We’re pretty used to our modern kitchen conveniences, including our stoves and ovens. But somehow people from the Anglo-Saxon and medieval period managed to make a wide array of dishes and baked goods without them. How did they do it?
Managing your fuel supply was a key element. Cutting and gathering wood was a summer task, though it might not be split until winter. How much wood was needed throughout the year for cooking and heat depended on how large your household was. A wealthy household or lord would have access to wooded areas that peasants were not allowed to touch.
For cooking, a variety of woods were used. Charcoal analyzed from the Anglo-Saxon period identifies oak, poplar, willow, and hawthorn. In areas where wood was not readily available, charcoal, peat, straw, or reeds could also be used. However, because reeds and straw burn very hot, and very fast, they could only be used for baking, not roasting.