25 Weltt jr gútt prattwirst machen
So nempt 4 pfúnd schweinis vnnd 4 pfúnd rinderis, das last klainhacken, nempt darnach 2 pfúnd speck darúnder vnnd hackts anainander vnnd vngeferlich 3 seidlen wasser giest daran, thiet aúch saltz, pfeffer daran, wie jrs geren est, oder wan jr geren kreúter darin megt haben/ múgt jr nemen ain wenig ain salua vnnd ain wenig maseron, so habt jr gút brattwirst.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin

25 If you would make good bratwurst
Take four pounds of pork and four pounds of beef and chop it finely. After that mix with it two pounds of bacon and chop it together and pour approximately one quart of water on it. Also add salt and pepper thereto, however you like to eat it, or if you would like to have some good herbs , you could take some sage and some marjoram, then you have good bratwurst.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

The translation is by Valoise Armstrong, and can be found here.

Bratwurst translates as “best meat.” They had become an important gourmet food by the sixteenth century

These bratwurst were made using an electric mincer with attached sausage stuffing tubes. In period, the meat was probably minced with a cleaver, as demonstrated in this YouTube video. The sausages could have been stuffed by spooning the mixture into the casing; however, you can also use a cowhorn with the tip removed. This creates a stiff tube onto which the sausage casing can be pushed, and makes the stuffing easier to stuff into the casing. This idea came from An Early Meal (pp 96-97).

Demonstration of cow horn to stuff sausages. The ideal length is 2/3 the length of your index finger.

The recipe below has been quartered.


450g pork (see notes) 500mL water 2 tbs marjoram
450g beef (see notes) 20g salt 1 tbs sage
225g streaky bacon 1.5 tsp pepper Sausage casing (see notes)


  1. Using either an electric mincer, hand mincer or cleaver, mince the meat very finely. If using a mincer, you may find passing the meat through the mincer twice will get the desired texture.
  2. Finely mince the herbs, then add the herbs, water, salt and pepper to the minced meat. Then mash it all together. You can really only do this step with your hands, unless you have commercial sausage making equipment (and hands are more fun). You can’t overmix here – in fact the aim is to make the meat texture as fine as possible. You will find the water helps greatly with this; it will be absorbed into the meat and keep it moist while the bratwurst are cooking.
  3. Keep mix-mashing the meat until you can lift a large chunk of mixture from the bowl, and it takes a while to fall from your open hand.

    Sausage mix fully mixed.

  4. Stuff the meat into the sausage skin. It can help to have a bowl underneath to put the sausage into. If using an electric machine, it can help to have two people involved – one to feed the meat into the hopper of the mincer, and one to pull the sausage away. Both people should try to work to a smooth rhythm.


  5. When you have used all your meat, cut away any unused sausage skin, leaving around 5cm at the end. Measure off the length of your desired sausage, then twist the long sausage at this point around 3 times to form the individual sausages. Measure off the desired length again, and repeat the twist. Hold the sausage below the point where you are twisting to stop the previous sausages from untwisting (it may take you a few goes to get the action right).
  6. To cook the sausages, bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the sausages. Cook until they have completely changed colour. If you have access to a smoker, you can also smoke your sausages.
  7. To serve, slice the sausages thinly, and serve with condiments such as mustard and ricotta cheese. Blackberry jam is also a weird but tasty serving option.


  • For a good sausage mix, you need around 20% fat. Much of this will come from the bacon. For the pork, I like to use shoulder, which has a good covering of fat and reasonably lean meat. For the beef, I like to use rump for the same reason. You might also be able to get extra fat from a butcher from their trimmings.
  • You can use synthetic casings or natural; the pictures in this recipe all use natural casings, which are the cleaned intestines of (usually) pigs. They can be obtained quite easily (and cheaply) from butchers.

Smoked bratwurst
Smoked Bratwurst

Boiled bratwurst
Simmered Bratwurst

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Bach, Volker (2016). The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany.

Serra, Daniel and Tunberg, Hanna. An Early Meal. Chronocopia Publishing (2013).

To Preserve Fruit (Fruit Jam)

To Preserve Plums or Gooseberries
Take to every pound of plums a pound of suger, then beat it small, & put so much water to it as will wet it, then boyle it till it bee sugar againe, then put in the plums, & let them boile very softlie, till they be doone, then when they bee cold put them up, if they begin to grow then set them where fire is in a cupboard; you may doe respis this way & gooseberries, but you must boyle them verie soft, & not put them up till they bee cold, & likewise may Cherries be doone as your gooseberries & respis.
Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book, ed. Hillary Spurling.

To Preserve Plums or Gooseberries
Take to every pound of plums a pound of sugar, then beat it small, & put so much water to it as will wet it, then boil it until it be sugar again, then put in the plums, & let them boil very softly, until they be done, then when they be cold put them up, if they begin to grow then set them where fire is in a cupboard; you may do raspberries this way & gooseberries, but you must boil them very soft, & not put them up until they be cold, & likewise may cherries be done as your gooseberries & raspberries.

This recipe is quite different to a modern jam recipe – first you create a sugar syrup, set it to a candy, then add the fruit and gradually dissolve the candy into a syrup again. The fruit then melds into the sugar syrup, creating the jam. It takes time and patience, because you DON’T want the fruit and syrup to boil, however the flavour is far superior to modern jams, and you don’t have boiling mixes spitting on the stove.

Along with some friends, I have made this recipe using mulberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.


450g fruit 450g caster sugar


  1. Put the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add just enough water to turn the sugar to a stiff paste – it should not be too wet.
  2. Put the pan of sugar paste onto a low heat, and stir it until the sugar is dissolved. Then leave the sugar syrup to heat to 115°C. Give the pan a good jiggle and stir to set the sugar syrup to a candy. Allow to cool completely. You will end up with a solid mass of candy in the base of the pan.

    Set sugar syrup

  3. Meanwhile, cut the fruit into small pieces and set aside.
  4. When the sugar candy is completely cold, put the pan back onto a low heat and pour the fruit on top.
  5. Give the sugar candy and fruit an occasional stir to allow the fruit and sugar to mix. DO NOT LET IT BOIL.

    Adding the fruit to the sugar

  6. To test when the jam is set, put a small amount onto a cold plate and tip the plate. If the mix is very runny, leave it to cook a little longer. Otherwise, remove from the heat and allow the jam to cool.
  7. Pour the jam into sterilised jars and store in a cool place.


  • The weights of fruit and sugar given are only guides – you can make this recipe with more or less fruit. The important thing is to have equal weights of fruit and sugar.
  • Elinor Fettiplace’s instruction “to boile” can be quite confusing. Often she actually means “simmer,” and you generally have to work out the meaning from the context. Because she specifies “boile very softlie” in this instance, she is talking about simmering in this case.
  • If using a low pectin fruit such as raspberries, you will get a better final set if you use juice from the fruit to make the initial sugar candy rather than water.
  • If you’ve made jam using a modern recipe, not boiling the jam mix may not seem as though it will work. However, it actually gives you a far better result, though it does take time and patience to get a set. Pectins are released from the fruit at 70°C, rather than boiling point. But because the mix doesn’t boil, none of the fruit flavour is lost through evaporation (Spurling, 2011, 129). So you wind up with a jam that is a little more runny than typical modern jams, but has a much more intense fruit flavour.
  • Lady Elinor’s instruction to “set them where fire is in a cupboard” “if they begin to grow” refers to instructions to follow if the jam starts to get mouldy. She means to put the jam pots in a cupboard with a slatted bottom over a fire, where the heat and smoke will prevent mould from forming (Spurling, 2011, 129).

Tudor jam
Left: mulberry jam. Right: strawberry jam.

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Spurling, Hilary (2011). Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book.

Powdered Beef (Salted Beef)

A good way to powder or barréll beefe.
TAke the beefe and lay it in mere sawce a day & a night. Then take out the beefe and lay it vpon a hirdle, and couer it close with a sheete, and let the hurdle be laid vpon a peuerell or couer to saue the mere sauce that commeth from it: then seeth the brine, and lay in your Beefe againe, see the brine be colde so let it lye two dayes and one night: then take it out, & lay it againe on a hurdel two or three dayes. Then wype it euerie peece with linnen cloth, dry them and couch it with salt, a laying of Beefe and another of salt: and ye must lay a stick crosse each way, so that the brine may run from the salt.
The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin, 1594

Take the beef and lay it in mere sauce a day & a night. Then take out the beef and lay it upon a rack, and cover it close with a sheet, and let the rack be laid upon a bowl to save the mere sauce that comes from it: then bring the brine to the boil, and lay in your beef again, see the brine be cold so let it lie two days and one night: then take it out, & lay it again on a rack two or three days. Then wipe it every piece with linen cloth, dry them and cover it with salt, a laying of beef and another of salt: and you must lay a stick across each way, so that the brine may run from the salt.

The text of the original recipe comes from the transcript by Sam Wallace, available here.

“Powdered Beef” is listed as a suggested dish to serve in the first course of a feast in A Proper New Booke of Cokerye, A Book of Cookrye and The Good Huswifes Jewell part 1. However, none of these books contain a recipe for this dish. This indicated to me that a household manager would receive the Powdered Beef readily prepared (perhaps from the butcher who sold the meat) – it wasn’t made by the kitchen staff.

However, given it was clearly an important part of most feasts, I set out to find out what it was, and whether I could make it. I found the recipe above, from which I concluded Powdered Beef was clearly preserved beef, similar to modern corned beef; the beef is soaked for several days in a brine solution, then packed in salt.

However, this method did not contain a recipe for the brine solution, or “mere sauce.” What was a mere sauce, precisely? In the glossary of the printed, annotated edition of The English Housewife, I discovered a “mere sauce” was a marinade (Markham and Best, 1994, 305). I also discovered a recipe for baked red deer, where the deer is soaked in a mere sauce for a night; this mere sauce consisted of vinegar, beer and salt (Markham and Best, 1994, 98).

Even though this recipe uses red deer, I wasn’t sure about the mere sauce using beer; it did not seem “refined” enough. I remembered a recipe for a wet brine Australian chef Adrian Richardson suggests for beef which is based on red wine (Richardson, 2009,246), which was very easy to adapt into an Elizabethan recipe; I just needed to substitute appropriate spices for allspice. Richardson uses this recipe for bresaola (p251), or air dried beef, and the process of soaking the beef is very similar to the method described in the Good Huswife’s Handmaide.

I made this for a Lochac cooking competition, and I had no idea how it was going to turn out until I opened the container to set up for the competition. We discovered you could actually eat the meat without cooking it – the long soak in the mere sauce and then the salting basically “cooks” the meat, similar to bresaola.

I intend to try this again, using the beer and vinegar mere sauce, and seeing how the beef goes in a pottage. This would also be a great way of preserving meat for camping if you don’t want to use an esky/fridge/cooler.


1.5 kg boned beef joint, such as topside, rump or silverside

For the mere sauce:

1.25L red wine 1 tbs black peppercorns 1/2 tsp mace
500mL water 1 tsp cinnamon bark 2 bay leaves
150g salt 1/2 tsp cloves


  1. Combine the mere sauce ingredients in a pan, and bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt is dissolved.
  2. Bring the mere sauce mix to the boil and boil for 2 minutes. Then remove from the heat and leave overnight to cool.
  3. Remove any excess fat and sinew from the meat. At this stage, it will be a vibrant red and quite soft to the touch (as typical meat is).


  4. Pour the mere sauce into a non reactive bowl, such as glass or plastic, and then put the meat into the mere sauce, making sure it is submerged. Cover very loosely with plastic wrap, and then put a weighted plate on the plastic, ensuring it submerges the beef.
  5. After a day, turn the meat over within the mere sauce, then re-cover and re-weight. You will see the meat has taken on a deep purple colour from the red wine, and is now slightly hard to the touch.


  6. After another day, remove the meat from the mere sauce, and place on a rack over a plate to allow any excess liquid to drain off. It should be slightly harder to the touch.
  7. Put the mere sauce in a pan over heat, and bring to the boil. Boil for at least 2 minutes, then leave to cool completely.
  8. Return the mere sauce to a clean non-reactive bowl, then return the meat, and re-cover and re-weight. Discard any liquid that drained from the meat.
  9. Soak the meat for another four days, turning the meat in the mere sauce once every day.
  10. After a week, remove the meat from the mere sauce and discard the mere sauce. The meat will now be very firm to the touch. Put the meat on a rack over a plate and leave in a cool place for at least a day, to drain off any excess liquid (which should be discarded).
  11. Dry the surface of the meat completely, and cut into chunks that will fit into your storage container. Cut some wooden skewers so they will fit inside the storage container. Put salt in the bottom of the container, then liberally rub each chunk of meat with the salt. Layer the meat inside your container, with a layer of the wooden skewers between each layer of meat. Store in a cool, dark place.
  12. When you want to use this, after brushing off the excess salt, you can eat the meat from the middle right away – the long soak in the mere sauce and packing in salt has effectively “cooked” the meat. However, it is quite salty and some may find it too salty.
  13. If you want to use the beef in a pottage, soak the meat for at least 4-6 hours in water to remove some of the excess salt, then add to the pottage as normal. You probably won’t need to salt it.


  • It is unusual to find a dish like this in feast menus. Preserved meat such as this was the primary meat of the lower classes, not the sort of thing you’d expect to find in a feast intended to show off. It may have been intended for lower tables where lesser guests were seated, or it may have been served to the high table, with the mere sauce as I have made it here, using expensive ingredients like wine and spices, to serve “poor man’s food” that poor men couldn’t afford to eat; or to contrast with the more luxurious dishes to highlight the divide between rich and poor.
  • I have largely followed the method from the Good Huswife’s Handmaide, but I soaked the meat for a longer period, which was suggested by Adrian Richardson’s recipe for bresaola, where he specifies soaking the meat for a week and turning it every day. The longer the meat is soaked, the further the mere sauce penetrates.
  • Finding the right salt for preserving can be tricky. Modern table salt has anti-caking agents added to stop it from clumping; you also find salt sometimes has extra iodine added. Both will interfere with the preserving. Iodine actually destroys the enzymes in the meat that help to break down the fibres. If you can’t find salt that doesn’t have additives, get some rock salt and crush it.
  • The spices have very little to do with the preservation process – they simply add flavour (and would have enhanced the luxury factor). However, oily spices such as cloves and cinnamon do have antiseptic properties which help can stop the growth of bacteria.
  • When you’re preserving, you’re attempting to prevent food spoilage from starting – once food has started to spoil, pretty much all you can do is throw it out. Food spoilage is caused by harmful bacteria. Like most organisms, bacteria require certain essentials to grow – a food supply, and a comfortable environment; most also prefer a moist environment. Some harmful bacteria also require oxygen, but one of the most dangerous organisms, botulism, prefers an anaerobic, or oxygen-poor, environment. Essentially, when you’re preserving, you are creating an environment that’s hostile to bacteria (McGee, 2004, 173).
  • Salting is one of the oldest food preservation methods, and is still used today in the production of gourmet meats such as bresaola (beef), prosciutto (ham) and gravlax (salmon). It works by drawing out the moisture from food, which sees off most bacteria, and prevents the growth of botulism, which doesn’t like a highly saline environment. When used with meat, salt also reacts with enzymes in the meat to change its chemical structure, breaking down the fibres and tenderising the meat. (McGee, 2004, 174).
  • In medieval times, food spoilage was considered to be caused by an excess of cold, wet humours. So to preserve food, you had to drastically increase the hot, dry humours. According to Platina, “the virtue of salt is fiery so that it contracts, dries and binds whatever bodies it touches. If dead flesh is salted in time, it is very well preserved.” (Scully, 1995, 55).
  • You will lose some volume from the meat during the soak in the mere sauce. The soak in the salty liquid drives the water from the meat, which results in the meat becoming harder and denser, and aids in the preservation(McGee, 2004, 174).

Powdred beef

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.

Markharm, Gervase, and Best, Michael, 1994. The English Housewife
McGee, Harold, 2004. On Food and Cooking
Richardson, Adrian, 2009. Meat
Scully, Terence, 1995. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages

Succade of Citrus Peel (Candied Citrus Peel)

To make Succade of Peels of Oranges and Lemons.
Chapter xxxii.
FYrste take, offe your Peeles by quarters and seet hthem in fair water from .iii. quartes to .iii. pynts, then take them out, and put to as much more water, and seethe them lykewyse, and so doe agayne, till the water wherin they are sodden haue no bitternesse at all of the Peeles, then are they ready. Now prepare a Syrop as ye doe for quin ces condict in syrop in ye .xiiii. chapter before written: seeth them in the Syrope a while, a keep them in a Glasse or Pot.

(For Syrup, chap.xiiii)
… & put into the liquor being .ii. or .iii. quartes .i. pynte of Rosewater, & for euery quart also of lyquor, one half pound of suger, seeth them againe together on a soft fire of coles tyl ye suger be incorporated with the liquor, then put in your Quinces, let them seeth softly tyll you perceaue that your Syrope is as thick as liue honuy, the set them to keel, and take them out, lat them in a tray or treene platter: tyl they be cold, then take one ounce of brused Cinamon, & some of the Cinimon in the Syrope, and when it is colde lai a larde of quinces in your glasse (called a gestelyn glasse) or an erthe pot well glased, then straw a little of your Cinimon vpon you Quinces, the power some Syrope, lay on an other larde of Quinces, and agayne of your spice, and Syrope, and so foorthe tyll you haue done:
John Partridge, The Treasurie of commodious Conceits (1573)

First take off your peels by quarters and boil them in 3 quarts to 3 pints of fair water, then take them out, and put to as much more water, and boil them likewise, and so do again, until the water wherein they are sodden have no bitterness at all of the peels, then are they ready. Now prepare a syrup as you do for quinces in syrop in xiiii. chapter before written: boil them in the Syrup a while, and keep them in a glass or pot.

(For Syrup)
… and put into a liquor composed of 2 or 3 quarts (of water plus).1. pint of rosewater, and for every quart of liquor, add one half pound of sugar. Simmer them again together on a soft fire of coals until the sugar be incorporated with the liquor, then put in your quinces, let them simmer until you perceive that your syrup is as thick as live honey, then set them to cool, and take them out, lay them in a tray or treene (?)  platter until they be cold, then take one ounce of bruised cinnamon, (and put) some of the cinnamon in the syrup, and when it is cold lay some of the quinces in your glass (called a gestelyn glass) or a well glazed ceramic pot, then strew a little of your cinnamon upon your quinces, the pour some syrup, lay on another lot of Quinces, and again of your spice, and Syrup, and so forth until you have done.

The text of this recipe is taken from the transcript by Johnna Holloway, available here.

I was first taught how to cook candied peel by my great aunt, and when I first read this recipe I realised it was describing her method. This influenced my redacting, especially in some of the timings.


Peels of 6 oranges or lemons 100mL rosewater (see notes)
1 L water (optional) 1-3 sticks cinnamon
225g sugar


  1. Make sure as much as the flesh as possible is removed from the peel, and cut it into pretty strips.
  2. Put the peels into a large pan, with enough cold water to make sure they are well covered. Make sure you don’t put too many peels in the pan – they need to be able to “move around” in the water as it boils. It would not hurt to even nearly fill the pan with water.
  3. Bring the pan to the boil, and boil the pan for around half an hour.
  4. Drain the peels, and return to the pan with another lot of cold water. Return to the boil and boil for around half an hour.
  5. Drain the peels, return to the pan for another lot of cold water, and boil for another half hour, for a third time.
  6. Drain the peels and put aside.
  7. Put the litre of water, rosewater and sugar in a pan, and over a low heat, stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  8. Put the peels in the syrup, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the syrup is reduced to the desired consistency.
  9. If not using immediately, store the peels in a sterilised jar layered with crushed cinnamon, with the remaining syrup poured over.
  10. When you want to serve the peels, drain them and put the peels on greaseproof paper on a rack to dry slightly. The reserved syrup is great spread on sweet cakes or biscuits.


  • Suckets were an important part of a banquet, whether served as an individual dish or as a garnish for other dishes, such as marchpane. They were sold ready made (Brears, 2016, 531); while it is possible to buy candied peel today, it’s less expensive to make your own, and is not particularly difficult.
  • If you look at modern recipes for candied peel, they are remarkably similar, however the times for the initial three boils varies considerably. Around half an hour was the time my great aunt used, so I went with that.
  • The most important thing to remember while candying citrus peel, is don’t put too many peels in the pan during the three boils. This triple-boiling removes the bitterness from the peels, and if there are too many peels in the pan and not enough water, not enough bitterness will be removed from the peels, and the final result will not be as pleasant to eat.
  • If going by the original recipe, I should be using twice as much rosewater in the final syrup. However, when I tried this, I found the rosewater flavour far too overpowering, and other people found the taste quite unpleasant. Especially seeing as rosewater is one of those love it or hate it flavourings. If you want to make it closer to what the original probably was, use at least 200mL of rosewater.
  • You can use other peels of other citrus, such as lime or grapefruit, in this recipe.

Candied peel

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Brears, Peter (2016). Cooking and Dining in Tudor and Early Stuart England

Pickled Mushrooms

Take your Buttons, clean ym with a spunge & put ym in cold water as you clean ym, then put ym dry in a stewpan & shake a handfull of salt over ym, yn stew ym in their own liquor till they are a little tender; then strain ym from ye liquor & put ym upon a cloath to dry till they are quite cold. Make your pickle before you do your Mushrooms, yt it may be quite cold before you put ym in. The pickle must be made with White-Wine, White-Pepper, quarter’d Nutmeg, a Blade of Mace, & a Race of ginger.

Take your Buttons, clean then with a spunge and put them in cold water as you clean them, then put them dry in a stewpan and shake a handful of salt over them, then stew them in their own liquor till they are a little tender; then strain them from the liquor and put them upon a cloth to dry until they are quite cold. Make your pickle before you do your mushrooms, so it may be quite cold before you put them in. The pickle must be made with white wine, white pepper, quartered nutmeg, a blade of mace, and a race of ginger.

Contrary to popular belief, there were some vegetables that were extremely popular in Elizabethan times. One dish that was becoming more popular was the Sallat, which like modern salads were composed of leaves, vegetables such as cucumbers and mushrooms, nuts and dried fruits. They were arranged to look beautiful on a plate, but of course there were times of year when popular sallat foods simply weren’t available. This is where pickling recipes like this one would have come in – in the autumn when mushrooms were plentiful, they would have been gathered and pickled en-masse to be available all year round.


1.5kg mushrooms 1 tsp white pepper corns
500mL white wine 1/4 of a whole nutmeg
approx. 1/2 cup of salt 1/2 tsp mace
1 piece dried ginger


  1. In a mortar and pestle, roughly crush the pepper corns and mace. Using a grater, grate the ginger and the nutmeg (grate a whole nutmeg until you have used a quarter of it).
  2. Put the spices and the wine in a pot and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, then leave to cool completely.
  3. Wash the mushrooms and remove the stalks.
  4. Put the mushrooms in a heavy bottomed pan, then throw the salt over them. Heat the mushrooms well and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have coloured and shrunk considerably. A lot of liquid will leach out of them.
  5. Strain the mushrooms, and put on a towel so they can dry and cool.
  6. When both the mushrooms and pickling wine are completely cool, put the mushrooms into a sterilised jar and pour over the pickling liquid. If there is any spice residue, pack this on top. Ensure the mushrooms are completely covered by the liquid.
  7. Keep the jar of mushrooms in a cool, dark place and leave to steep – the longer they steep the better.


  • Lady Fettiplace would not have had access to fresh ginger, and if you can find whole dried ginger it’s a revelation. I found some in an Indian grocers and it smells incredible.
  • Mace and nutmeg come from the same plant, Myrstica fragrans. Nutmeg is the seed in the middle of the fruit, and mace is a lacy membrane that surrounds this seed. Even though they come from the same plant, they have quite different tastes, and you can’t really substitute extra nutmeg for mace.
  • You will lose a lot of volume from the mushrooms as you are stewing them in the salt. We lost over 600g of weight – at the end of the process, we had 830g of mushrooms after starting out with 1.5kg.

Pickled mushrooms

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Spurling, Hilary (2011). Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book.

Marmalad of Apricocks

Take to a pounde of Apricockes a pounde of suger wanting 3 ounces wet yor suger in water & boyle it until yt come to candy then pare the plumes and cut them in quarters so put them into yor suger let them boyle till they will cut still stiringe and breakeinge them as fast as they boyle, when yt is enough put yt in boxes but cover yt not until yt bee cold
Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book

To a pound of apricots, take a pound of sugar. Using 3 ounces of water wet your sugar and boil it until it comes to candy, then pare the fruit and cut them into quarters. put them into your sugar and let them boil until the mixture can be cut. Stir and break them as fast as they boil, and when it is done put it in boxes but do not cover it untl it is cold.

When I first read that Elizabethan marmalade was a solid jelly (Sim, 2005, 158) rather than the somewhat gloopy substance we’re used to today, I was intrigued and began to look for recipes. This recipe from Elinor Fettiplace describes how marmalade was often presented as gifts in little boxes.


450g apricots, peeled and stoned 450g fine sugar approx. 80mL water


  1. Put the sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan and add just enough water to turn the sugar into a stiff paste; how much water will depend on how hot and humid the day is.
  2. Over a low heat, dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has completely dissolved to syrup, stop stirring, and allow the syrup to reach 114ᵒ (soft ball stage).
  3. Add the apricots and stir, giving the apricots a bit of a bash. Leave the mix over a low heat and stir it well every few minutes, to make sure the apricots don’t stick to the bottom of the pan, and to break them up. Leave it like this until the apricots have completely turned to mush. This can take at least an hour- do not rush it, and do not turn the heat up, or you will burn the apricots and possibly set the marmelad before the apricots have completely broken up.
  4. When the apricots have completely broken down, turn the heat up, and stir the mix really vigorously. It will start to resist the stirring. When the mix has reached 114ᵒ again, take it off the heat and pour into an oiled pan. Leave to cool completely, then carefully cut it into squares.
  5. If storing, use a layer of parchment paper or baking paper in between each layer to prevent it sticking.


  • “Marmelade” is derived from marmelo, the Portuguese word for quince (Sim, 2005, 158-159). This recipe is the same as is used to create quince paste (that is, to preserve quinces). As the same method was applied to other fruits to produce a similar result, the name “marmalade” was also applied.
  • Marmelade was often given as gifts in little wooden boxes (Spurling, 2011, 163).
  • When making this recipe, use good quality sugar. I made it once with cheap, generic supermarket sugar, and the end result was quite grainy, even though it set properly.
  • When making this recipe, try not to do it on a very humid day. The process of turning sugar into candy relies on boiling the water out of the sugar. On a humid day, it will take a lot longer, and if the weather is too humid, it won’t set at all. If your hair is wet with sweat or your clothes are stuck to your body, it’s too hot.
  • Unlike water, sugar syrup gets to 100ᵒ and keeps on getting hotter. It is also very sticky. So be careful not to splash any on yourself – sugar syrup burns really, really hurt.


Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Sim, Alison. Fast and Feast in Tudor England. Stroud, 2005.
Spurling, Hilary. Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book. London, 2011.

Cheries in Conserve (Preserved Cherries)

Take suger and Cheries a like Quantity put as much water to yor suger as will wet yt, and boyle yt till yt allmost come to suger again, then stone yor cherries and put them in and two every pound of them put 3 spoonfulls of the Juice of Red Respice wth them let them boyle so fast that the sirop may boyle upp above the Cheries till they are boyled enough, sciminge of yt as the scum ariseth, as soone as you take them of the fier put them presently into a dish of either silver or earth there let them stand until they bee almost cold then put them upp. (Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book)

Take equal quantities of sugar and cherries. Put as much water to your sugar as will wet it, and boile it until it almost come to sugar again, then stone your cherries and put them in. To every pound of cherries put 3 spoonfuls of the juice of raspberries. Let them boil so fast that the syrup may boil up above the cherries until they are boiled enough, skimming off the scum as it rises. As soon as you take them off the fire put them into a dish of either silver or earth. There let them stand until they be almost cold then put them up.


450g cherries, stoned 40mL raspberry juice
450g fine sugar approx. 60mL



  1. Put the sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan and add just enough water to turn the sugar into a stiff paste; how much water will depend on how hot and humid the day is.
  2. Over a low heat, dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has completely dissolved to syrup, stop stirring, and allow the syrup to reach 114ᵒ (soft ball stage).
  3. Put the cherries and raspberry juice in the syrup and return to the boil. Keep watching until the syrup boils up over the cherries, as described in Lady Fettiplace’s recipe. This is actually when the syrup gets to around 114ᵒ (soft ball stage) again.


  4. Allow to cool before serving or storing in a sealed, sterilised jar.


  • Raspberry juice has quite a tart flavour, and it was probably added to cut through the extreme sweetness. However, it’s quite hard to get hold of proper raspberry juice unless you juice them yourself. Do not add raspberry cordial instead; it is too sweet and actually doesn’t taste of raspberry juice. If you can’t get hold of proper raspberry juice, use rosewater instead as a period appropriate substitute.
  • Use good quality sugar to make this recipe. Cheap sugar can result in the syrup having an unpleasant, grainy texture.
  • Feasts in the Tudor and Stuart periods ended with a banquet course, a gathering of the most favoured or important guests, where they were served a range of sugary confections. A dish like this would have been considered a wet sucket, and served in its syrup. The cherries would have been eaten by spearing them with the end of a spoon.

Cherries in preserve

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Spurling, Hilary (2011). Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book