Running a household in the Viking era

by Trine Theut

The everyday life of the Viking family, every day, year in and year out, was a struggle to maintain life: to provide for a roof over everyone's head, to stay warm and to prepare food. During much of the year it was easy to get the food; but it takes a long time to prepare it, and one must think ahead and gather, dry it and put it away for the long winter.

Bake your own Flatbread/Shardbread
Make your own porridge
Meat and fish soups
The use of a kettle over an open fire
Tools and kitchen utensils

Make your own Viking food


The basic recipe is, per person one cup of kernels and two cups of liquid (water and/or milk). One must count on having to add more liquid because of evaporation when the porridge cooks over an open fire without a cover. Any pressed and crushed kernels can be used, the most coarse should soak overnight otherwise they will have to be cooked too long.

Meat and fish soup

It is, of course, not intended for all of the previously mentioned vegetables to be included in the same soup. Be inspired by the many available books on edible plants and use whatever you find in the vicinity. Always be certain that you know the plants and put only edible plants in your basket.

Flatbread/Shardbread (Shortbread)

[Lefse]If you have butchered a hen you can use the yolks in the dough. The bread is called shard bread because it is baked on a shard of pottery; but if one has a large household it can also be baked on an iron skillet about 10-15 cm over the coals.

Hot, nutritious drinks

A delicious apple drink

bulletApple bits
bulletApple leaves
  1. Fill a jar with water, small pieces of apple (with peel) and apple leaves.
  2. The drink should simmer on the fire; when it reaches the boiling point sweeten it with honey.
  3. Serve hot..

The apples can be replaced with pears. Berries are also quite delicious in this drink - try different mixes of fruits as desired.

Herbal drink

Herbal drinks can be made with many different plants. The drink is prepared by putting the leaf or flower in boiling water and letting it cook for a few minutes

Good drinks can be gotten from the young leaves of
bulletStinging nettles

... and the flowers of:

Remember: Be sure that the plants you use are edible!

From the book  I LÆRE SOM VIKING   by Trine Theut,.  Illustrations by the author. Published in 1994 by Trine Theut and OP-Forlag, Aps, Denmark.  ISBN 87-7794-248-5

English version by Steven Mohn


More about food

bulletComplete listing
Bake your own Flatbread/Shardbread
Fladbrød / skårbrød
Husholdning i vikingetiden
Hva innbyggerne i Jorvik hadde å spise og drikke
Make your own porridge
Meat and fish soups
Preparing for a sea voyage
Redskaber/ husgeråd
The use of a kettle over an open fire
Tools and kitchen utensils
Vikingemad, Baggrundsoplysnlnger og tekniske detaljer
Vikingenes kødsuppe og fiskesuppe
Viklngefamilens grød
What people ate and drank in Jorvik
- 14. august 2004 -