Vikings were farmers and their diet consisted mainly of livestock on their farms and produce they grew themselves. They also hunted and fished.
Their diet was not vastly different to our diet today but little is known of their eating habits. It is believed that they ate two meals a day.
Day Meal – (Dagmal)
Night Meal – (Nattmal)
On the farms they would have cows, pigs, sheep, goats and chickens. Pigs were popular because they were easy to breed. The animals all had individual uses, but they were also killed for their meat.
The goats and the cows were kept for the use of their milk. This would be churned to produce butter, cheese and buttermilk. The chickens were kept for their eggs, although Viking’s did also gather eggs from wild seabirds.
To supplement this, Viking’s also hunted animals like Elk, Deer and Bears. They also fished in cold water lakes and the sea. Salmon, trout and herring were plentiful.
Winters in Scandinavia were cold and food had to be preserved to see them through these harsh winters.
Meat and fish were smoked, pickled, salted and dried to preserve them. Vegetables and fruit were also dried.
Vegetables were grown, but not all vegetables we have today were available in Viking times. Vegetables that were available were onions, leeks, cabbage, parsnips, spinach, beans and peas. Carrots were also grown but these were not as we know them today, in Viking times they were white.
They baked flat-bread with stone ground wheat, barley, rye and oats, and picked wild fruit like berries and apples. Viking’s ate nuts as a treat. Many were imported and traded, however hazelnuts are believed to have grown wild.
For flavouring Viking’s used seeds and plants such as coriander, mustard, thyme, parsley, dill and horseradish. Wild honey was their only form of sweetener.
The main drink in Viking times was ale that was drank by the whole family. This was made of fermented barley and then flavoured. It was a weak drink and not as we would think of ale today.
They drank mead, a fermented drink sweetened with honey but as this was expensive to make, it was drank only on special occasions and at feasts.
Wealthy Viking’s would sometimes drink wine, but this could only be purchased by trading at the markets and it was expensive. Again it would mainly be drank at feasts.