Everyday food

Satisfying everyday food

Nature provided a variety of vegetables, herbs, berries etc. and the Vikings knew how to make use of it. Nobody actually had to starve in the Viking Age.

Porridge and gruel was an everyday food in any household. Porridge and spoon food would have been served in large shared bowls placed in the middle of the table. It was then up to each person sitting at the table to fall to with their spoon. 

Lard with onions

Chopped onions

Remove the rind from the fat. Finely chop the fat and broil it in a pot. Mayby add a splash of water to prevent it from burning. Stir frequently. When the fat has melted, add the chopped onions. Let it cook till tender and then season with salt. Pour the fat into an earthenware pot and leave to cool and set. 

Clean and rinse the offal well. Place it in a pot and cover with slightly salted water. Add the onion, apples and thyme and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for a couple of hours until tender. Remember to skim the soup. Leave to cool.

Cut the leaf fat into small pieces and slowly melt them in a cooking pot. Remove the cracklings and save the fat for another time and use.

Remove the tender offal from the boiling water and finely chop it with a knife.

To make a rather thick sauce, melt some of the fat and stir in some wheat flour. Little by little add some of the water in which the offal was cooked. 

Add the offal and cracklings to the sauce and warm up the stew. Season with salt and serve with rye bread.

Cabbage soup with pork

1 piece of smoked pork
2 jugs water
2 onions
2 cups barley groats

Place the smoked pork in an earthenware pot and pour over 2 jugs of cold water. Bring to the boil, skim and leave to simmer for about an hour until tender. Remove the pork from the soup.

Add chopped onions and barley to the soup. Let it simmer till the barley groats are tender. The soup must not get to thick. If so, add more water.

Rinse the cabbage and chop it finely. Add it to the soup and let it cook for about 30 minutes. Season with salt.

Serve the soup with sliced pork and rye bread. 

Kálgardr - 'cabbage garden' - is the Old Norse word for a kitchen garden surrounded by a hedge, and the word is still used in some parts of Jutland. In ancient Norwegian law, there were penalties for going into other people's gardens and stealing cabbage, angelica or onions. Cabbage is a general term for all the types of vegetables that come from wild cabbage. Cabbage is very nutricious and an excellent source of Vitamin C.

Boiled sheep heads

Carefully rinse the heads and place them in a large pot with plenty of salted water. Bring to the boil and let them cook for at least 1.5 hours. When they have been cooked, peel off the skin. The jaws are a delicacy. 

Serve the sheep heads with boiled swedes or turnips and whole grain bread.

Barley porridge with stewed apples 

1.5 jug water vand
3.5 cup barley groats

Bring the water to the boil. Reduce the heat and sprinkle the barley groats on top and stir into water. Bring back to the boil over medium heat, stirring continuously. Then reduce to low heat and leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir the porridge every few minutes. Add a pinch of salt at the end before serving.

Delicious when served with stewed apples:

Peel the apples, remove the cores and dice the apples. Place them in an earthenware pot with just a little water. Let the apples cook till well done and slightly mashed. Season to taste with honey.

Porridge was served in a large bowl from wich everyone at the table ate.  

Boiled salted herrings

Salting is a traditional way to preserve fish, and herring is often salted because it spoils very rapidly. 

5 kilograms harvest herrings
1 - 1.5 kilogram salt

Cut off the heads, gut and clean the fish thoroughly except for a few herrings. Leave them whole to help speed up the ripening.

Sprinkle a layer of coarse salt at the bottom of a wooden barrel. On top of this place a layer of herrings, alternating direction of the head and tail. Sprinkle another layer of salt over the herrings and place a new layer of fish, but now across the lower herrings. Repeat the process until the barrel is filled and top with a layer of salt. Place a plate on top of the herrings to make sure they stay below the brine, which will now evolve. Store the barrel somewhere cold for a longer time.

Before eating the herrings you need to soak them in water for a day, depending on how salty you like them to be. Then put them in a pot with plenty of cold water. Slowly warm up the water, but make sure it doesn't boil. They herrings are done when you can pull off the tails with no effort.

Remove the skin and the bones. Serve with rye bread, lard and plenty of beer.

1 jug = 1 liter approx.
1 cup = 150 ml approx.

Ribe VikingeCenter's 2012 project 'Nordic food is Viking food' is supported by  Region Syddanmark