Stone Age Recipes
From the Paelolithic to the Neolithic!
This must rank as one of my favourite time periods of history (also the longest spanning 3 million years!) Here you can find some of my favourite Stone Age recipes that I have enjoyed cooking in schools and at home. For me the sheer simplicity of some of these techniques shows us how our forebears were able cook and enjoy the food they hunted, gathered and eventually grew.
Please note, as there were no written records, much of what I am sharing here is based on archaeological evidence and techniques that would have been available at the time. As I have mentioned, I do not claim to be 100% historically accurate, but here you will find a whole host of Stone Age recipes that I have devised to make learning fun and accessible for children at school and home. Click here to find out more.
Hung fish (Fish on Sticks!)
Here we have quite possibly my most popular Stone age recipe cooked in a number of schools (at least with my eldest!) Fish on sticks as she called it uses one of the most simplest methods of cooking fish over fire. This technique will keep the fish tender, while imparting a hot smoked flavour. Please note green wood (freshly cut) must be used and the bark stripped at least to the point where it will come into contact with the body.
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 medium size round fish (1-2lb Trout, Mackerel or Sea Bass are ideal) gutted but with heads on
A handful of Sea Salt
A drizzle of honey
4 green wood sticks about 1-2cm in diameter (Not Yew, Pine or other evergreen trees as these may contain toxins which will taint the fish.)
A handful of fresh mixed herbs, sage, thyme, rosemary or whatever is available.
- First of all prepare a medium sized fire with at least 3 large logs at the heart.
- Next ensure that the sticks are prepared for cooking, along with the ground where they are to hang. This means stripping off any excess bark and shaving points at both ends to pierce the fish and the ground. If the surface is to hard then the sticks mat have to be propped up by rocks or bricks (see pic.).
- After that, prepare the fish mix the salt, honey and herbs in a bowl and then rub into the inside of the fish.
- Next, open each fish’s mouth and carefully insert the stick, passing through the stomach cavity (open and gutted) and then pierce the tail end, where the fish should then be secure.
- Once the fire has established, place the sticks in the ground and hang the fish carefully over the fire with their backs and heads facing towards the fire at a 60 degree angle.
- Depending on the size of the fish and conditions they should take about 20-30 minutes to cook altogether, you may need to move the fish however if it is a windy day to allow both sides to be cooked.
- The fish is ready to eat and enjoy once the skin begins to clearly peel off, if so remove from the fire and allow to cool for a minute before enjoying!
Farming was perhaps above all the biggest evolutionary leap taken by our forebears thousands of years ago. The ability to grow, store and bake grains meant that our ancestors had access to carbohydrate-rich foodstuffs all year round. These Bannocks are a type of biscuit made using Beremeal, a type of Barley found on Orkney, the home of so many neolithic sites including the incredible Skara Brae. This grain is still grown and milled on Orkney by the good folk at Barony Mill, and there are many recipes besides many other tasty ideas for this grain. Here is mine, nevertheless using ingredients and techniques available during Neolithic times.
Ingredients (makes about 10)
50g butter or lard
A pinch of salt
Enough water to form a dough (about 100ml)
1. Firstly, ensure that some fairly large igneous rocks (granite is ideal) are place in the heart of a hot fire for at least an hour beforehand to heat up. With this in mind you will need to maintain the heat throughout.
2. Once the fire is lit, begin by rubbing the butter or lard in with the Beremeal.
3. Thereafter you will need to add the salt and honey if using and mix together.
4. Subsequently add the water and mix until it forms a dough like texture.
5. Separate the dough into about 20 pieces and roll into balls.
6. Flatten each ball between the palms of your hands and roll again.
7. Prepare the stones for cooking, this may involve raking them out of the fire and blowing away any ash on the surface.
8. Press down on each ball of dough to form a round flat disc about 5mm thick.
9. Place each Bannock on the heated stones and allow to cook, they should take 3-5 minutes each side, depending on the heat and conditions!
10. Allow to cool and enjoy!
The early Stone-Age civilisations were predominantly hunter-gatherers, and as populations grew and with it demand for nutrient-rich meat it was likely that as humans we were responsible for the extinctions of some magnificent creatures that roamed the British Isles including the Megaloceros (Irish Elk), a huge deer that stood over 2m at the shoulder. Meat was an important part of the Stone-Age diet and while fresh cuts could be eaten raw, particularly the offal, as the meat aged it would need to be cooked to allow it to be digested. In Kent, we have an abundance of deer in our woodlands, and by cooking this delicious, sustainable meat over fire we really can eat like our ancestors!
Ingredients (Serves 4)
8 skewers (metal is more hygienic and will not burn!)
1. First of all, begin by preparing a hot fire capable of producing a good bed of embers. Silver birch is ideal, but otherwise split large logs into 3 or 4 smaller pieces safely using an axe.
2. Secondly, fashion a grill using bricks or large rocks near the fire and make level if possible.
3. Now prepare the skewers. Using a sharp knife, dice the meat into smaller pieces, now bigger than an 2-3cm in size then carefully fixe 5 or 6 pieces meat along each skewer. Set aside, and cover if necessary.
4. Once the fire has established, rake an even bed of embers between the bricks or rocks and accordingly heat them up with a blowpipe or by fanning with plate or chopping board.
5.Place the skewers over the fire, and using gloves turn every 60 seconds or so.
6. Depending on the heat of the fire and thickness of meat, the skewers should be cooked after 5-10 minute, non Stone-Age digital meat probes can be used for doneness, although Venison like Beef and Lamb can be cooked slightly rare.
7. Finally, allow to cool and rest then enjoy!
More Stone Age recipes to follow….
Event Brogdale Cooking WorkshopTime & Location 7th,8th,28th,29th August 10:00 – 15:00 Faversham, Brogdale Farm House, Brogdale Rd, Faversham ME13 8XZ, UK Once again I am delighted to be working with Brogdale Collections for four very special cooking...
EventTime & Location 9th April 2024, 10:00 – 13.30 (approx.) Belmont,Belmont Park, Throwley,Faversham, Kent,ME13 0HH Once again I am absolutely delighted to be working with Belmont House and Gardens in 2024 for some very special kitchen garden workshops...