The Tudor Era dates between 1558 and 1603 Almost all our tudor food across the range of prepared and kitchen food is what would have been served in a manor house, prosperous farm or merchants home for family and servants.
All the food in the Manor house and farm would have been produced on the estate. Only the exotic foods like the citrus fruits, (oranges and lemons) vine fruits (currants and ‘raisins of the sun’), spices such as pepper, nutmeg, cubebs, galingale, ginger , mace, almonds and wine were brought in.
The town kitchens of a Merchants house would have to buy in all their food, having no estate to call on. Their meat and vegetables, cloth and many other supplies would be bought at the daily town markets. Most town houses had a small plot behind which was used to grow herbs and maybe keep a hive of bees for the honey and wax.
The peasantry and lower classes ate little more than bread and pottage, which is a stew of vegetables and herbs cooked in one pot. Sometimes with a little meat of some kind added, if available, which wasn’t often.
Soft cheese was made if they kept a cow, eggs if they had a hen or two, and fresh fish from the market or the local stream. Almost all but the very poorest, kept a pig. Which once slaughtered was able to provide some fresh meat for immediate use and joints were smoked for later consumption.
Fire dogs, cauldrons, roasting spits and griddles were made of iron, forged by the local blacksmith. Most cooking utensils were either wood or terracotta clay.
Food was cooked over an open fire, very few people had an oven and if they had it, was built in beside the fireplace and could be used for bread and pies. Serving dishes for the main table were wooden trenchers (plates) and bowls.
If the household was a prosperous one, pewter or even silver, with glazed earthenware such as jugs and serving platters. Forks were unknown, everyone ate with a spoon and usually carried their own knife.
Spices played a large part in the kitchen. The Tudor palette liked a combination of sweet and savoury flavours and delicately spiced sauces for their meats. Quite often these sauces were based on fruits such as redcurrants, gooseberries, cranberries, barberries, sloes (wild damsons) quince, apples, oranges and lemons.
A lot of native fruits were also pickled in their season to be eaten with roast or baked meats throughout the year; as were the oranges and lemons. Housewives also used every part, of every animal. Not only in cooking for the family and servants of the household, but also for household items like bone and horn for spoons and leather for shoes, wineskins, jugs and clothes.
The still room, dairy, kitchen and storerooms were under the control of the Housewife, as she had to make sure that family and servants were fed, clothed and looked after, all year.