Mortars II

June 24, 2010

In preparation for another experiment I needed some mustard seeds ground. The lack of proper mortars found from the Viking Age did however give me some problems and an opportunity to test out another hypothesis of mine. The use of soapstone vessels as mortars for grinding similar to the ancient Roman mortaria. For this cooking experience I used a simple stone, a soapstone vessel and some mustard seeds. The mustard seeds were poured in to the bowl and I commenced to crush/grind the seeds with a circular motion. It went quite well and it was nt long before I had managed to grind all of the seeds.

A prolonged use of this method may cause some wear on the soapstone though nothing was visible after this limited attempt. Though some further experiments and comparisons with original material is needed, I would say that it would be a possible way of getting seeds or vegetables ground up

4 Responses to “Mortars II”

  1. Daniel Schneider said

    In colonial America, they had a mortar for roughly crushing dried maize or other grains, that consisted of a tree stump, about 30-50 cm in diameter, hollowed into a 30-40 cm deep round-bottomed bowl, and a pestle made of a 2meter long, 10-15cm diameter pole, rounded at one end and attached to a springy branch at the other. Unfortunately, the archaeological evidence for something like this would be pretty much invisible, but I wonder if there are any later imagesof something similar from the Nordic countries?

  2. John K said

    I don’t know how fine your quern grinds, but have you tried grinding your spices like that?

    Depending on the veggie you want to mash, I find in my Viking kitchen it works well to boil/simmer the item until tender then mash it with a spoon/ladle and a bowl.

    Thanks for sharing this research! This is going to help alot of cooks in the re-enactment world.

    -John

    • eldrimner said

      Thanks, well the mustard seeds did allright, while the caraway seeds were only partly ground…I’ll try to add a post about grinding malt this way later tonight or tomorrow, though it was a comparatively inefficient method.

      For vegetables, I woudl say that it would depend on which ones and for what use they are made. Though a completely different cuisine, a parallell may be drawn to the ancient roman cuisine where most of the recipes star by grinding vegetables.

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