Guide: Modern foods unavailable in 14th Century Britain

Following on from our camp cooking guide, here is a list of common modern foods which were unavailable in fourteenth-century Britain. This list is by no means comprehensive, but is intended to cover most of the basics.


New World
Many staples of today’s diet originated in the New World, and were therefore unknown in medieval Britain before at least the fifteenth century. Even after exploration of the New World, these foods were often not commonplace or affordable to the average household for many years afterwards. Therefore, when cooking for the 14th Century, steer clear of:


  • Maize (sweetcorn)
  • Quinoa

Fruit and Veg:

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Pineapples
  • Yams
  • Peppers (the vegetable not the spice)
  • Squashes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Avocados
  • Pumpkins


  • French/green beans
  • Lima/sieva/butter beans
  • Runner beans
  • Cache/polyanthus beans


  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashew nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans


  • Turkey
  • Cocoa
  • Vanilla

Old World but unavailable in Medieval Britain
These were known in the Old World (with coffee especially popular in Arabia), but were not commonplace in medieval Britain until much later.

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli

Not yet bred or invented

  • Sugar peas/mangetout (first bred in the 16th century)
  • Split peas (an invention of the 19th century – although these are fine if added to soups as they look quite like un-shelled, un-split peas once cooked)

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