Unlike in modern society, where most people prefer eating alone, the Vikings enjoyed eating in the company of their friends and families. They were not only great warriors but also farmers. The Vikings kept small farms and grew different crops for their survival.
They were not only farmers but also hunters and fishermen. Since the Vikings that went on raids needed a lot of energy, they prepared enough food that they could eat and even carry during trips. In this article, we will look at the foods that the Vikings ate, including the crops that they grew on their farms. Enjoy!
What vegetables did Vikings grow?
According to archeologists, they discovered sites made up of kitchen gardens and cultivated fields that the Vikings used during the 11th century. Finds of seeds and pollen in most sites prove that the Norse diet mainly consisted of vegetables. They mostly consumed what they grew on their farms.
Between 700 and 1000 AD, the Vikings bought cuttings and seeds from foreign plants and then introduced them into their Scandinavian homes. For instance, they bought the Ground elder plant and cultivated it as a vegetable. The Viking women were in charge of the kitchen gardens, and they used to grow vegetables and herbs.
Some of the vegetables that the Vikings grew on their farms include gale, kale, cabbage, onions, celery, and turnips. They also grew vegetables that could add flavor to their foods, such as spices like garlic, coriander, mustard, and cumin. The Vikings’ vegetables were strange compared to what we have today. Did you know that the Vikings consumed white carrots rather than orange ones? Well, now you do.
The Vikings also grew herbs on their farms for medicinal and ritual purposes. Some of the herbs they grew included thyme, horseradish, and parsley. The Vikings also grew fruits on their farms like plums, cherries, and apples. Besides consuming these fruits, they also used some of them to prepare wine. The Viking farms had a lot of apple orchids and berries. They harvested berries such as cloudberries and strawberries during summer.
What crops did the Vikings grow?
The Vikings were hard-working since they grew vegetables and crops to sustain both humans and animals. Some of the crops they grew on their farms included wheat, flax, rye, oats, barley, and peas. Each crop that they grew had a specific purpose. For instance, the Vikings grew barley and used it to make beer and flax to turn it into linen. Rye and oats were made into porridge for the young ones.
They also used some grains to make mead, bread, and ale. The Vikings grew grains and then fermented them in ceramic pots. This practice enabled them to make sour-tasting bread that they enjoyed eating. Mead and ale were common during Viking feasts. Most of the grains they grew in the Northern climate also enabled them to prepare stews.
They sowed most of the crops during spring and harvested them by summer. The Vikings used a plow that they referred to as ard to cut grooves during sowing. They also used other tools during crop plantation and harvesting, such as sharp knives, hoes, iron sickles, scythes, and shovels.
Growing crops, however, came with some challenges for the Vikings. For instance, they lacked technological innovations, and the growing season was short. Environmental factors such as lack of enough sunlight were also problems that affected the crops that the Vikings grew on their farms.
Due to such issues, the Vikings could not solely depend on crop growing. Food from the Viking farms was more plentiful during fall and summer than during spring and winter. However, archeological studies show that the Vikings did not experience mineral or vitamin deficiencies.
What food did the Vikings eat?
Apart from grains and vegetables, the Vikings also ate other forms of food. The Vikings not only farmed but also kept different animals for food. Some of the Vikings’ animals included cattle, goats, horses, and sheep. Such animals gave them beef, goat meat, horse meat, mutton, and milk. Sheep also gave the Vikings wool that they used for their clothing.
Besides drinking milk, the Vikings also used the milk they got from their cattle to make dairy products like skyr, curds, butter, and cheese. These Vikings also enjoyed buttermilk and whey. They used sour whey to preserve meat during winter. They only slaughtered animals like cows and goats only after they had stopped producing milk.
In areas that experienced very harsh climatic conditions, the Vikings kept pigs and poultry such as chickens, ducks, or geese rather than growing crops. Most Viking homes did not lack pork, eggs, or bird meat. Since the Vikings did not have modern preservation methods, they used to smoke or dry their meat after slaughtering animals to preserve it for a while.
Since Scandinavian regions experienced severe winters, the Vikings kept most of their cattle indoors. They, therefore, grew a lot of hay to sustain their animals. Apart from getting meat from domestic animals, Vikings also hunted down certain animals for their meat. For instance, they loved hunting deers for venison and wild seabirds for their eggs.
Since the Vikings also spent a lot of time in the water, they were fishermen. They caught freshwater fish and saltwater fish such as seals, whales, walruses, and squids during their trips and ate them. Fish formed 25% of the Viking diet. They preserved seafood through fermentation in brine or drying. The Vikings also kept bees for their honey and used it as a sweetener. Some honey was also used to make alcoholic drinks such as mead.
Everyone, including the young Vikings and adults, worked. While the young ones were given duties such as feeding chickens, adult males Vikings went hunting or fishing, and the women grew crops on their farms and prepared meals. Some of the crops they grew included barley, wheat, oats, and rye. Apart from crops, the Vikings also consumed vegetables, fruits, and meat.