Beacon's Gate Boar Hunt 2000

Compost - Medieval "chutney"

English, Forme of Curye, late 14th c.


Forme of Cury 103

Original Recipe

Take rote of parsel, of pasternak, of rafens, scrape hem and waische hem clene. Take rapes & caboches, ypared and icorue. Take an erthen panne with clene water & set it on the fire; cast all (th)ise (th)erinne. When (th)ey buth boiled cast (th)erto peeres, & perboile hem wel. Take alle (th)ise thynges vp & lat it kele on a faire cloth. Do (th)erto salt; whan it is colde, do hit in a vessel; take vinegar & powdour & safroun & and do (th)erto, & lat alle (th)ise thynges lye (th)erin al ny(gh)t, o(th)er al day. Take wyne greke & honey, clarified togider; take lumbarde mustard & raisouns coraunce, al hoole, & grynde powdour of canel, powdour douce, anys hole, & fenell seed. Take alle (th)ise thynges & castt togyder in a pot of erthe, & take (th)erof whan (th)ou wilt & serue forth.

My Modern Transcription
Take root of parsley, of parsnip, of radishes, scrape them and wash them clean. Take white turnips & cabbages, pared and cored. Take a ceramic pan with clean water & set it on the fire; cast all these therein. When they have boiled cast thereto pears, & parboil them well. Take all these things up & let it cool on a clean cloth. Do thereto salt; when it is cold, put it in a vessel; take vinegar & [spice] powder & saffron & and do thereto, & let all these things lie therein all night, or all day. Take Greek wine [i.e., sweet white wine, NOT retsina] & honey, clarified together; take lumbarde mustard & raisins of corinth [i.e., dried currants], all whole, & grind powder of cinnamon, powder douce, whole anise, & fennel seed. Take all these things & cast together in a ceramic pot, & take thereof when thou wilt & serve forth.


recipe by Anahita

I. A week before beginning preparation of Compost, prepare Lombard Mustard as follows:

Lumbarde mustard
2 oz. mustard powder (a bit over 1/2 c.)
1/4 cup honey
3 TB dry white wine
1 TB cider or white wine vinegar

Mix honey, wine, and vinegar. Warm to liquify. Stir into mustard. Let age at least one week.

  1. I was a bad girl and made mine the day i began preparing the Compost. I only let it age until i needed to add it to the recipe, about 2 days. It was quite "hot", but in the end blended in quite well with all the other seasonings.
  2. It's really easy to make, but if you want to substitute, you could try Dijon with honey added or a good quality honey-mustard.

II. At least one week before using, begin preparation of Compost:

9 parsley roots, peeled and diced
2-1/2 lb parsnips, peeled and diced
2-1/2 lb carrots, peeled and diced
5 small black radishes, peeled and diced
2-1/2 lb turnips, peeled and diced
2-1/2 lb green cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
2-1/2 lb winter pears, peeled, cored and chopped

Place parsley root, parsnips, carrots, radishes, turnips, and cabbage in a pot. Barely cover with water. Bring to a boil. Add pears. Reduce heat to medium and cook until pears are barely tender. Drain, place in colanders, sprinkling with a substantial amount of salt and leave until cold, in a place where excess water can drain off, such as the sink sideboard.

NOTE: I used both carrots and parsnips, rather than all parsnips, because carrots are generally cheaper than parsnips. I included parsnips for flavor. My understanding is that the two were used interchangeably in Medieval recipes (but i'm trying to verify this) and early carrots were pretty much the same color as parsnips.

III. When vegetables are cool:

2 quarts cider vinegar
1 tsp saffron

Spice Powder:
1 cup sugar
1 TB ground cloves
2 TB ground ginger
1 TB ground cinnamon

Put cooled vegetable mixture in earthenware pot. Mix vinegar, saffron and spice powder, and add to vegetables. Let sit in a cool place for 12 hours.

NOTE: As i didn't have an earthenware crock large enough, i put the vegetables and spices into two one-gallon glass jars with screw lids.

IV. Twelve hours later:

1 bottle sweet white wine
2 cups honey

1 lb dried Zante currants (i.e., raisins of Corinth/coraunce)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp aniseed
1 tsp fennel seed

Powder Douce:
1 cup sugar
1 TB ground cubebs
1 TB grains of Paradise, ground
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp groung galingal
1 tsp ground cloves

Bring wine and honey to a boil, removing the scum as needed and remove from heat. Add Lumbarde mustard, raisins of coraunce, cinnamon, anise, fennel, and poudre douce to the wine-honey mixture, stirring well to make sure that the sugar is dissolved. Then add this spiced honey wine to the vegetable-pear mixture and blend carefully.

  1. I used an inexpensive Califoria Chardonnay that was actually quite drinkable, although it may not have been as sweet as the wine originally used.
  2. Since i used a clean honey, i didn't bother to remove the "scum". If using a grade of honey less than a B, you may well need to skim to remove "stuff".
  3. To make sure that the "sauce" was evenly distributed in the vegetable-pear mix, i took the vegetables out of the glass jars and divided them into two kettles, then poured equal amounts of honey-wine over them, then returned them to the glass jars, screwing the lids on well.

V. Store well-covered in a cool dark place for at least one week.

NOTE: I didn't have an earthenware crock big enough, so i used two one-gallon glass jars.

VI. Serve with meats like a chutney or pickle. It may also be pureed and used as a sauce with meats.

NOTE: Most of this was consumed at the feast - maybe a quart or quart and a half was left over.

There are other variant recipes.

The one in Le Menagier de Paris is a much more complex preparation begun about 6 months before intended use, beginning in early summer with young walnuts before their shells have formed.

Das Buch Von Guter Speise has a simpler sauce, and Apicius has an early and even simpler one, not called Compost, of course.

Also, i've been told that a variant can be found in the 13th century Northern European cookbook known as The Icelandic Medical Miscellany, but i haven't seen this one.

Master Adamantius said: "This stuff keeps for a long time, especially if you put it, while hot, into a sterile canning jar. I have a couple of jars of compost that are around two years old, and the one I opened last week was just fine."

Questions? Comments?

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Code refined 05 May 2004