Food Preparation in the Middle Ages

Castles and manor houses had large fully equipped kitchens with baking ovens and fireplaces for smoking and roasting food. Other rooms led off the kitchen including the buttery, pantry and storerooms.

Peasants homes had only a fire pit and cauldron, which is why they lived mainly on stew or soup (pottage).

Sometimes peasant families had shared access to an oven for baking.

It was important in the summer months to preserve as much food as possible to sustain a household through the winter months. Any food that couldn’t be preserved could only be eaten in season.

Meat and fish were preserved by using salt and then dried, smoked or pickled. Vegetables and fruit were dried.

Using salt in the drying process made the food taste very salty, so to compensate for this the food was heavily spiced.

Food was cooked by boiling, baking, roasting and frying, and cooking utensils were made from iron, clay and wood.

A large boiling pot (kettle) was used to make stew or porridge. Iron pans were used for frying and ladles were made from iron, clay and wood.

A mortar and pestle was an essential requirement as it was used to grind herbs and spices to flavour the food.

When served food was eaten with the fingers or by use of a knife for cutting. Soup was eaten straight from the bowl.

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