Cabbage from the Teutonic knights.

August 22, 2011

While most of the cookbooks I have used from the period that is reflected in this project are from southern Germany or the Netherlands, there is actually a cookbook that fits closely in time and even geographically. The cookbook in question is an east Prussian cookbook from the 15th century that comes from the archives of the Teutonic knights. However the very special context and the lack of a proper translation made it difficult to use most of the recipes within the projects. The heavy use of gingerbread as a seasoning put up another obstacle as I would have had to make it myself before hand.

 

However a few of the recipes seemed easy enough to recreate, and I settled for a dish which was called pickled cabbage.

 

[[31]] Wilthu machenn eynngemacht Crautt:

so seudt weysse Heuptt und ein zweythell Sennffs und das dritthell

Hoengs und die selbing mach undereinander mitt Wein und thu darein

<<124>>

Koemel und einfl des genug und leg dan des gesotten Kraut darein

und [[nnd_Ed.]] gibe es kalt. also magst auch priesen die Seudt mitt W¸rczenn

und gyb sy hin.

 

If you want to make pickled cabbage

Boil white cabbage heads, take two parts mustard and one part honey, mix them with wine and add caraway. /einfl/ (?) it enough, put the boiled cabbage into it and serve it cold. You can also season the broth and serve it.”

(http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-MANUSCRIPTS/Konigsberg-art.html)

 

Though rather simple the recipe is interesting in as it mentions white cabbage heads which may be considered a late medieval development. [I must admit though that I haven’t found any conclusive articles on the development of kale and cabbage.]

 

Another point of interest is that it can be considered a more common food than most other dishes included in the same manuscript. Although it required honey, which is a somewhat expensive produce, the place of origin may have made it more available. During the renaissance honey, mead and wax were imported to Sweden from Poland, which in many ways included lands that previously belonged to the Teutonic order.

 

This was indeed one of the easier dishes to make, and it was indeed cooked alongside another dish. The cabbage head was quartered and thrown into water that I boiled in the large copper kettle. When the cabbage was boiled and soft enough I cut it up further, removing the stem and tried to pour off any excess water.

 

For mustard seeds I chose to use brown mustard seeds, which presumably has been used in Scandinavia already during the Iron Age. These were ground up using my mortar while the cabbage was boiling.

 

The cut up cabbage leaves were mixed with a generous amount of honey, twice the amount of mustards seeds, and a nice portion of caraway. To this I also added some white wine, unfortunately all I could get hold of in short notice was low alcoholic “cooking wine”.

 

The cabbages were left to cool, before being samples. It all ended up being a rather nice side dish with a nice balance of sweet and hot. It seems like it could have been a good side dish together with some beef or fatty pork.

 

However, I would have liked it to be a bit more acidic, but that may be blamed the choice of wine. A more obvious mistake though was that I due to some stress missed to properly drain the cabbages of water, which made the cabbages feel a bit to watery. It would perhaps have been a good idea to press out the water between two cutting boards.

As one head of cabbage produces quite a lot of food, I brought some home and had it a few days later, at which time it was still good.

2 Responses to “Cabbage from the Teutonic knights.”

  1. murmel.jones said

    The electronic ressource you got the text from seems to have some problems with german special letters.
    “einfl” should be “einß”, an old variant of “eins”, used as a verb it would mean something like “to unite” or “to unify”. And “W¸rczenn” should be “Würczenn”, modern “Würtze”, meaning “seasoning”.
    While doing an archaeological project on the 16/17th century, I tried once to find written sources for the historic use of cabbages and roots, but I did not find much beyond the agricultural manuals of the 18th century.

    • eldrimner said

      Thanks, that gives the text much more sense.

      A culinary text that goes into some detail on cabbages and their cultivation (in france) is the text called “Le ménagier de Paris”. There is even a gardening section in that book and it may give something more. That manuscroipt is dated to the end of the 14th century.

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