February Pottage


This month’s pottage is another one that’s pleasing to the eye. Fortunately, my taste buds were also rather happy.

In February there would probably still be plenty of food from last year’s harvest, if it had been stored correctly. As far as my pottage is concerned, that’s the barley, carrots and garlic. I picked the leeks and parsley from the garden a couple of hours before I ate them.

A medieval housewife would have had to soak her barley overnight, but modern technology has spared me that. It still has to boil for an hour and fifteen minutes, though. As you can see from the photograph, I used too much barley. I’m still not used to how much bulk it gains in the pot.

After twenty minutes or so I added the carrots, garlic and parsley. The parsley hasn’t been deterred by the snow we had a couple of weeks ago, but I think a few frosty nights have thwarted its plans to take over the herb garden. Its growth spurt is over until the warmer weather.

The leeks were added with twenty minutes to go, so they still had a bit of crunch in them when I ate them. As usual there was no pepper or salt. All the flavour came from the vegetables themselves and it was tasty.

Sadly I didn’t have a young child to sit and stir the pot for me, and some of the barely stuck to the bottom because I hadn’t put enough water in. A medieval housewife would never have allowed that to happen. Cooking pots were far too precious to allow them to be damaged like that.

A medieval housewife might have had some salted pork left and some of that might have gone into the pot. There were other things that were available that I haven’t mentioned, such as mushrooms. I’m sure people in the Middle Ages had more knowledge than most of us today about which ones it was safe to eat.


April Munday is the author of the Soldiers of Fortune and Regency Spies series of novels, as well as standalone novels set in the fourteenth century.

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Filed under Medieval Food

17 responses to “February Pottage

  1. I’m sure you’re right about that knowledge. Presumably some foraging took place in woodland if there was any nearby. This does look tasty, though. The carrots and leeks give it some colour which must have been welcome in the depths of winter.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. That one does look and sound nice. I’d want the salted pork too though 😊

    Liked by 5 people

  3. This looks pretty good. Makes me think spring is coming.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. lydiaschoch

    I agree with Dan. Your pottage this month looks delicious.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Any leftovers? Ah, I suppose a medieval housewife wouldn’t let that happen either. 😉

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Sounds delicious! I’m glad to hear garlic was included; I love adding it to dishes.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. It looks nice and moist. Too much liquid dilutes the flavors. You can add drips of water, as needed, without compromising the dish. Garlic is a huge help!

    This was a time when nutrition-deficient diseases worsened; pellagra, goiters, rickets, etc. And remember that winters were often harder in England’s medieval times. Crops failed frequently, diseases could be devastating (plagues).

    Anything forageable was consumed, and woe to the unwary in the matter of fungi. Some are such copycats of the good varieties that even experts have been literally fooled to death. Another fungus that wreaked havoc, especially among the poor, was ergot. Beware the black-spurred rye! I believe rye was a minor grain in England, but crucial in Germanic & Balkan regions.

    Our lawn is usually littered with several varieties of fungi & I leave them all be. The only wild ones I eat (morels) never show up. 😦

    Your dish looks good enough to post in Epicurious!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Despite sticking to the bottom of the pan it was still moist.

      I’m sure I read somewhere that rickets wasn’t really known in England until the Industrial Revolution. People in the Middle Ages were outside a lot, which meant they were in sunlight a lot. Pale faces and hands were fashionable, because it showed that you were wealthy enough to sit inside most of the time, but even wealthy people spent time outdoors.

      I was a child the last time I had wild mushrooms. My dad grew up in a fairly rural area and learned about them, so he picked some one morning. They were very tasty.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Yay, food! Looks so spring like. I guess extra water could be added to leftovers together with a bit of what they had to hand the following day, especially if the original had a bit of meat?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does look pretty. I don’t often do pretty with food. They probably did just add stuff to the pot the next day, but they would have known from experience how quickly cooked food went off.


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