Pickled Ash keys

Ash comes from the Old English ‘æsc’ which means spear.

The tree has often been believed to have healing power and carrying the keys would protect the user against witchcraft.


  • 4 cups/200g ash keys
  • 2 cup vinegar
  • Splash of water
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Tablespoon honey 


Boil the keys for 10 minutes. Drain the water and boil again for a further 10 minutes.

Drain, Pack into warm, sterile jars or another suitable container and set aside.

Meanwhile simmer the rest of the ingredients together for 10 minutes.

Pour the vinegar mix over the keys, seal the jar or container immediately and store for a minimum of 2-3 months before eating.

Pickled blackberries

Be sure to pick your berries before Michaelmas (Sept 29st), after this date it is said the devil pisses on them.


  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 500g/3 cups blackberries 


Heat the honey and vinegar, until the honey is dissolved.

Add the blackberries and simmer for 10 minutes.

Strain the berries into warm, sterile jars or another suitable container. Continue to simmer the vinegar solution until it thickens a little. 

Pour the vinegar solution over the berries, seal the jar or container immediately and store for at least a few weeks before eating.

Great served with bread and cheese.

Elderberry mead

To the Saxons and the Danes the elder tree was sacred, thought to contain a spirit or Goddess. To take a part of a tree would require gaining permission from the spirit or Goddess, lest she take revenge on the offending person.

It was thought that if you burned elder wood you would see the Devil, but if you planted elder by your house it would keep the Devil away. Elder trees were the sources of many coloured dyes; Blue and purple from the berries; yellow and green from the leaves; grey and black from the bark.

Most of the Elder tree is poisonous, containing high levels of cyanide.


1500g elderberries 

4.5l/19 cups boiling water 

1.5 kg/4.5 cups honey 

5g/1 tsp pectic enzyme 

5g/1 tsp of red wine yeast 

5g/1 tsp yeast nutrient 


Put all the berries into a large bucket and crush with a rolling pin. Add the honey, and pectic enzyme and cover with the boiling water. Stir well.

Once cool, make a note of your gravity.

Add your yeast and nutrient and cover loosely for 1 week before straining into a demijohn with an airlock.

When fermentation ends (bubbles passing through the airlock at less than one a minute) check your final gravity.

Finally, syphon the wine into bottles and cork.

Age for a minimum of 6 months before drinking, but a year is better.

Fish cakes


  • 250g cooked salmon
  • 250g cooked cod
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons flour


Flake the cooked fish into a bowl. Stir in the mustard, salt & flour, followed by the egg.

Heat a little butter in a skillet.

Take small handfuls of the mixture and form into balls. Place the balls into the hot pan and squash slightly into ‘cakes’.

Cook for about five minutes on each side, until cooked through and golden in colour.

Chicken & Broad bean stew


  • Butter
  • 1 onions
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 carrots, including the greens (white or purple – not orange!)
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • A few rashers of bacon
  • 600ml/2 cups chicken stock
  • 300ml/1 cup ale
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A few sprigs of thyme and marjoram
  • 1 cup podded broad beans

Melt the butter in a large pan or cauldron. Chop the onion, celery & carrots and add to the pan. Fry for a few minutes to soften.

Dice the chicken & slice the bacon. Add to the pan and fry for a few minutes.

Pour over the chicken stock and ale, add the herbs and the beans. Stir well, bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and serve with fresh sourdough bread

Fennel & beer bread


For the starter;

  • 1 cup beer dregs
  • 1 cup flour

For the bread;

  • 800g/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 550-600ml 1.5-2 cups beer


To make the starter, mix the beer dregs and flour in a bowl and cover loosely for 24 hours. After this time it should be quite bubbly.

Put the flour, fennel and salt, into a large bowl and mix together.

Add the honey and half a cup of the starter. Slowly add the beer a little at a time, and mix together to form a dough. It needs to be workable, so as not to stick to your hands too much, but too dry and it will fall apart. You can add more or less beer depending on how your dough feels. I find it varies slightly every time.

Tip out onto a work surface and knead for around 5-10 minutes.

Roll your dough into a ball, and dust with a little flour. Put it into a bowl and cover loosely with a damp cloth, to stop it drying out. Leave to prove for at least several hours, but overnight is ideal.

Sourdough takes longer to develop than bread made with shop bought yeast, but benefits from the extra time, as it develops a better flavour. The loaf should increase in size.

Tip your dough back out onto your work surface and carefully deflate it by poking it with your fingers.

Shape your dough into a loaf, and dust with a little flour. Place onto a lightly flour dusted oven tray and prove for another hour.

Heat your oven to 230 degrees Celsius. If you have a Dutch oven put this in your oven to heat as well.

Remove the Dutch oven (if using) and grease the inside with a little butter.

Place your loaf in the centre of the Dutch oven, pop the lid on and put back into the oven to cook for 30 minutes, remove the lid and cook for a further 15 minutes. If you are not using a Dutch oven, cook on an oven tray for 30 minutes and reduce the temperature to 170 degrees Celsius for the last 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, the loaf should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom.

Leave to cool fully before cutting.


Blood pancakes


  • 100g rye flour
  • 2 tablespoons Viking blood (although dried pigs blood works well too)
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml beer (or other liquid)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Butter


Whisk together the flour, blood, eggs, beer and salt until smooth.

Melt some butter in a pan and add a ladle full of batter to the pan.

Cook for a minute or 2 on each side, until cooked through.

Serve with berries & honey or bacon



With a lack of refrigeration, salting would have been a preferred method of preservation and storage for the Vikings and Saxons. Though with salt being expensive, brining would have been more commonly used.

Bacon seems to have been produced in large quantities, at least by the Saxons. This recipe, while being a modern variation, makes use of ingredients that where available at the time and is based loosely on an old Yorkshire bacon cure.


For the cure;

    300g salt
    A few bay leaves
    2 teaspoons juniper berries (crushed)

2 teaspoons black pepper (freshly cracked)

For the bacon:

1kg Pork belly

    1 tablespoon honey
    • Vinegar


The quantities given here are approximates, don’t worry too much about them being exact.

Mix together the cure ingredients.

Rub the pork belly with honey.

Add 1 handful of the cure to a food safe container, large enough to fit the pork belly.

Add the pork belly and rub the cure into the meat. Place in the fridge or somewhere cool for 24 hours.

Drain off any liquid that forms in the container and sprinkle another handful of cure over the pork. Repeat this process for 5 days.

After 5 days, rinse the pork with clean, cold water and pat dry. It should be feeling quite firm at this stage.

Rub the pork with a little vinegar and either hang somewhere cool or put it back in the fridge. Wait for a minimum of 5 days before eating.

Pan fried turnips


  • Butter
  • 5 small turnips
  • 2 teaspoons of mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs


Heat some butter in a pan.

Cut the turnips into 1cm squares and add to the pan. Fry for 5 to 10 minutes until browning.

Stir in the mustard and thyme and fry for a few minutes.

Stir in the breadcrumbs and cook until golden in colour.

Gammon cooked in mead


  • Gammon
  • Teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • Teaspoon of black pepper
  • Bottle of mead (or 2)
  • Method:

    Place the gammon in a pan with the mustard and pepper.

    Cover with mead and bring to the boil and simmer for an hour and a half. Top up the liquid with More mead or water, if necessary, to keep the gammon fully covered.

    Pour away the liquid (or use it as a base for making gravy) and let the gammon rest for 10 minutes before serving.