Sunday, March 29, 2020

Food Preservation and Storage in Viking Times

Recently, the Ribe Viking Center in Denmark published a YouTube video that serves as an excellent explanation of how, and with what kinds of foods, the Vikings likely stocked their larders. (The story is in Danish, but with English subtitles.) 

The video is in the form of a little story about how a couple of children try to raid the family larder but are foiled by their grandfather.  Grandpa's subsequent explanation of what is stored and why it is stored is educational for all of us, and the information is consistent with what I know of Viking food ways, including information I learned from An Early Meal.  

All kinds of foods were preserved to keep them as long as possible.  Meats were preserved, such as by drying, smoking or salting them.  Vegetables would be dried, fermented, or left in the ground as long as possible, fruits dried, nuts collected and stored.  Breads were stored in different ways depending upon their properties.  Milk was stored in many forms, as butter, cheeses, yogurt, buttermilk.  Herbs were dried and stored.

The video features a fascinating reconstruction of how salt could be produced by processing seaweed in labor-intensive ways.  The salt, it tells us, was mostly used for preserving meat; white salt for seasoning already prepared foods was typically obtained in trade and was expensive.

This video is the first episode in a planned series about the Viking larder.  I intend to follow the series, though I won't post the other videos.  Based on this first one, watching them is a worthwhile investment of time for what is learned.  If you're looking for videos to watch, try this one.

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