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 Trade
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 (blanch pouder).
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 salad recipes
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 recipes
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 in salads
Rose Hips - the fleshy, bright-colored fruit of the rose plant
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 Recipes
Chibol - a type of small onion
Cubeb - a berry from Java which resembles peppercorn and tasting like allspice
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 Elizabethan Recipes
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 replaced vinegar
Warden - a hard pear with blackish bruises used in Dessert Food Elizabethan Recipes
Old Elizabethan Dessert Recipes