Not exhaustive lists, but a good start – Please note that these lists aren’t perfect. They will continue to mutate as I learn more. If you have suggestions, please comment!

Also, please keep in mind that the foods that our ancestors had were not the hybrids and varieties that have been bred in the last 400 years. Carrots and beets were white. Onions weren’t the same, (except for spring onions) grains didn’t produce as much, melons have been bred up to be very sweet, corn has also been bred for sugar content….. Think about it!


Period spices

  • allspice
  • cane sugar
  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • grains of paradise
  • honey
  • long pepper
  • nutmeg
  • pepper black/white/chinese green pepper/peppercorns
  • Sea salt
  • sugar (late)

Period Common Herbs – (Flavorings, teas, edible decorations)

  • Basil (many varieties, not all are period to Europe)
  • Bay
  • Borage
  • Caraway
  • Chamomile or Camomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
  • Chervil
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) rush leeks
  • Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), cilantro, Chinese parsley
  • Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea or wild clary is Salvia verbenaca)
  • Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
  • Elderflower
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Gillyflower
  • Horehound
  • Horseradish
  • Hyssop (Hysoppus officinalis)
  • Johnny-jump-up [Viola Tricolor], the wild pansy, hearts’-ease
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm [Melissa officinalis]
  • Lily
  • Lovage
  • Marjoram, sweet or knotted marjoram [Origanum majorana]
  • Mint
  • Mustard (particularly black mustard)
  • wild marjoram or oregano [Origanum vulgare]
  • Flat-leaved parsley [Petroselinum crispum]
  • Rose [Rosa species]
  • Rosemary [Rosmarinus officinalis]
  • Rue (Ruta graveolens)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Common Tansey
  • Thyme [Thymus species]
  • Red Valerian
  • Violet [Viola odorata]
  • Winter Savory

Old World foods (fruit)

  • apples
  • blackberry
  • blueberry
  • Cherry
  • citron
  • Cranberries (circumpolar, specific varieties)
  • Currant
  • date
  • elderberry
  • fig
  • gooseberry
  • grape
  • lemon
  • lime
  • melons (only post 1400 for the red varieties, the earlier you go, the more yellow, drier and more bitter, until in Ancient Greece and Rome rinds were put on people as a febrifuge, not fed to them! )
  • orange
  • peach
  • pear
  • plum
  • pomegranate
  • quince
  • strawberry

Old World foods (grain, pulse)

  • Acorn
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
  • Emmer wheat
  • fava beans (Faba vulgaris)
  • garbanzo beans
  • Lentils (Lens esculenta puyensis)
  • Le Puy green lentil (2000 years old)
  • millet
  • oats
  • Green pea (Pisum sativum)
  • White pea (Pisum sativum)
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Wheat

Old World foods (meat)

  • beef
  • chicken
  • dairy
  • duck
  • eggs
  • elk
  • goat
  • goose
  • grouse
  • heron (nasty….)
  • many types of fish (salmon, carp)
  • mutton or lamb
  • peacock (ick)
  • pheasant
  • Pork, ham, bacon
  • rabbit/coney
  • venison

Old World foods (nuts)

Old World foods (vegetables)

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Beet (I need more research on this….)
  • White beet (Beta vulgaris)
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cardoon
  • Carrot (Daucus carota)
  • Cauliflower/cole wort (Brassica oleracea)
  • Heart cabbage (Brassica oleracea)Cucumber
  • Roman cabbage (Brassica oleracea)
  • White/headed cabbage (Brassica oleracea)
  • Celery
  • Endive
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Gourd
  • Kale (Brassica oleracea)
  • Leek (Allium porrum)
  • Lettuce (leaf lettuce, Iceberg is not period)
  • Mushroom
  • Olive
  • Onion (Allium cepa)
  • Orpine
  • Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)
  • Radish (Raphanus sativus)
  • Green pea (Pisum sativum) the same as field peas, but picked green.
  • Plain coles/rape (Brassica napus)
  • Samphire
  • Sea Holly
  • Shallot (Allium cepa)
  • Skirret
  • Garden Sorrel
  • French Sorrel
  • Thistle
  • Milk Thistle
  • Turnip/neeps (Brassica rapa)
  • Yam

Only very, very late period (New World foods)

  • Chili and other red/capsicum peppers (but then mostly in Portugal, India and their trading partners) This includes curry mixes.
  • Snow pea (Pisum sativum var. saccharatum,) mangetout, introduced to France from Holland right around 1600, these were a very expensive, luxury item even a century later.
  • peppers
  • Potatoes (except for white potato jam, or roasted/broiled with oil and spice) In Spain.
  • Tomatoes (cooked or large varieties) In Spain ,tomatoes were cooked into a sauce with vinegar and oil
  • Turkeys (except very late period, yes Henry VII ate ’em…. but that doesn’t excuse turkey legs!)
  • Cacao beans…. 1597, ok….. That does not mean chocolate, that doesn’t even mean hot chocolate or hot cocoa the way we think of it, but right there….

Don’t Bring (New World foods)

  • Agave
  • Avocado
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Chocolate (see above)
  • Corn (maize)
  • Green beans
  • Huckleberry
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Jalapenos
  • Jicama
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Manioc
  • Maple Syrup (more research needs to be done on other tree syrups)
  • Most beans
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Quinoa
  • Wild “rice”
  • Squash (winter and summer varieties, there was only one in most of Europe, immature calabash gourds! )
  • Sunflowers
  • Sweet potatoes (but….yams….and most folks can’t tell the difference)
  • Tapioca
  • Vanilla
  • Ycca

Totally modern

  • Chemical leavening agents (baking soda/powder, etc.)
  • Industrially-processed foods
  • Sugar beets
  • Super-sweet seedless melons of various kinds

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Page Created & published 3/7/17 (C)M. Bartlett
Last updated 5/28/17