[Sca-cooks] Geoponica garum recipe was Re: Garum and cheesecak

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Wed Aug 29 05:52:25 PDT 2007

Geoponica is a 10th Century Greek agricultural manual which may derive from 
a 6th Century Latin text.

A translation of Geoponica 20.46:1-6 can be found in Curtis, Robert I., 
Garum and Salsamenta; E.J. Brill, 1991, pg 12-13.  To quote the text:

"1.  The so-called liquamen is made in this manner:  the intestines of fish 
are thrown into a vessel and salted.  Small fish, either the best smelt, or 
small mullets, or sprats, or wolffish, or whatever is deemed to be small, 
are all salted together and, shaken frequently, are fermented in the sun.

2.  After it has been reduced in the heat, garum is obtained from it in this 
way:  a large,strong basket is placed into the vessel of the aforementioned 
fish, and the garum streams into the basket.  In this way, the so-called 
liquamen is strained through the basket when it is taken up.  The remaining 
refuse is alex.

3.  The Bythinians prepare it in this manner:  it is best if you take small 
or large sprats, but if not, wolffish, or horse-mackeral, or mackeral, or 
even alica, and a mixture of all, and throw these into a baker's kneading 
trough, in which they are accustomed to knead meal.  Tossing into the modius 
of fish two Italian sextarii of salt, mix up thoroughly in order to 
strengthen it with salt.  After leaving it alone for one night throw it into 
a vessel and palce it without a lid in the sun for two or three months, 
agitating it with a shaft at intervals. Next take it, cover it, and store it 

4.  Some add to one sextarius of fish, two sextarii of old wine.

5.  Next, if you wish to use the garum immediately, that is to say not 
ferment it in the sun, but to boil it, you do it this way.  When the brine 
has been tested, so that an egg having been thrown in floats (if it sinks, 
it is not sufficiently salty), and throwing the fish into the brine in a 
newly-made earthenware pot and adding in some oregano, you place it on a 
sufficient fire until it is boiled, that is until it begins to reduce a 
little.  Some throw in boiled down must.  Next, throwing the cooled liquid 
into a filter you toss it a second and third time through the filter until 
it turns out clear.  After having covered it, store it away.

6.  The best garum, the so-called haimation, is made in this way:  the 
intestines of tunny along with the gills, juice and blood are taken and 
sufficient salt is sprinkled on.  After having left it alone in the vessel 
for two month at most, pierce the vessel and the garum, called haimation, is 

Three other texts (which I don't have available) describe the process of 
preparing garum; (Marcus?) Manilius's Astronomica and texts attributed to 
Gargilius Martialis and Rufus Festus.  Curtis warns that Martialis may 
contain medieval intrusions and that the recipe attributed to Festus is 
obviously of medieval date.


> What is this "Geoponica"? Do you have a copy of this historical garum
> recipe?
> Stefan

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