Elizabeth Ist coat of arms

Elizabethan Food Preservation

Queen Elizabeth Ist

"Queen Elizabeth Ist"


Elizabethan Food Preservation

There were no methods available to freeze foods so Elizabethan food varied according to the season. It was not economic to feed animal during the winter therefore animals were slaughtered in the autumn and preserved in salt. The problem was that food had a constant salt taste. Methods were introduced to disguise the salty taste. Spices were added to recipes.

These spices included pepper, mustard, saffron, cloves, cardimon and cinnamon. Elizabethan food was also served with a variety of sauces which also disguised the salty taste.

Potages and stews formed an important element in the diet of Middle and Lower class Elizabethans. Food processing was introduced to soften meat and vegetables. This consisted of soaking roots, leaves, seeds, nuts, and berries in cold water for several hours. This softening process made these food easier to digest. Salted meats and fish were generally rinsed in several changes of liquid before they were added to a dish. Pickling, desiccation and smoking were also found in old Elizabethan recipes for methods of preservation.

Elizabethan Food Preservation - The Stillroom
The Elizabethans preserved fresh flowers and herbs to use to flavour winter dishes. The preparation of preserved food took place in the Stillroom. In the Stillroom distillations, preserves and delicate floral syrups were prepared. The Stillroom was also used to prepare medicinal tinctures and herbal potions. But the most famous use of the Stillroom was to produce alcoholic beverages.

Elizabethan Food Preservation - Jams, Marmalade and Curd
The expanded use of Sugar was a feature of Upper Class food but it was still expensive so honey was used in many Elizabethan recipes as a sweetener. Jams, marmalades and curds were enjoyed by the Elizabethans and made from a variety of fruits (some home grown and some imported).

Elizabethan Food
Elizabethan Era Index

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