food-seasons-msg - 5/3/08
Info. on when various foods were in season in period times.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 02:06:35 +0100
From: Thomas Gloning <Thomas.Gloning at germanistik.uni-giessen.de>
Subject: SC - Manger en Chine / Dietary of health (1542) etc./ pheasant
Item: about 16th century English texts:
Andrew Borde's 'dyetary of Health' (1542) was published in 1870 by F.
Furnivall in the Early English Text Society's Extra Series X, pages
Furnivall edited several other (a.o. 16th century) food texts in
'Manners and Meals in Olden Time' (1868).
In addition, there is 'The good huswifes handmaide for the kitchen'
(1594?), published by Stuart Peachey in 1992. -- In this text, before
the recipes, there is a section about the seasons, in which pheasants
are mentioned twice:
 To knowe the due seasons for the use of al maner of
meats throughout the yeare.
Brawn is best from the holy Rood day til Lent, and at no
other time commonlie used for service. Bacon, Beefe and
Mutton, is good at all tymes, but the woorst tyme for
Mutton is from Easter to Midsommer. A fatte yoong Pig is
never out of season. A Goose is worst at Midsommer, +
best in stubble tyme, but they be best of all when they
be young green Geese. Veale is all tymes good, but best
in Januarie and Februarie. Kidde and young Lambe is best
between Christmasse + Lent, + good from Easter to
Whitsontide, but Kid is ever good. Hennes be all times
good, but best from Alhallowntyde to Lent. fatte Capons be
ever good. Peacocks bee ever in season, but when they be
yoong and of a good stature, they be as good as Feasants,
+ so be yoong Grouces. Sinets be best betweene Alhallowen
day and Lent. A Mallard is good after a frost, til
Candlemas, so is a Teal and other wild foule that
swimmeth. A Woodcocke is best from October to Lent, and
so be all other birdes, as Ousels, Thrushes and Robins,
and such other. Herons, Curlewes, Crane, Bittour,
Bustard, be at all times good, but best in Winter.
Feasant, Partridge and Raile, be ever good, but best when
they bee taken with a Hawke, Quaile + Larks be ever good
Connies be ever in season, but best from October to Lent
A gelded Deare, whether he be fallow or red, is ever
good. A Pollard is speciallie good in May, at Midsommer
he is a Bucke, and verie good till Holy Rood day before
Michaelmas, so like wise is a stagge, but he is principal
in Maie. A barren Doe is best in Winter. A Pricket and a
Sorell syster is ever in season. Chickens bee ever good:
and so be yoong Pigeons.
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 21:10:05 -0400
From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>
Subject: Re: SC - Manger en Chine / Dietary of health (1542) etc./ pheasant
Thomas Gloning wrote:
> In addition, there is 'The good huswifes handmaide for the kitchen'
> (1594?), published by Stuart Peachey in 1992. -- In this text, before
> the recipes, there is a section about the seasons, in which pheasants
> are mentioned twice:
>  To knowe the due
> seasons for the use of al maner of
> meats throughout the yeare.
> Brawn is best from the holy Rood day til Lent, and at no
> other time commonlie used for service. Bacon, Beefe and
> Mutton, is good at all tymes, but the woorst tyme for
> Mutton is from Easter to Midsommer. A fatte yoong Pig is
> Michaelmas, so like wise is a stagge, but he is principal
> in Maie. A barren Doe is best in Winter. A Pricket and a
> Sorell syster is ever in season. Chickens bee ever good:
> and so be yoong Pigeons.
<hah.> Compare the above to this, from "A proper Newe Booke of Cokerye",
c.~1545 C.E. :
"THE BOOKE OF COKERYE
"Brawne is beste from a fortenyghte before Mychalmas tyll lente. Beife
and BAcon is good at all times in the yere. Mutton is good at all tymes,
but from Easter to myd Sommer is worste. A fatte pygge is ever in
season. A goose is worste in midsomer mone and beste in stubble tyme,
but when they be yong grene geese, then they be beste. Veale is beste in
Januarye, and February, and all other times good. Lamb and yonge kydde
is beste between Christmas and lente, and good from Easter to
Witsontyde. Kyd is ever good. Hennes be good at all tymes but best from
November to lente. Fat Capons be ever in season. Pecockes be euer good
but when they be yong and of a good stature, they be as good as
fesantes, and so be yonge grouces. Sinettes be beste between All
Hallowen daye and Lente. A mallarde is good after a froste, tyll
Candelmas, so is a Teile and other wilde foule that swymmeth. A Wodcocke
is best from Octobre to Lente; and so be all other byrds as Ousels and
Thrysselles, Robins and such other. Herons, Curlus, Crane, Bitture,
Bustarde, be at all times good; but best in wynter. Fesauntes, Partriche
and Rayle be euer good but beste when they be taken with a hauke. Quayle
and Larkes be euer in season. Connies be ever good and so is a doo. A
hare is euer good, but beste from October to Lente. A gelded deer
whether he be falowe or readde, is euer in season. A Pollarde is
speciall good in maye, at Midsommer he is a Bucke, and is verye good
tyll holye Rood day before Mighelmas so lykewyse is a stagge, but he is
principal in Maye. A barren doo is best in wynter. A Pricked and a
sorrell syster is euer in season. Chekins be euer good, and so bee
Pigions yf they be younge."
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2000 18:58:10 -0500
From: Christine A Seelye-King <mermayde at juno.com>
Subject: SC - Fruit and Vegetable Availability
Below is the information off of a graph I was given in my apprentice
classes many years ago. It is much easier to read as a graph, but I have
transposed it for a text-based format. The information is courtesy of
the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, Washington, DC. The
graph lists common fruits and vegetable supplies in 4 stages: Scarce or
Nonexistent, Moderate, Plentiful, and Abundant. In most cases, I have
not listed the Scarce times.
I must emphasize that this is a graph for the mid U.S., and for MODERN
availablility, and should not be used as a guide as to when these items
were available in the MA. Still, it is a pretty good guide as far as
when prices are likely to be at their cheapest. (Obviously, areas like
California, Texas and Florida will have better availability than this.)
Apples - plentiful Sept. - May, moderate June - August
Apricots - moderate in May, abundant in June- July
Artichokes - moderate June - Feb, plentiful March - May
Asparagus - moderate in Feb, abundant March - April, plentiful in May,
moderate in June
Beets - moderate Nov - May, plentiful June - Oct.
Berries (blackberries, dewberries, raspberries) abundant June - July,
moderate in August
Blueberries - abundant June-July, plenitful in August, moderate in Sept.
Broccoli - plentiful Oct. - April, moderate May - Sept.
Brussels Sprouts - plentiful Oct. - Feb, moderate March, April, May and Sept.
Cabbage - plentiful year-round
Cantaloupes - plentiful in May, Sept. & Oct, abundant June - August
Carrots - plentiful year-round
Cauliflower - moderate Dec. - August, plentiful Sept - Nov.
Celery - plentiful year-round
Cherries - moderate in May & August, abundant June - July
Cranberries - moderate in Sept. & Jan, plentiful in Oct. & Dec, abundant
Cucumbers - plentiful year - round
Eggplant - moderate Nov - July, plentiful August - Oct.
Grapes - moderate May, June & Dec, plentiful July & Nov., abundant Aug - Oct.
Grapefruit - moderate June - Oct, plentiful Nov - May
Greens - plentiful year - round
Honeydew - moderate May & Nov., plentiful June, July & Oct., abundant
August - Sept.
Lemons - plentiful year-round
Lettuce - plentiful year-round
Limes - moderate Sept - May, plentiful June - August
Mushrooms - moderate year-round
Nectarines - moderate in June & Sept, abundant July - August
Okra - moderate March - Oct.
Onions, Dry - plentiful year-round
Onions, green - moderate Oct. - Feb., plentiful March - Sept.
Oranges - moderate July - Sept., plentiful Oct. - June
Parsley & Herbs (includes parsley root, anise, basil, chives, dill,
horseradish & others) - moderate Jan - Oct, plentiful Nov & Dec.
Parsnips - moderate Sept - May
Peaches - moderate in May, plentiful in June & Sept, abundant July - August
Pears - moderate Dec - May & July, plentiful Aug - Nov. (listed as scarce in
Pineapples - moderate July - Feb., plentiful March - June
Plums-Prunes - moderate in June & Oct., plentiful in Sept., abundant July
- - August
Radishes - plentiful year-round
Rhubarb - moderate Jan - April & June, abundant in May
Spinach - moderate June - Dec, plentiful Jan - May
Squash - plentiful year-round
Strawberries - moderate Aug - Feb., plentiful in March & July, abundant
April - June
Sweet Potatoes - moderate May - August, plentiful in Sept, Oct, & Dec -
April, abundant in November
Tangerines - moderate in Nov., abundant in Dec., plentiful in Jan.
Turnips & Rutabegas - moderate year-round
Watermelons - moderate in April, Sept & Oct., plentiful in May & Aug,
abundant June - July
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2001 18:32:52 -0500 (EST)
From: Jenne Heise <jenne at mail.browser.net>
Subject: SC - Local Harvest search engine
thought this site reviewed on the Librarians Index to the Internet might
be of interest to cooks & feast planners:
" Local Harvest - http://www.localharvest.org/
This is the retail face of sustainable agriculture! Search
by zip code for locally grown foods from small farms.
Database includes farmers' markets, U-Pick farms, farm
stands, meat/dairy/egg producers, and CSAs (community
supported agriculture) offering regular delivery of
seasonal produce to local depots. Also searchable by
state, crop type, name, or key words from the description.
Listings include locations, contact information, and lists
of available products by season. - pf "
Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise jenne at tulgey.browser.net
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2005 08:53:51 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kathleen Madsen <kmadsen12000 at yahoo.com>
Subject: [Sca-cooks] Cream, has evolved to discussion about milk and
To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org
Plus, you need to realize that the medieval animal is
completely different that what is available today.
Most of today's milking animals were bred for their
"turbo" milk production and were introduced by
necessity between WWI and WWII. A lot of the older
breeds were phased out at that time because they just
didn't make enough to meet demand of a needy country.
I think there's a bit more to May milk than just the
sweet spring grasses and terroir. Cows and goats give
birth in late January and much of February and are
weaned about 4 weeks later. Much of the
commercialized dairy producers try and wean within
10-14 days so that they don't lose much of their
production. The chemical makeup of the milk is shaped
in a kind of skewed bellcurve with most of the
butterfat and proteins being in the milk in the first
third or so of the milking cycle. It tapers off over
time to where there is little left at the end of the
season and the animal is ready to be dried off. May
milk just happens to fall at the best part of the bell
curve where there is the most proteins and butterfat.
This composition of milk naturally makes the best
cheeses and butters. At the end of the cycle you get
the not so good cheeses, the ones that the paste looks
anemic and pale. This milk is really, really
difficult to work with and you tend to get mixed
The month of May is the best month for cow and goats
milk, however, sheep milk is at it's best toward the
end of April and into June. Why? Because sheep give
birth and freshen about 6-8 weeks after cows and goats
do. This improved quality of milk can't be traced
back to good, sweet grasses and herbage. Rather, it's
because of where their freshening cycle lands and what
the lamb needs nutritionally from the mother.
Now don't get me wrong, a lot of the flavor that comes
through the milk is from terroir (all the
environmental and physical factors that the animal
experiences that day) and what it eats. It does play
a role, but it doesn't affect the makeup of the milk
as far as butterfat and protein content go. We have a
local guy that feeds his cattle on stale bread at
times and then switches over to orange peels. You can
taste the change.
Back to my morning cup of tea,
Date: Thu, 11 May 2006 07:45:04 -0400
From: Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Harvest times
To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>
> I'm working on a painted casket for my stuff and found an interesting early
> 13th century cycle of 'Month pictures', but I'm wondering about their
> provenance. The thing is, they place haying in June, grain harvest in July,
> threshing in August, which seems a bit early for Northern Europe. The vintage
> is in October, which tends to be a bit cold and wet for that. Now, I'm not an
> expert on Europe's microclimates, but I'm sure there will be one here. So I'm
> wondering: does that generally square with Southern France or Northern Italy?
> Or is it more Central France/Southern Rhineland? I know it's wrong for my
I'm no expert, but I've been plowing through Bridget Ann Henisch's _The
Medieval Calendar Year_, a study of exactly these sorts of calendar
labors. She points out that the labors of the months do seem to be
somewhat consistent across calendars from different parts of Europe. She
places haying in June or July, grain harvest in July or August,
Threshing at the same time or after. Picking grapes is usually shown in
September, and vintining in October. Lammas (Loaf-mass) in England
celebrated the first loaf of bread from the new harvest, which gives you
a sort of date...
Another important point to remember is that the 'labors of the months'
were usually tied up with the Zodiac sign also. As you know, the Zodiac
sign changes around the 20th of the month. So you may want to look for
clues as to whether you are dealing with Gemini or Cancer when the
haying begins, etc.
-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net
Date: Thu, 11 May 2006 08:45:00 -0400
From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Harvest times
To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>
In Slovenia at the Bishop's Palace in Škofja Loka there
are copies and originals of medieval panels and/or frescos featuring a
medieval peasants engaged in a number of activities. These
aren't arranged by the month; rather most are connected to a theme of
"Things or activities that one isn't supposed to do on a Sunday."
One of the scenes indicates that one shouldn't thresh wheat
while naked. (The ladies harvesting were topless.)
The Dominion of Skofja Loka (973-1803) was under the rule of the
Freising Bishops of Bavaria so your search
might extend into the Balkans.
Slovenian spelling and the internet
is always interesting, but I finally located a picture.
shows a version of it.
There's also a version at the National Ethnology Museum in Ljubljana