Search This Blog


I've been watching a lot of BBC programs about real life farming in certain time periods... here are just a few (in time-period order):

Medieval/Secrets of the Castle (circa 1200s):
Tudor Monastery Farm (1485-1603):
Tales from the Green Valley (James 1st, 1620):
Victorian Farm (1837-1901):
Edwardian Farm (1901-1910 or 1912):
WarTime (after WWII) Farm:

Then I did some reading. I enjoyed as it gave great info about the medieval period diet. 

A Colonial perspective, from 1678, is found in the vid:

A look at the 1900's is at  A peek at 1940's Britain is at

See how people might have lived during the Frontier expansion in the USA, at  Post Civil-War Texas in USA (late 1800's) is at

I wanted to go back as far as possible so I started watching the Stone Age videos ( ).

What I learned is that even tho the Medieval diet might be boring, we can make do with the following:

POTTAGE (a thick soup or stew, which is NOT Porridge which is just grains/cereals and sometimes legumes boiled in milk or water):
Any kind of grain (seed of any grass, including wheat, barley, etc), can be made into a pottage or gruel.  Just crack the grain a little to make it easier to cook, and boil with water.  Can add something different each time to change the taste.  Leeks, onions, carrots, etc.  They didn't have potatoes back then, but we have them now so you could even add a potatoes or two a few times a week.  Play around with spices and herbs as they too can change the taste, making it less boring.

Note: In order to have pottage or porridge every morning, you will need to grow or buy/trade enough grain for your family for a year.

They really didn't do much soup.  That's basically what pottage is, except it's grain based.  If you choose to, you can just use potatoes to make your soup base, and add veggies.  It's up to you!

Learn how to make sourdough bread. OR learn how to "harvest" yeast from your barley or other grain crop.  OR you can learn how to make unleavened bread by just mixing flour from any grain plus water.  You can bake / cook it in a solar oven or fry like tortillas on your campfire.  Add spices, herbs, apple dices, raisins, etc to change it up from time to time.

Note: If you want bread AND porridge/pottage every day, calculate how much grain you need for your family for a year for all of that. 

Meat was somewhat hard to come by.  If you plan to make cheese, your need rennet so you'll need a suckling calf to slaughter for it's innards.  That means you need a few cows and access to a bull.  If you have room for goats or sheep, or can trade for one of those a year, then be sure to preserve most of the meat by smoking or salting it. Or making Pemmican (coming soon to this blog) or jerky.

If you live near water where there is seafood, wonderful! Back then, they made sure to eat the fish on Fridays as Medieval England was run, basically, by the Church.

You need to grow legumes: fava beans, chick peas/garbanzo beans, split peas and field peas were all staples in the Medieval diet.  Personally, I've added navy or white beans and lentils to our stores.  Be sure to change up the taste with herbs, veggies and so forth. And get used to the gas now.

If you are lucky enough to have a milking animal (goat, sheep, yak, cow), then you can make wonderful dairy products that last for months after your animal dries up.  Ricotta, cheddar, bleu and many other cheese will do well if you start practicing now.  Unbaked tiles on the floor with water thrown on them plus a decent cross-breeze from open windows will keep a room quite chilly even in the summer.  Be sure to learn how to keep things cold enough, away from rodents and other problems.

Back then they couldn't drink straight water because it was usually contaminated.  We will probably face the same situation in the future (or even now!). So what they did was make ale.  I won't go into details here but you'll need barley, some yeast, water, and time.  Usually the first batch is strong enough to get people drunk so keep that in a separate container to be brought out at night when the day's chores are done.  After the first batch is taken off the grain, add more water to the fermented grain and when it's ready, keep that in a separate container as this will be weaker for more like everyday drinking to whet your whistle.

You could also make wine or juice in varying strengths.  Making apple juice, cider and then hard cider and THEN apple cider vinegar is always a good notion.  Not exactly medieval but good now that our civilization has apples (not really available back then).

Note: You've calculated how much grain you need for pottage and/or porridge for your family for a year.  And you've done the same for bread for your family.  IF you plan on making ale, you'll need a good supply of barley.  Can you imagine how huge your grain storage area needs to be? AND it needs to be free of bugs and rodents.  AND, in case your crop fails the next year, will you store extra, grow and eat more potatoes, or beg/borrow/steal enough OR go hungry.

Just something to think about.

Even with this meager amount of food, you will need to put in a lot of hard work to keep it all going, year after year.  Plant your apple trees and grape vines now!  Get your supplies now for making wine, cider/vinegar, ale, bread and pottage, and so forth.   Check out your property for aerable land, where you can grow enough barley and wheat and potatoes to harvest enough for your family for a year.  If you are gluten-free, you can grow oats, millet, amaranth  and rice instead.

Then USE your supplies.  Start making pottage and porridge now, getting used to it as your daily meal. Start now by growing all of these things.  Experiment with recipes and write the down.  What did your family hate or just tolerate. What did they love.

Don't wait.

The time is ever coming closer to when we might need to exist on just what we can grow.

No comments: