The early Crusaders had brought to England elements of
Eastern cookery requiring spices such as pepper, cinnamon,
mace, ginger, cloves, raisins, saffron and sugar and these
were introduced into Old
Medieval recipes and passed down to Elizabethan Recipes.
Spices were extremely expensive and therefore used in
cooking recipes by the Upper Classes. The use of Spices in
Elizabethan cooking recipes therefore became a matter of
both social fashion and social prestige. Spices used in
Recipes from the Elizabethan Era were a sign of wealth and
high social status.
The section and era covering Elizabethan Food provides the History, Facts and Information about the Food
and Drink consumed during the Renaissance Era. The Food and Drink, Feasts and Banquets and Peasant Foods
eaten by the people during the era.
Old Elizabethan Recipes
Elizabethan Times - the Spice
The Spice Trade was extremely
important. Oriental spices constituted the most profitable and dynamic
element in European trade and this drive for profit through new spices (
as well as the quest for gold and silver) encouraged the explorations of
Elizabethan seamen such as Raleigh and Drake.
Food Preservation methods used
in Medieval Cooking Recipes and Elizabethan recipes
The spices introduced into
Medieval Cooking recipes were welcomed as their distinctive flavours
disguised the strong taste of salt which dominated many elements of
English Medieval food. Salt was used to preserve meat. There were few
alternative methods of preservation available although smoking, pickling
and desiccation were also used in various old recipes. And this was
still the case in the Elizabethan era so many many Medieval food recipes
were included in Elizabethan recipes.
Spices used in Medieval Cooking Recipes
and Elizabethan recipes
The potent ground spices
used in Medieval cooking recipes were called 'Good Powders'. Pungent
spices such ground ginger or a blend of cinnamon and mace, cubeb,
pepper, or clove was called 'Strong Powder' (Pouder Fort).
Sweet Substances used in Old Elizabethan
Dessert Food Recipes
Elizabethan Times - Unusual
Plants, Herbs & Roots used in Old Elizabethan Recipes
Sugar was imported to
England, having been obtained from sugar cane. Any imported foods were
expensive and therefore out of the reach of Lower classes and used
primarily by the Elizabethan Upper Classes and Nobility. Extensive use
of Sugar was known to blacken the teeth and black teeth became an
Elizabethan status symbol. This fashion fad was so popular amongst Upper
Class Elizabethans that cosmetics were used to create an illusion of
black teeth. Honey was a common sweet substance used in old Elizabethan
Dessert food recipes - honey was produced in England and therefore far
less expensive, and commonly used in Elizabethan dessert food recipes
for the Lower classes. Ground sweet aromatic spices such as aniseed,
fennel seed, and nutmeg were referred to as 'Sweet Powder' (Pouder Douce).
Ground ginger blended with powdered sugar was called White Powder
The term "vegetable" was
used only rarely during the Elizabethan era. Instead the term "herb"
covered all green plants, roots and herbs. Food items which came from
the ground were only are considered fit for the poor. Only vegetables
such as rape, onions, garlic and leeks graced a Noble's table.
The following little known
plants and herbs used in Old Elizabethan recipes were as follows:
Avens - this herb was used in Elizabethan salad recipes
Borage - a blue-flowered plant with hairy leaves that tasted
like cucumber used in Elizabethan salad recipes
Clary - a plant of the sage family which cuts the grease of
fatty meats and fish
Dittany - a plant of the mint family with oval leaves and
clusters of purplish flowers were used used in Elizabethan
Galingale - an aromatic root and the main ingredient of
galyntyne which was a pungent medieval sauce
Hyssop - a blue-flowered plant of the mint family whose
leaves cut the grease in fatty meats and fish
Laver - an edible purple seaweed used in Elizabethan salad
Orach - a garden plant with red and green leaves used as a
vegetable and a salad herb.
Pellitory - a climbing plant of the nettle family whose
leaves were used used in Elizabethan salad recipes
Purslane - a plant with a pinkish fleshy stem and small,
round leaves; the leaves were
used as a potherb or in salads.
Rocket - mildly pungent plant grown like spinach and eaten
Rose Hips - the fleshy, bright-colored fruit of the rose
St.John's-Wort - a plant with brownish stalks & narrow
leaves which were used in Elizabethan salad recipes
Southernwood - a shrubby fragrant plant with yellowish
flowers and bitter-tasting leaves
Elizabethan Times - Unusual
Fruits and Vegetables used in Dessert Food Elizabethan Recipes
The following little known
fruits and vegetables used in old used in Dessert Food Elizabethan
Recipes were as follows:
Unusual Fruits and Vegetables
used in Dessert Food Elizabethan Recipes
Blaunderelle - a variety of white
apple used in Dessert Food Elizabethan Recipes
Bullace - a purple wild plum used in Dessert Food Elizabethan
Chibol - a type of small onion
Cubeb - a berry from Java which resembles peppercorn and tasting
Damson - also called bullace is a this bluish black plum is
named for the place of its origin - Damascus.
Medlar - a small, brown, apple like fruit used in Dessert Food
Porret - a young leek or onion
Skirret - a species of water parsnip
Verjuice was a a form of wine vinegar or soured lemon juice made
with the juice of green or unripened fruits such crab apples.
Verjuice was a popular ingredient in cookery which often
Warden - a hard pear with blackish bruises used in Dessert Food