For those of you who may know me know that one goal I've had for several years is to go to an SCA war, with none of my food provisions needing to be kept cold. Gulf Wars 27 (year: 2018) was my first attempt at doing so.
For little over a week, I had the following food to make use of:
-3 quarts apple-kraut
-2 quarts pickled asparagus
-2 quarts pickled chicken
-16 oz of rillettes (a pork/lard spread)
-16 oz balsamic mustard
~5 pounds various sausages
~1 pound bresaola
-4 quart jars of dried apples with ginger
-2~3 pounds of salt pork
-2 pounds hardtack
-Various raw ingredients (rice, oats, spices, etc.)
A generous list of food, to be sure. One thing to note is the majority of the items are savory in nature. While not an issue, per se, it was something that I noticed as the event went on.
How It All Went
While I did cheat from time to time (seriously, anyone who has eaten at the Gode Bakery knows it's hard to resist.) A majority of the food I ate did come from my personal stockpile.
I often carried some dried apples, a few portions of hardtack, and a spread or two for said hardtack. These would often tide me over until I ate a more substantial meal. Most notable was the lentil stew I made as part of a class on cooking in clay pots.
This stew made use of the salt pork that I had prepared, and was shared with those taking the class, to the joy of many. The salt pork was also eaten "raw" from time to time. This provided a good boost of protein, as well as some additional salt, which was mostly absent from the other foods I carried on my person.
Another preserved good that I made ample use of was sausage, particularly a salted beef sausage with egg yolk. This sausage was one that I had made nearly a year ago for a different event, but didn't eat at that time. Much like the salt pork, this was eaten raw when carried with me. This sausage was also part of an Arts and Sciences display at Gulf Wars, meaning I was able to share my work with others.
The other sausages I had prepared weren't eaten so ravenously, so they remain packed in salt, ready for Lilies War in June.
Tasty, Tasty Apples
The last noteworthy foodstuff are the apples I had dried. Simply, they are Pink Lady apples, cut into wedges, tossed with some balsamic vinegar, and dusted with dried ginger. After that, they were thrown into a food dehydrator for a few days. This turned out far better than I had expected, having a solid "crunch", similar to freeze-dried food, rather than the tough, pliable bite of commercial dried apples. These didn't last long.
I was out of what I thought was all of my apples within just a few days. Much to my joy, I had found the other half of my apple supply after unpacking upon returning home.
Looking back, trying to go nearly a week and a half without using any sort of refrigeration to keep my food wasn't too much of a challenge. The most difficult part was before the event, trying to figure out what foods to make, what meals those would be a part of, and making the food itself.
Going forward, I plan to continue this at the various SCA wars that I attend. It was a fun experiment, and one I hope more people try with their own food. To those that want to, I'm always happy to share my knowledge and experience. While the thought of various preserved foods can be a terrifying thing, medieval food preservation is safer than many think.