Dried herbs from the Kuchenmaistrey

Herbs were not always fresh, and herb dishes are not automatically seasonal.

4. xiiii. Item the above herbs that belong in sauces, if you wish to keep them all year so they do not lose their virtue and their savour, catch dew water with a clean, newly washed linen cloth that you drag back and forth on a meadow. Press it out into a clean pitcher and soak the herbs in this, be it sage, parsley, or whatever herb it be, for one day and one night. Then take them out and let them dry very well and dry them in a baking oven, and store them high in the house in a basket. And when you wish to prepare the sauce, soak them in wine or vinegar and pound them with bread as is proper for the sauce when(ever) you wish.

4. xv. Item when a wine, a sauce or a food causes someone repeated eructations (auß schmeck), he should take of the same dried parsley, rue, or sage and eat that. Chew it well, and he will be free of the smell and the stinking breath.

4. xvi. Item what herbs are harvested in May, such as sage, parsley, pennyroyal, meadowsweet, rue, that are fine and noble. Dry them in a baking oven, pound and powder them well. You may keep them over the year and use them in all dishes.

This is an interesting side note to the recipes: Dried herbs were not just a modern kitchen staple. That means the ever popular green sauces would have been available year-round. It still seems likely these would have been prepared in the household and not for commercial sale, though. At least I know of no record of culinary herbs for sale this way.

I will continue posting recipes from the Nuremberg Kuchenmaistrey produced around 1490, but my mode will change. Instead of translating one daily and posting it here, I will try to use what time there is to translate as much as I can and post only some of them here. Once the entire text is done, I will try to get it published either as a book, or online.

The Kuchenmaistrey (mastery of the kitchen) was the earliest printed cookbook in German (and only missed being the earliest printed cookbook in any language by a few years). The book gave rise to a vibrant culture of amended and expanded manuscript copies as well as reprints spanning almost a century. The recipes seem designed to appeal to a wealthy, literate and cosmopolitan clientele.

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