Viking Foods – Fruits and Sweets by Rob Shackleford
When we say “fruit” – often we think of fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas and maybe pineapple.
Yet none of these fruits were available to the Vikings!
True, they had access to crab-apples, much harder than the apples that originated in Kazakhstan and were grown in China. Now, nearly 8000 varieties of apples have been identified around the world.
Oranges are a hybrid of pomalo and mandarins, and were introduced into Europe by the Moorish invasions around the 10th Century. Vikings would have come into contact with oranges as they invaded and settled parts of the Mediterranean, but they weren’t commonly eaten by Vikings.
Wild fruit and berries grew abundantly in the Viking period. The Vikings could supply themselves with raspberries, bilberries, sloe berries, lingon berries, strawberries, bilberries and cloudberries, while plums, wild apples and hazelnuts from the woods.
Walnuts were also available in some areas.
The Vikings knew about the health benefits of eating apples. In Nordic mythology the goddess Idun’s apples kept the gods eternally young, if they ate them regularly.
Honey was the only sweetener the Vikings knew and not only sweetened foods but also made the alcoholic drink, mead.
Here are some authentic Viking recipes that used fruit and honey.
Find out more
Viking Life by John Guy and Richard Hall (Ticktock, 1998)
Encyclopaedia of the Viking Age by John Haywood (Thames &Hudson, 2000)
Cultural Atlas of the Viking Age edited by Graham-Campbell et al (Andromeda, 1994)
Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings by John Haywood (Penguin, 1996). Detailed maps of Viking settlements in Scotland, Ireland, England, Iceland and Normandy.
Other Viking Blogs
About the author:
Hi, I’m Rob Shackleford. I am author of a number of novels, though so far only Traveller Inceptio and Traveller Probo have been officially published. As Traveller Inceptio looks at the fates of modern historical researchers sent to the early 11th Century Saxon world, Vikings do feature.
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