Last modified on 7 January 2017, at 13:11


More Food pages

Completion Rating
This article's completion rating is 2 out of 5. Article structure and content is subject to change as data is still being collected.
Completion Rating
This article's completion rating is 2 out of 5. Article structure and content is subject to change as data is still being collected.
Viking Age Compendium articles on Food:
Viking Age Compendium articles on Food:

"Teacher: Salter, how does your craft benefit us?
Salter: Everyone benefits a great deal from my skill. No-one enjoys his breakfast or dinner unless my skill is present in it.
Teacher: How is that?
Salter: Who enjoys his meals without the flavouring of salt? Who can replenish his saltcellars without the prompt supply which my skill provides? Indeed, all the butter and cheese would go bad unless I looked after it. You would not be able to use your vegetables without my skill."

The Salter from Aelfric’s Colloquy [Watkins 2010]

The Value of Salt

Salt production would not only have met the demand of the local fishermen it would also have produced a surplus which would have been sold onto inland towns.

Salt Extraction

Salt extraction would have been done by either fishermen or those closely related to them [HAGEN 2006]:p.283. Salt was important for cooking and preservation. Salt can be extracted by using salt boilers with water either from the sea or saline springs. The Domesday Book records 285 salt pans in Sussex alone. Lead pans have been found in C8th/9th Riby Crossroads (285mm deep, 515mm diameter) and two from middle saxon Flixborough. [HAGEN 2006]:p.282
A mould for a lead pan from Nauheim, Germany suggests large scale salt production from 650 – 900AD. Up to 2m long the evaporation process took place out in the open over a stone built kiln. The brine was purified through filters of straw. The first official record of salt extraction from Luneburg was by King Otto I in 956AD saturated brine was raised manually from mine shafts about 15m deep. The lead pans measured circa 1m2. [VELLEV 2007]:p.232
The small island of Laeso between Denmark and Sweden was the location of large scale salt production until 1652AD. The brine was evaporated in iron pans over rectangular kilns in small boiling huts. The roof was supported by wall posts dug into the ground and 4 large central posts were positioned around the kiln. The huts measured 10m by 10m and were protected against flooding by a low bank. [VELLEV 2007]:p.232

For Preserving Food

Salting works by drawing water across the cell membrane of some bacteria, stopping them from causing decay. Salting also impregnates the food stuff with acid. Ideally a combination of coarse bay salt and finer, refined salt is used for preserving, as the coarse salt slowly penetrates the meat all the way through while the finer salt quickly seals the surface.
Dry salting would have been more expensive than brining as more salt is required, and the salt has to be processed more. [HAGEN 2006]:p.276ff
Herring was often transported in barrels of brine.

For Use In Cooking

See Also

Fishing in Viking Age Britain