A Boke of Gode Cookery Presents
How to Cook Medieval


"In whatever category of foodstuffs contemporary students of natural science felt inclined to place nuts, it must be observed that they played an enormous role in the medieval diet. Walnuts, filberts (hazelnuts), pistachios, chestnuts, pine-nuts and almonds were kept on hand in the larger kitchens. Almonds, in particular, seem to constitute the sine qua non of medieval cookery: there is perhaps no one common ingredient in the dishes of the day than almonds, in one form or the other. Usually ground very finely in a mortar, mixed with a liquid and then strained, almonds yielded a so-called almond milk whose culinary uses appear to be close to infinite in number."

Terence Scully, The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages, p. 70.

Nuts were considered an important part of the medieval menu due to their naturally dry properties. Physicians recommended that when fish was served it was to be immediately followed by nuts, as their dry humour would absorb & balance the moisture found overly abundant in most fish.

Nuts, along with candies, sweetmeat, & spiced cakes, were among the delicacies St. Nicholas brought with him at Christmas time.

Nuts List

Acorns - health manuals recommended eating acorns roasted and with sugar to prevent menstruation and to aid in retention; however, their actual use was primarily in feeding pigs and other domesticated animals. See illustration of: Feeding acorns to pigs.

Almonds - most common of all nuts in the Middle Ages; almonds were grown all over England and were used lavishly in cooking. See illustrations of: Bitter Almonds and Almonds.

Almond Milk - standard medieval sauce, found extensively throughout period cooking resources. See; Almond Milk; Botere of almand melk.

Chestnuts - see illustration of: Chestnuts.

Filberts - used as a nut or made into oil. See: Oils. Filberts candied in sugar were considered a fine confection.

Marzipan, Marchepane - A paste made from ground almonds & sugar, often used for creating subtleties and 3-dimensional displays. See: Marchpane.

Pine Nuts - like almonds, used extensively in medieval cooking.

Pistachios - a favorite in desserts and sweets; candied pistachios were popular and they were often incorporated into marzipan, along with almonds.

Walnuts - used as a nut or made into oil. See: Oils. Walnuts candied in sugar or honey were considered one of the better confections.

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A Boke of Gode CookeryHow to Cook Medieval
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