Food & Agriculture

BriefHistory

Food & Agriculture

Cooking

There would be different utensils needed for cooking a cauldron for boiling water or stews made from iron hanging from a chain over the fire, iron frying pan, griddle, clay pots for storage or cooking in, wooden bowls, wooden hooped tubs, bone spoons, iron knives etc.

 

There were different techniques that were be used:

Stewing

This was a very versatile way of cooking for the family and groups cooked in the cauldron or similar, the stew could have meat and/or vegetables or a stew of fruit.

Broth

Similar to a stew again very convenient, broth or soup could be of peas or beans with herbs added being thicker than a stew but still relatively thin by today’s standard.

Roasting, Grilling & Toasting

Roasting of meat with grilling of fish, meat and things like apples which comes close to toasting by the fire.

Griddling & Frying

Using a griddle or an iron frying pan using oil or butter.

Baking

For bread and pies using the hot stones.

Cereal Pottage

Made from things like rye, or barley. Oats would be used for porridge.

Cereals

This would have been grown in fields nearby, each family had a long plot to grow their crop it was normally one furlong in length (220 yards / 201 metres) but narrow because either the scratch plough or the mould board plough pulled by two oxen could not be easily turned for the next farrow this saved time and effort. This was called ridge and farrow as the plough only turned the soil one way, unlike today’s plough which can be reversed the fields in time had long ridges and farrows which can be seen even to this day in some fields. So the field would normally be ploughed and manure spread in the Autumn for the winter weather to break it down, sown with seed in spring and harvested in early autumn with long handled scythes, the crop then raked up and put into sheaves before being carted away for threshing and storage, (this could be ground later by hand or in later times a mill) and the cycle starts again.

Desserts

Sweet omelettes, fruits mixed in a bread for puddings and milk/cream curds.

Cakes & Biscuits

Enriched bread, shortening of fats and oils with honey, they could produce shortbread.

Vegetables

Which would include purple carrots, parsnips small cabbages, peas beans, onions, leeks with wild roots such as burdock. Most of these could be stored as they are or dried for later use and the cats would help to keep the mice and rats at bay.

Honey

Was a sweetener and also used to produce a drink called mead.

Ale

This was brewed being a very weak drink so could be used like water as being fermented safer to use.

Fruits

Apples, plums, cherries, pears and berries again could be stored some in a dried state plums to prunes.

Dairy Produce

Cheese, butter, milk and eggs.

Fish

Such as perch, pike, trout, herring, salmon and eels along with shellfish, oysters, cockles and mussels all of these would most probably have been eaten straight away.

Meat

Oxen, pigs and sheep would have been slaughtered and cured using salt, especially any animal that could not have been fed during the winter months. The meat could have been hung up in the rafters of the living building as the constant smoke from the fire would help to preserve the precious meat, also another source of meat would be ducks and geese but they can be slaughtered when needed without the need to preserve. As can be seen the storage building was very important to the welfare of the village.

Cows

Were kept for their hides, meat, calves and milk, which in the summer could be up to three times a day.

Sheep

Kept for their wool, meat and lambs could be let astray in the summer under the eye of a shepherd. So the diet of the Anglo Saxons / Englisc like the diet during the second world war was plain but healthy, the big difference being that there was no great reserves so a poor harvest for what ever reason soon effected every one especially the lowest in society.

The Storage Building

Used to store the Spelt wheat, rye (for bread) oats for animal feed and porridge stored in large clay urns.

Food Production

The vegetables and fruits would have been grown near the home in plots for the vegetables, with the pigsty nearby compost for the plot, the fruit either as trees or bushes again nearby with that important bees hive for honey and pollination of the fruit.