[Sca-cooks] Spices for preservation of meats

Suey lordhunt at gmail.com
Sat Nov 18 10:47:31 PST 2006

Misconceptions have sprung up such as the medieval application of spices 
to preserve meat. Some herbs can preserve blood but generally food was 
preserved with salt. Thyme, for example, was used with honey in 
conservation of foodstuffs but spices were not incorporated unless salt 
or other preservative was added. Meats that were kept over the winter 
months buried in salt, not spices. Further there is absolutely no 
evidence that spices were used to mask disagreeable tastes such as 
salted meats or spoiled food. Stomachs then, as today, could not 
tolerate rotten victuals.
     Other items for preserving food are oil or another grease, sugar or 
honey, lemon juice, vinegar, or pickle sauces or meats and fish were 
smoke dried. Spices were added  to these preserves only to enhance or 
change the taste and then only sparingly. Remember pepper alone was as 
expensive as the purchase of a slave or a sheep.  We find spices in 
nobles' household accounts but lower classes not only could not afford 
spices, they seldom had meat as hunting grounds were owned by the nobles 
and it was forbidden to hunt on them. Meat was for the nobleman it was 
thought that as he needed it for strength in wars riding his horse and 
wearing armor.

Christy Campbell or Ysabelle wrote:
Can anyone point me at information on the period uses of spices to preserve meat?

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