PRESERVE MEAT WITHOUT SALT (Apicius 9) Ut carnes sine sale quovis tempore recentes sint: Carnes Recentes quales volueris melle tegantur, sed vas pendeat et, quando volueris, utere. Hoc hieme melius fit, aestate paucis diebus durabit. Et in carne cocta itidem facies. How to Preserve Meat Without Salt. Roman (1st to 10th Century) To have meat always fresh without salting it: Cover the fresh meat of your chioce with honey, but suspend the container and use whenever desired. It keeps better in winter; in summer it lasts only a few days. Do the same with cooked meat. The Romans and Greeks customarily preserved foods and wines in "amphorae," two-handled clay jars whose official measure was six gallons, seven pints. The Length of time the preserving process was expected to work can be deduced from Cato: If you would keep must [grape juice] for a year, pour it into an amphora and seal the cork with pitch. Immerse the amphora in cold water for thirty days. Then remove it and the must will be preserved for one year. "De Agri Cultura," 120. preserves: honey
(3) Hais al-Baghdadi p. 214/14 Take fine dry bread, or biscuit, and grind up well. Take a ratl of this, and three quarters of a ratl of fresh or preserved dates with the stones removed, together with three uqiya of ground almonds and pistachios. Knead all together very well with the hands. Refine two uqiya of sesame-oil, and pour over, working with the hand until it is mixed in. Make into cabobs, and dust with fine-ground sugar. If desired, instead of sesame-oil use butter. This is excellent for travellers. 2 2/3 c bread crumbs 2 c (about one lb) pitted dates 1/3 c ground almonds 1/3 c ground pistachios 7 T melted butter or sesame oil enough sugar We usually mix dates, bread crumbs, and nuts in a food processor or blender. For "cabobs," roll into one inch balls. Good as caravan food (or for taking to wars). They last forever if you do not eat them, but you do so they don't. preserves: dates, sesame-oil, butter, fine-ground sugar Baid Mutajjan Boil eggs, shell, and then fry in sesame-oil, and sprinkle with fine-brayed coriander, cinnamon and cummin. Take out of the frying-pan, and put into old murri, adding seasonings. If murri is not available, take the eggs out of the pan ; put into it a little water, salt and cinnamon, boil, and pour over the eggs. Another recipe : Fry the eggs without first boiling them, then throw in the seasonings, and spray with murri. preserves: boiling, frying, sesame-oil, murri
(4) Lord's Salt Icelandic p. 215/D1 One shall take cloves and mace, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, ginger an equal weight of each except cinnamon, of which there shall be just as much as of all the others, and as much baked bread as all that has been said above. And he shall cut it all together and grind it in strong vinegar; and put it in a cask. That is their salt and it is good for half a year. How to Make Use of the Salt Spoken of Above Icelandic p. 215/D1 When a man wants to use of this salt, he shall boil it in a pan over coals without flame. Then he shall take venison of hart or roe and carefully garnish with fat and roast it. And cut it up well burned; and when the salt is cold than the meat shall be cut up therein with a little salt. Then it can lie for three weeks. So a man may long keep geese, ducks, and other game if he cuts them thin. This is the best salt the gentry have. 4 grams each of cloves, mace, etc. 20 g of cinnamon 40 g of breadcrumbs 4 c strong vinegar I add 1 t of salt to 3 T of the spice mixture, 3 T of breadcrumbs and 2 c of vinegar, simmer it briefly, then use it to preserve a 2 c container of cooked, sliced meat or fowl (1 to 1 1/2 lb). Notes: We tried this recipe in order to have a way of storing meat without refrigeration for long events, such as Pennsic. In our experience, meat preserved this way keeps several weeks without refrigeration; it should then be used in recipes that include vinegar, since it tastes rather sour. Ordinary vinegar is 5%, which is just barely strong enough, so we normally mix it with stronger vinegar ("75 grain") from a gourmet food store. !Warning! Preserving foods can be dangerous; if you experiment with this recipe, be careful. According to our researches, either using vinegar of at least 5% acidity or boiling for 15 minutes before eating will protect you from botulism; we strongly advise doing both. We take no responsibility for the result of trying this recipe; before doing so, you may want to read up on methods and hazards of preserving food. meat picking recipe from Betty / Caridoc says it is "Lords Salt" Betty says 4 to 5 weeks without ref.
(4) Recipe 9 Another "salsa" Old Icelandic Medieval Miscellany 13th Century Grind mustard seeds, and add the third part of honey, and a tenth part of anise, and throw in canela (cinnamon), and grind it with good vinegar, and put it in a jar. It is good for three months.
(5) Compost. Mixed Pickles English Makes 2.3 kg/ 5 lb (Forme of Cury) The Medieval Cookbook by Maggie Black Compost. Take rote of persel, of pasternak, of rafens, scrape hem and waishe him clene. Take rapes & caboches, ypared and ycorue. Take an erthen panne with clene water & set it on the fire; cast all thise therinne. Whan they buth boiled cast therto peeres & perboile hem wel. Take alle thise thynges vp & lat it kele on a faire cloth. Do thero salt; whan it is colde, do hit in a vessel; take vyneger & powdour & safroun & do therto, & lat alle thise thynges lye therein al night, other al day. Take wyne greke & hony clarified togider; take lumbarde mustard & raisouns coraunce, al hoole, & grynde powdour of canel, powdour douce & aneys hole, & fenell seed. Take alle thise thynges & cast togyder in a pot of erthe, & take thereof whan thou wilt & serue forth. (CI.IV. 103.) 900 g/2 lb mixed parsley roots, carrots, radishes and turnips 450 g/1 lb white cabbage 450 g/1 lb hard eating pears 6 tablespoons salt 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon dried saffron strands 425 ml/15 fl oz/2 cups while wine vinegar 50 g/2 oz currents 575 ml/1 pint/2 1/2 cups fruity white wine 6 tablespoons clear honey 1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and black pepper 1/4 teaspoon each anise and fennel seeds 50 g/2oz white sugar Prepare the root vegetables and slice them thinly. Core and shred the cabbage. Put these vegetables into a large pan of water and bring slowly to the boil. Peel, core and cut up the pears and add them to the pan. Cook until they start to soften. Drain the contents of the pan and spread in a 5-cm/2-inch layer in a shallow non-metallic dish. Sprinkle with the salt, ginger, saffron and 4 tablespoons of the vinegar. Leave, covered, for 12 hours. Rinse well, then add the currants. Pack into sterilised storage jars, with at least 2.5 cm/1 inch headspace. Put the wine and honey in a pan. Bring to simmering point and skim. Add the rest of the vinegar and all the remaining spices and sugar. Reduce the heat and stir without boiling until the sugar dissolves. Bring back to the boil. Pour over the vegetables, covering them with 1 cm/1/2 inch liquid. Cover with vinegar-proof seals and store.
(6) 68. Gelee de Poisson Fish and Meat Jelly Le Viandier de Taillevent French 1490 Take any fish whose skin is covered with a natural oil, or any meat, and cook it in wine, verjuice and vinegar and some people add a little water (var,: a little bread); then grind ginger, cinnamon, cloves, grains of paradise, long pepper, nutmegs, saffron and chervil [?] and infuse this in your bouillon, strain it (var.: tie it in a clean cloth), and put it to boil with your meat; then take bay leaves, spikenard, galingale and mace, and tie them in your bolting cloth, without washing it, along with the residue of the other spices, and put this to boil with your meat; keep the pot covered while it is on the fire, and when it is off the fire keep skimmimg it until the preparation is served up; and when it is cooked, strain your bouillon into a clean wooden vessel and let it sit. Set your meat on a clean cloth; if it is fish, skin it and clean it and throw your skins into your bouillon until it has been strained for the last time. Make certain that your bouillon is clear and clean and do not wait for it to cool before straining it. Set out your meat in bowls, and afterwards put your bouillon back on the fire in a bright clean vessel and boil it constantly skimming, and pour it boiling over your meat; and on your plates or bowls in which you have put your meat and broth sprinkle grounds cassia buds and mace, and put your plates in a cool place to set. Anyone making jelly cannot let himdelf fall asleep. If your bouillion is not quite clear and clean, filter it through two or three layers of a white cloth. And salt to taste. On top of your meat put crayfish necks and legs; and cooked loach, if it is a fish dish. 70. Lamproie a la galentine. Lamprey in Galantine. LeViandier de Taillevent French 1490 Bleed a lampry as previously, keeping the blood, then set it to cook in vinegar and wine and a little water; and when it is cooked, set it to cool on a cloth; steep burnt toast in your bouillon, strain it, and boil it with the blood, stirring it to keep it from burning; when it is well boiled, pour it into a mortar or clean wooden bowl and keep stirring until it has cooled; then grind ginger, cassia buds, cloves, grains of paradise, nutmegs and long pepper and infuse this in your bouillon and put it, and your fish with it, in a bowl as was said; and put it in either a wooden or pewter vessel, and you will have good gelatine. preserves: gelatine
(8) Galantine for Carp French 14th C. Goodman p. 289/26 Miscellany Bray saffron, ginger, clove, grains of paradise, long pepper and nutmegs, and moisten with the greasy sewe in which the carp has been cooked, and add thereto verjuice, wine and vinegar and let it be thickened with a little toasted bread, well brayed and colorless (natheless strained bread maketh the best sauce) and let it all be boiled and poured over the cooked fish, then put onto plates. 1 1/2 lb catfish or carp 5 threads saffron 1/4 t ginger 1/4 t cloves 1/8 t grains of paradise 1/4 t pepper 1/2 t nutmeg 2 T "greasy sewe" (liquid from cooking fish) 2 c tart red grapes well mashed and strained through cheese cloth (for verjuice) (omitted) 2 t red wine (used white wine) 4 T wine vinegar (used white wine vinegar) 3 T bread crumbs Put spices together up to greasy sewe grill fish put spices on fish finish cooking
(10) Platina Italian 1475 To keep olives fresh so that you may make oil at whatever time you wish, you can do this; take olives from the tree and dip them in honey, and remove them when you wish to make new oil; you will find them as fresh as if they were straight from the tree. Pork meat is so moist that it cannot be kept long unless it is salted. When the pig is a year old it can be fit to be salted. The day before it is slaughtered one ought not let it have anything to drink, then the meat will be drier; then the flesh should be carefully salted, lest it start to spoil or taste rancid, and so that it is not damaged by worms or grubs. The you do the salting by spreading salt on the bottom of a cask or large jar, then the pieces of flesh, with the skin upwards. The meat should stay in the cask until it has absorbed the salt. Then it should be hung where the smoke can reach it. There are also lot of references in this book for preserving all kinds of fruits by, drying, oil, salt and honey. preserves: oil, salt
(11) Hulwa A Fifteenth-Century Cookbook Arabic 15th Century Its varieties are many. Among them are the sweets (halawat) made of natif. You put dibs [fruit syrup], honey, sugar or rubb [thick fruit syrup] in the pot, then you put in on a gentle fire and stir until it takes consistency. Then you beat eggwhite and put it with it and stir until it thickens and becomes natif. After that, if you want almond candy (halawah lauziyyah) you put in toasted almonds and 'allaftahu; that is, you bind them. Jauziyyah, walnuts; fustuqiyyah, pistachios; bunduqiyyah, hazelnuts; qudamiyyah, toasted chickpeas; simsimiyyah, toasted sesame; tahiniyyah, flour. [tahin]. You beat in the natif until it thickens. For duhniyyah you put in flour toasted with fat. As for halawah 'ajamiyyah, toasted flour with sesame oil until it becomes slack, and boil dibs or another sweet ingredient and put it with it. As for khabis, take dibs and put it on the fire until it scum rises, and skim it. Dissolve corstarch in water and put it with it.
(11) Hulwa A Fifteenth-Century Cookbook Arabic 15th Century Sugar Version: Honey version: 1 1/4 c sugar 1 c honey 1/4 c water 1 egg white 1 egg white 2 1/2-3 c or more nuts 1 1/2-2 c nuts =~10 oz Sugar version: Bring the water to a boil, stir in the sugar, continuing to heat. When it is dissolved and reasonably clear, turn it down to a simmer and put the top on the pot for two or three minutes (this is to let the steam wash down any sugar on the sides of the pot). Take the top off, boil gently until the temperature reaches the hard ball stage (250deg. - 260deg. F). Beat the egg white until it is just stiff enough to hold its shape. Pour the sugar syrup into the egg white, beating continuously. You now have a think white mixture; this is the natif. Mix it with chopped nuts (we have used almonds and walnuts) or toasted sesame seeds, or some mixture thereof. Squeeze the mixture into balls and set aside to cool. Note that as the natif cools, it gets harder and less sticky, so you have to work quickly; the hotter you get the syrup before combining it with the egg white (and hence the less water ended up in it), the faster this happens and the dryer the hulwa ends up. If you get past 260 deg., the syrup may crystallize on you as or before you pour it; if so, give up and start over. Honey version: Simmer the honey gently until it reaches a temperature of 280deg. - 290 deg. F. From that point on, the recipe is the same as for sugar, using the boiled honey instead of the sugar syrup. Note that honey requires a higher temperature than sugar to get the same effect. Also note that natif made from honey will be stickier that natif made from sugar (maybe you can solve this by getting the honey up to 310 deg. without burning it; I couldn't). So use a higher ratio of nuts to natif and have the nuts chopped more finely; this helps reduce the stickiness. You may want to roll the honey hulwa in sesame seeds or ground nuts, also to reduce stickiness. Toasted Sesame: To toast sesame seeds, you put them in a heavy iron pot over a medium to high flame, and watch them carefully. When the ones on the bottom begin to tan, start stirring. When they are all tan to brown, take them off the heat or they will burn. preserves: Honey, sugar
(12) Doce De Abobra - Pumpkin (Squash) Sweets Portuguese 15th Century Find a very hard pumpkin (squash) and cut it into pieces the desired size and thickness, peeling and cleaning out the inside. Then fill a shallow earthenware pan or bowl with cold water and add a handful of salt. Before mixing the salt that is in the bottom, add an egg. When it comes to the surface, and all you can see is a little piece the size of a ten centavo coin, dissolve the salt wih a wooden spoon. Strain this brine and pour into a container with the pieces of pump- kin. After soaking 24 hours, remove the pumpkin and put it immediately into cold water for 3 days, changing the water 5 or 6 times a day. After this period of soaking in cold water, check the pumpkin. If it is still salty, let it soak for another three days, changing the water like before and then boil it each day, and put the pumpkin in cold water again. On the third day, finish cooking it completely until a pin goes through the pieces. Remove the pumpkin from the water and let it drain well. Then put the pieces in a deep container, covering with a thin syrup. For 15 days the pumpkin pieces should stay in the syrup, and every day just boil the syrup, leaving the pumpkin covered in a container of hot water. Drain the water from the pumpkin pieces well and then put them into the syrup. While preparing this sweet, the syrup should be clarified with an egg white every othre day, and strain daily before adding to the preserves. After 15 days the preserves will be ready. They will be prettier if you add a new syrup on the last day. preserves: cooking the pumpkin, salt, sugar syrup To Clarify Sugar
(13) Pepys 1047 The recipes in this book are for the most part typical of the diet of the upper class in the 15th C. But most of the ways of cooking are the same as for the lower class, for example: smashing food to a pulp in a mortar, lots of a variety of spices, the same obsession with almonds, and the same mistrust of fruit ie being bad to eat. They also marinaded large animals for a day to make the "unpalatable, at least edible", then when cooking, added lots of herbs and spices. "It is commonly thought that such heavy seasoning was essential to disguise the smell and flavour of decaying flesh". This book also has interesting medical cures. Salmon roasted in sauce Cut your salmon in round pieces and roast it on a roasting iron, take wine and powdered cinnamon and draw them through a strainer, add therto onions minced small, boil them well, take vinegar or verjuice and powdered ginger and salt and add them to the liquid, lay the salmon in dishes and pour the syrup thereon and serve it forth. preserves: wine, vinegar or verjuice, ginger, salt
(14) The Accomplish'd Lady's Delight in Preserving pg 253 Number 26. To keep Asparagus all the Year. Parboil your Asparagus very little, and put them into Clarified Butter, cover them with it, and when the Butter is cold, cover them with Leather, and about a Moneth after refresh the Butter, melt it, and put it on them again ; then set them under Ground, being covered with leather. preserves: butter, leather
Bibiography 1) al-Baghdadi, A Baghdad Cookery Book (1226 A.D./623A.H.)(tr. A.J. Arberry) Islamic Culture April 1939. 2) Chiquart, Du Fait de Cuisine 1420 (tr. Terence Scully) Vallesia v. 40, pp. 101-231, 1985 Studia Orientalia Vol 60 or Symposium Fare recipe Badinjan Muhassa 10th century 3) A Selection from an Old Icelandic Medieval Miscelany 13th century 4) Forme of Cury 1390 5) Curye on Inglysch 14th century 6) Le Viandier de Taillevent 1392 8) A Noble Boke off Cookry Ffor a Prynce Houssolde 1470 or 1467? 9) Platina 1475 10) A Fifteenth-Century Cookbook 15th century 11) Um Tratado Da Cozinha Portuguese Do Seculo 15th century 12) Pepys (1047) 15th century 13) The Accomplish'd Lady's Delight in 1675 Preserving, Physick, Beautifying, and Cookery