A Viking feast

An abundance of foods

Only the richest of Vikings feasted on occassions like Solstice and harvest.

The chieftain's table would have been set with a linen cloth, funnel shaped glass beakers, wooden plates, knives and spoons. The guests joining him at the table would have indulged in imported wine and spices, white bread baked with wheat and other selected foods served on wooden dishes. 

The meat used for roasts and soups was from a newly slaughtered animal. No feast without plenty of everything: Meat, drink and entertainment for many days. Abundance was the key word.


Fresh milk was not available all year round which is why the Vikings made butter and cheese to store. Pieces of a Viking Age churn has been found in Hedeby, which suggests they would have had a large quantity of cream to process.

A small quantity of cream can be whisked into butter in an earthenware pot. The warm, slightly sour cream is whisked with the means of 4-5 barked willow twigs until it separates in butter and buttermilk. Drain the buttermilk and rinse the lump of butter in cold water to remove any remnants of milk solids. Next, the butter must be worked well to avoid bubbles and at the end a pinch of salt is added. By removing the milk remnants and the air bubbles the butter won't go rancid.

Eggs in mustard sauce

Wheat flour

Boil the eggs till hard-boiled, about 15 minutes. Place them in cold water and, next, shell the eggs.

Make a sauce of butter, flour and milk and season with mustard and salt. Add the eggs. Sprinkle with cress and serve with rye bread.

Solæg (Eggs in brine)


Boil the eggs at least 25 minutes. This will give the yolks a green edge. Roll the eggs to slightly crack the shells. Make a brine of water and salt - about 5 tablespoons for each jug of water. Place the eggs in the brine and leave to rest for at least a week.

Shell the eggs and lengthwise cut them in two halves. Carefully lift the yolk and put a little mustard into the hole. Then put back the yolk. Do this with all the eggs.

Each egg-half is eaten in one mouthful. Goes really well with a mug of beer.

Keeping poultry was introduced around 100 AD and it made collecting eggs for cooking easy. Whenever the chickens laid many eggs, the eggs would be preserved for later use.  


Mustard seeds

Pound the mustard seeds in a mortar and place them in a small eartenware pot. Add a little whey, some honey and salt and mix. A good mustard should be fairly hot.

Mustard was introduced in Denmark in the 700's AD.

When mixing the mustard seeds with a fluid, the seeds turn into a strong tasting mustard oil. For centuries, hot spices have been used to intensify flavours and for medical use. Mustard is both an excellent anti-scorbutic and aphrodisiac.

Pea soup with bacon

250 gram split peas (or field peas)
1 jug water
1 piece of smoked pork
1 jug water
2 parsnips
2 parsley roots
3-4 carrots
3 onions
Some celery root

Soak the peas in water overnight. Drain and boil the peas in fresh water until tender.

Place the pork in a pot and add water, enough to cover the meat. Boil until well done. Then remove the meat and set to one side.

Dice the different vegetables into small pieces and add these to the boiling water. Mix in the peas as well. Leave to simmer until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and mustard.

Serve the soup with sliced pork, homemade mustard and rye bread.

Walnut bread

2 cups water
A little brewer's yeast 
1 cup kop sourdough
0,5 kilogram wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 handful walnuts

Day 1:
Mix cold water, brewer's yeast and sourdough in a bowl. Add wheat flour and salt and knead well. Now add the walnuts and leave the dough to rise until the next day.

Day 2: 
Place the dough in a soapstone pot, which has been sprinkled with flour. Cover and leave to rise for about 2 hours. Turn the pot upside down and put live coals over the bottom of the pot. Let the bread bake this way for approx. 2 hours.

The white, light wheat loaf wasn't that common in the Viking Age. The relatively high contents of protein/gluten in wheat gave soft, airy bread loaves even with sourdough as the sole raising agent.   

Walnuts have been found in Viking Age excavations in Oseberg and Hedeby. However, it's unlikely that walnuts have been grown there. They were imported goods and possibly quite rare and expensive. In other words, an ingredient reserved for the rich people. 

Buttermilk cheese

The buttermilk we were left with from the buttermaking is excellent for making a soft, fresh cheese.

Put 1 jug of buttermilk in an earthenware pot and place the pot close the the fire. Turn the pot frequently to prevent the buttermilk from burning. Don't stir the buttermilk!

After a while the buttermilk will begin to separate into cheese and a clear whey. Transfer the cheese to a linen cloth which is tied over a pot. This way the cheese will be drained completely. Add a little salt and chopped herbs to your liking.

Salted oxtongue with horse radish

2 jugs water
0,5 kilogram salt
3/4 cup honey

First, place the oxtongue in a pot and cover with water. Add plenty of chopped onion, bring to boiling point and simmer for about 1 hour until the tongue is tender and you can remove the skin.

In the meantime you can make the honey-salt-brine. Add salt and honey to boiling water and let it dissolve. Leave the brine to cool completely. When you have taken off the skin of the oxtongue, place the tongue in the brine.

It must be completely covered in the brine. Place a wooden board on top to hold the tongue down in the brine. Leave it to rest for 3-4 days depending on size. 

To eat, slice the tongue not too thinly. Serve with rye bread and shredded horse radish.

The chieftain's soup

Shoulder of lamb, diced
Smoked pork, diced 
5 chopped onions
5 chopped garlic cloves
Diced parsnips
Diced parsley roots
Chopped Angelica stems 
Spring onions
2 cups cream

Dice the smoked pork and brown it in the cooking pot over the fire. Add the diced lamb, chopped onions and garlic. Next, add the water, parsnips and parsley roots.

Mix in the horsebeans, mushrooms and Angelica stems. Leave to simmer over low heat. Stir frequently and add more water if necessary. When the meat is tender, it's time to season with salt and cream.

Sprinkle with chopped spring onions and serve with bread.

1 jug = 1 liter approx.
1 cup = 150 ml approx.

Ribe VikingeCenter's 2012 project 'Nordic food is Viking food' is supported by Region Syddanmark.