What is Taste of the Past?

Taste of the Past is where I share my love of traditional cookery. Recipes from the days before TV dinners and microwaves right down the ages to the earliest cook books that I can get my hands on. I hope you enjoy my experiments as much as I do. Please share your own ideas, efforts and feedback in the comments.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A selection of vegetable recipes from the 1600s


Page contains a list of recipes from the 1600s and is designed to compliment the Forty Hall First Fruits event.  I have written about most of these recipes elsewhere on my blog, website or Facebook.  I have included links to these resources at the bottom of the page for people who would like to have a look.

i am starting off with just the original recipes and then where I can I will add some modern instructions.  Most of these recipes are in the public domain and have been for a long time.  However a few are still under copy write and so I have not taken the liberty of reproducing the work of a modern cook whose book is still in print, that would be a bit too cheeky.

When choosing the recipes I have focussed on ones that are vegetarian, don't rely on exotic ingredients and don't use raw or lightly cooked eggs. 

A quick look will show you that the cookery writers of the time did not feel constrained by quantities and the lack of accurate measurements can be very annoying to modern cooks.  If it helps, try to think of this in a positive way, if you hate a certain ingredient then use it very sparingly.  Make small quantities to start with and have fun experimenting until you arrive at a recipe that works for you.


To butter Gourds, Pumpions, Cucumbers or Muskmelons. Robert May 1660

Cut them into pieces, and pare and cleanse them; then have a boiling pan of water, and when it boils put in the pumpions, &c. with some salt, being boil’d, drain them well from the water, butter them, and serve them on sippets with pepper. Otherways. Bake them in an oven, and take out the seed at the top, fill them with onions, slic’t apples, butter, and salt, butter them, and serve them on sippets. Otherways. Fry them in slices, being cleans’d & peel’d, either floured or in batter; being fried, serve them with beaten butter, and vinegar, or beaten butter and juyce of orange, or butter beaten with a little water, and served in a clean dish with fryed parsley, elliksanders, apples, slic’t onions fryed, or sweet herbs.

Vegetables in 1600s

A list of Vegetables from 1669

(I will be adding to this post in the future)

Sir Kenelm Digby was a gentleman, a privateers, diplomat, scientist and intellectual.  During his varied life, lived through one of England's most turbulent periods of history, he collected recipes from his friends.  Published after his death, The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Knight Opened, covers and extraordinary range of subjects and gives so many recipes for different alcoholic drinks that you might be forgiven for thinking that the favourite hobby of the English aristocracy was making home brew.

File:Kenelm Digby (1603-1665) by Anthony van Dyck.jpg 
Sir Kenelm Digby, artist unknown

At the very end, in Appendix III it lists all of the herbs, flowers, fruits and less common vegetables used in the cook book along with other flavourings.  He does add that he left out the more common vegetables. For instance I know that he definitely has recipes that include peas, beans and asparagus.  So for anyone interested in what green and growing things the people of the 17th century might have been using, here is the list.  I have added  some spacings.

It must be remembered that Sir Digby was wandering around Europe with the royal court who would have had access to a lot more food than everyone else.


1. Agrimony; alexander; angelica; avens, leaves & flowers; balm; bay-leaves; beet leaves; bettony, wild; bettony, Paul's; bistort; bloodwort; bluebottles; blue-button; borage, leaves & flowers; bramble, red, tops of; broom-buds; bugle; bugloss, leaves & flowers; burnet; carduus benedictus; carrot, wild; celandine; cersevril; chicory; chives; clove gilly-flowers; clown's all-heal; coltsfoot; comfrey; cowslip & French cowslip flowers; dragons; elder flowers; endive; eyebright; fennel; fever-few; garlic; ground-ivy; groundsel; hart's tongue, leaves; hops, flowers; horehound; hypericum, tops & flowers; hyssop; ladies' mantle; lettuce, leaves & stalks; lily of the valley; liquorice; liverwort; maidenhair; marigold, flowers & leaves; marjoram, sweet; marjoram, wild; marshmallow, leaves, flowers, & stalks; may-weed, brown; meadowsweet; mellilot, flowers; mint; spearmint; mouse-ear; mugwort; muscovy; nettle, red; oak of Jerusalem; organ; origanum [wild marjoram]; oseille; parietary; peas (chick); pellitory-of-the-wall; penny-royal; philipendula; pimpernel; pourpier; primrose, flowers; purslane; ribwort; rocket; rosemary, tops, flowers, & sprigs; rose; rue; sage, (red & wild), leaves & flowers; saxifrage; sanicle; scabious; scurvy grass; self-heal; shallots; sibboulets; skirrets; smallage; sorrel (wood); spike [spignel?]; spleenwort; spinach; St. John's wort; strawberry leaves; sweetbriar, leaves, tops, buds; sweet oak; sweetwort; tamarisk; tansy; thyme (broad, lemon, mother, & wild); violet, leaves & flowers; wallflowers (yellow); wall rue; watercress; wheat (green); white-wort; winter savoury; woodbine; wormwood (sea & Roman); yarrow. (From this list I have omitted the commoner vegetables.) 

2. Roots.—Alexander; angelica; asparagus; beet; betony, bittersweet; bluebottle; borage; coltsfoot; elecampane; eringo; fennel; fern; galingale; horse-radish; marshmallow; nettle (red); orris; parsley; scabious; sorrel; strawberry; succory; thyme (wild); tormentilla. 

3. Seeds.—Anise; cardamom; carraway; citron; coriander; fennel; gromwell; melon; musk grains; mustard; nettle; parsley; saffron; tulip, seedy buds of; wormwood. 

4. Fruits.—Apples (codlings, ginet moils, pearmains, pippins, golden pippins, red streaks); apricots; barberries; bilberries; cherries (black, Kentish, Morello); currants (dried, black, red); damsons; dates; jujubes; juniper berries; lemons; pears (bon chrétien & wardens); plums; prunes; raisins; rasps; sweetbriar berries; strawberries. 

5. Barks, woods.—Ash-tree bark; lignum cassiæ. 

6. Nuts.—Almonds; chestnuts; pine kernels; pistachios; walnuts (green). 

7. Juices.—Balm; celandine; cherry; hop; lemon; onion; orange; spearmint; spinach; tansy. 

8.—Distilled waters of angelica; cinnamon; mallow; orange-flower; plantain; rose (red & damask). 

9. Spices of all sorts; cloves; cinnamon (also oil of, & spirit of); ginger; mace; mustard; nutmeg; pepper; peppercorns. 

10. Wines.—Canary sack; claret; Deal; elder; Malaga (old); Muscat; Muscadine (Greek); red; Rhenish; sack, sherry sack; Spanish; white.

11. Other liquors.—Ale & beer; afterworts; lees of beer & wine; aqua vitæ; orangeado. 

12. Vinegars of elder wine, & of white wine. 

13. Verjuice of cider, & green sour grapes. 

14. Other notable seasonings and ingredients:— Ambergris; ivory; leaf gold; powder of white amber; powder of pearl; Spanish pastilles

Digby, Kenelm  (2011-12-22). The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened (New Illustrated) (Kindle Locations 3755-3781).  . Kindle Edition.