anglo saxon guide


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Find out about methods of cooking (fires, ovens how our ancestors cooked meat, bread and vegetables)

cooking methods

General methods of cooking
The cutting and gathering of wood was a summer occupation. Any crops would be growing and need little attention, but it was not yet harvest time. The villagers would take carts out into the nearby forests. Peasants would often have a "right to gather" fallen branches in woods.   Apart from their own needs fire wood bundles were often part of their Feorm or due they had to deliver to their Lord.
Where it was naturally available coal might be used as fuel and charcoal was certainly produced, but fire wood was by far the most commonly consumed fuel.
Fire Making and ovens:
Most men and women would have their own set of fire steels, flints and tinder boxes. There are occasionally found in pagan graves. Dependant on what was easily available; the hearth was lined with clay tiles or stones and was heart of each house. Commonly this would be a fire pit in the centre of the room. Smoke would escape through a hole in the roof or just be filtrating out through the thatch.

Sometimes heated stones were dropped in pots of water to boil it as a prelude to boiling food.

Larger brick ovens would often have been located in separate buildings and burnt wood faggots.  Sometimes they would consist of a chamber for fire with flues to carry hot air to another chamber where the food was cooked.

Earth Oven: This was created from a pit dug in the earth. Heated stones would be laid in them. Then meat covered with clay and leaves was laid in the pit and the food covered over with hot stones

Cooking Utensils

Pots and Cauldrons could be made from metals such as Iron, Bronze, Copper or Tin. Clay pots were used but soapstone was popular as it was tough and easier to clean than other crockery.


Methods of Cooking

Boiling and stewing was main method used by the Anglo Saxons. Often salted meat was later boiled.
e.g. Goose put in floured bag with milk or butter and lowered into cauldron. Beans, barley and vegetables might be in other bags in the same cauldron.

Roasting and Grilling was used for fresh meat and fish
Griddles and frying pans were in use e.g for cooking flat breads or omelettes.

For unleavened bread, flat bread and round cakes this was prepared by mixing meal (ground barley, wheat etc) with salt. This would then be cooked on a griddle or upon the hot heath stones near the fire.
Adding yeast produced leavened bread. Yeast could obtained from the dregs that remained after brewing ale – or even some forms of mould.
Bread was cooked in a pan, upon hearth stones or in the oven. Ovens could be single chambers or two chambers. In the single chamber you put in wooden faggots and burnt them. When the faggots where ash you would take out the ash and put in the dough. This bread would be blackened and discoloured so you would have to cut or break off the crust.
Alternatively, you could cover the bread with an upturned pot and then pile the hot embers ash on top.
Another method was the two chamber oven. Wood would be burnt in one chamber and the bread cooked in the adjacent chamber, which was heated by hot air from the other.

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