how wrong is our pot?!

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kate/bob
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how wrong is our pot?!

Postby kate/bob » Mon May 03, 2010 3:56 pm

I've been doing a bit of research about cooking pots cause it dawned on me that I had no idea how authenic ours is and haven't managed to find much on metal ones. I've looked on the fabulous Karen Larsdatter's site and there are a few but it's difficult to see the detail.

So my question is, "how bad is our pot?". Does anyone think that we need to rush out immediately and buy a new one? Will it do, but could be better? Should we leave it at home and only bring the pottery one? Answers on a postcard please......
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pot2.jpg
pot.jpg



guthrie
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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby guthrie » Mon May 03, 2010 4:09 pm

Wellll now. It has a detachable handle, two side handles and three feet, so from a verbal description it isn't bad. Certainly better than a lot of other pots out there. Certainly ceramics were used to cook in rather a lot, but by the 5th century most moderately well off households had some sort of metal pot.
The problem of course is that it is iron, and doesn't have the right pot bellied shape to it.
Also I'm pretty sure you do 15th century, all my answers are predicated upon that.
What you really want is something that looks more like this:
http://www.downcountymuseum.com/template.aspx?pid=153&area=12&textsize=2
Although shapes varied somewhat throughout the medieval period and afterwards. Bronze cooking pots became more widespread around the later 13th century onwards, with mass production in the 5th/16th centuries and a decline thereafter.
The alloy used in the medieval period usually involved around 4% tin, 5% antimony (from the copper which came from antimony rich deposits in Europe) and around 10% lead. More than 10% tin would lead to it being too rigid, and so it oculd break more easily if dropped.



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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby guthrie » Mon May 03, 2010 4:11 pm

So basically if you are really concerned about authenticity, don't take it anywhere or use it only after the public have gone. On the other hand at least it has some approximation of the features of a real cauldron of the time, and you can always explain that you can't afford the several hundred pounds required to buy a bronze one. And they were that sort of expensive back in medieval times as well, if not worse.



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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby the real lord duvet » Mon May 03, 2010 6:45 pm

can't tell, you've got no light or water system to get nutrients to the plants though.

As far as the metal thing goes. It looks different than a pokipot. What does the food in it taste like?



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Alan E
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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby Alan E » Tue May 04, 2010 10:01 am

Of course Guthrie's picture is not the only possible shape (standardisation wasn't our forebear's thing really); see Karen's update to this thread viewtopic.php?f=20&t=20684&view=unread#unread for alternative shapes, some nearer the shape of your pot.


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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby guthrie » Tue May 04, 2010 12:46 pm




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Fox
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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby Fox » Tue May 04, 2010 2:20 pm

If I recall, pots in the shape shown were more likely to be beaten rather than cast.

Dave B will, no doubt, correct me if I have that wrong.



kate/bob
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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby kate/bob » Fri May 07, 2010 3:00 pm

The concensus seems to be that it's not right, but it's not as wrong as it could be.

So, as I can't waive a wand and make the pot bronze, where could I get such a thing? Would we need to sell mini-moose to afford a bronze pot or only one of our kidneys?!



guthrie
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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby guthrie » Fri May 07, 2010 8:36 pm

Iron dwarf was allegedly going to try and hammer a copper cauldron into shape. Historic castings http://www.historiccastings.co.uk/ do stuff but your looking at something like 3 or 400£. So yo could probably buy 4 or 5 for one of your kidneys.



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Karen Larsdatter
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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby Karen Larsdatter » Sun May 09, 2010 3:54 pm

It's a bit more flat-sided than what we see in pots like this, I think -- several links at http://www.larsdatter.com/cooks.htm will help you, and moreso at http://www.larsdatter.com/cauldrons.htm (though I think that one needs updating).

We do tend to see more roundness in the profile, rather than the flat sides and bottom. From a quick look-through at http://www.larsdatter.com/cooks.htm it looks like this style of pot would have been more likely to have been suspended over a fire, but there are certainly functions at http://www.larsdatter.com/cauldrons.htm which seem to use flatter-sided pots like this -- a few of the cheesemakers at http://www.larsdatter.com/cheese.htm seem to be using flatter-sided pots, for example.



Edited to add: Check out this page from The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi: L'arte et prudenza d'un maestro Cuoco:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bibliodyssey/3353827202



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Fox
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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby Fox » Mon May 10, 2010 12:34 pm

By co-incidence, I was looking through some 14thC inventories, both for Yeomen, merchants and bottom end gentlemen; so people of similar, middling wealth.

Lots of references to brass pots/cauldrens; but in these instances there were no references to iron ones.



kate/bob
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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby kate/bob » Wed May 12, 2010 9:25 am

I've had a look at historic castings and their pots are things of beauty. The thing that slightly puts me off is that you sell your child to buy one and then look at the small print that says don't eat anything cooked in this pot!

Thanks for all your input. I think we'll keep our pot. Even though it's not made out of the right metal I'm happier now that the shape is ok.Maybe bring the pottery one out a little more often.



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Fox
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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby Fox » Wed May 12, 2010 9:38 am

I spoke to Ron at Historic Castings about this.

Please be aware that cast bronze, although more authentic, represents a real health risk if you are going to eat the food cooked (rather than simply demonstrating).
The bronze contains up to 5% lead and the copper content can produce verdegris, which is a poison. It must therefore be used with caution, and we are required by Trading Standards to promote the bronze products "for display ONLY. NOT suitable for food use".


Saying that, the Tudor Company and the kitchens at Hampton Court Palace, amongst others, use these bronze cauldrons all the time, they just have to be scrupulous with the care and cleanliness.

But for most cooking, pottery is really the way to go, and cheaper than the other alternatives too.



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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby guthrie » Wed May 12, 2010 10:56 am

You can tin the inside as well, see innumerable mentions on various threads about it. I've got all the stuff to do tinning, just never managed to find time to do it.

If he's using leaded bronze that makes it more authentic, but also a little trickier to use. But you just need to keep it clean and you'll be fine. If I had proper access to an ICP and some bronze cauldrons we could do some comparative analysis and see how much really leaches into the food. Obviously letting verdigris form and cooking acidic foods in the cauldron will cause problems, but we can manage those risks pretty well and therefore a couple of meals exposure at a few weekends is very unlikely to cause any long term problems.



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Re: how wrong is our pot?!

Postby Sophia » Wed May 12, 2010 8:24 pm

The important thing that I was taught in the the Great Kitchen at Kentwell which also uses some Historic Castings pots is to ensure that they are absolutely clean (i.e. clean before use it have not been used for a week or more), avoid cooking very acid things and to not let food stand in them. IIRC Hampton Court peeps recommend rubbing the inside with a cut lemon after cleaning.

The same can be said for cast iron pots which must be very well seasoned and regularly used to not discolour your food. This is why I ended up starting with pots as I hated the way the food dulled in my not entirely accurate cauldron and it was difficult to clean properly on site. Pot is much better and if you wrap them in one or two layers of hessian and pack them carefully they are not difficult to transport (that's unless you are me and end up with 3 large crates for Medieaval and a 3 large crates for Tudor). In fact cooking pots are easier to transport than cups or jugs in my experience - touching wood, I have not broken one yet.


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