[Sca-cooks] Leftovers, questions and discussion [long]

Euriol of Lothian euriol at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 8 08:01:43 PDT 2010

The "myth" that spices were used to cover up the flavor of spoilage has been 
well debunked for a number of years now. First, people new spoiled food would 
make them sick. Two, spices were expensive. Would you throw expensive spices on 
bad food and eat it knowing it would make you sick?

I think there is something out there that tells the first reference of this myth 
was in the late 19th or early 20th century.

There are quite a number of recipes from period sources that describe a 
preservation technique. I would also highly recommend Cariadoc & Elizabeth's 
"Camping without a Cooler" article/class.


From: Fields Family Farm <fields at texas.net>
To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org
Sent: Wed, September 8, 2010 10:56:32 AM
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Leftovers, questions and discussion [long]

I have a couple of comments and questions on this line of conversation, but
with a caveat - I have done no research (yet) into period cooking.  I'm
mainly on this list to get good recipes.  :)

>From more general reading into history, I was under the impression that what
we would consider spoiled food was often eaten, even by those wealthier than
peasants.  Weren't some spices even used to cover up the spoiled flavors?

As for food poisoning, it's my impression that today we have much more
'delicate stomachs' than was common in period.  I know that one can build up
resistances to many of the 'poisons' caused by spoilage bacteria, to the
point where they don't really affect the eater much, if at all, and
apparently such built up resistances were common.

As for 'pease porridge in the pot nine days old', I know of a technique
still used today to prevent food spoilage - put a tight lid on the pot while
it is still hot enough to kill the bacteria, and then let the fire die.  If
the lid is tight enough, and the porridge was hot enough, no bacteria are
there to spoil it.  Heat the pot back up the next day when adding more to
it.  I've heard of 'stews' that were added to for many days this way without


I remember reading somewhere (in a book about period cookery, not some
> random place, but I cannot remember where) that the lower classes would
> basically put all their food in one pot (vegetables, grain, bacon etc) and
> boil it up, and then the next day just add some more to whatever was left
> over and so on and so on. The 'pease porridge in a pot nine days old' rhyme
> was quoted in support of this. This seemed rather dubious to me at the
> time,
> not to mention a recipe for serious food poisoning.
> Angharad
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