A question arose tonight about Viking Age needle cases and metal needles that sent me searching for answers. I had lots of images of bone needles and a couple of bone needle cases, but no metal needles. After a bit of searching, I came across The Reverend’s Big Blog of Leather here on WordPress. It isn’t quite a perfect match with my interests, but he has been doing skeletal materials research and that is worth noting. I really enjoyed his post about the skeletal materials at the National Museum of Scotland, which has lovely photos of things I have only seen as drawings, and two photos with metal needles and bone needle cases that fit into the Viking Age. The Reverend’s Big Blog of Leather



Back in early August, I tried my hand at making pastirma, the Turkish dried meat. I dutifully took it down when it was sufficiently dried, stuck it in the refrigerator, and pretty much forgot about it. Tonight I finally remembered to take a photo, and I had a bunch for supper. It is delicious. I like the fenugreek flavour a lot – I’m sure it will be even better now that I know to soak the seeds before trying to grind them!



Horse hair fishing net

I tried doing this years ago. I couldn’t find decent instructions. I did make myself some bobbin-type things to help, but it wasn’t a great success. These instructions, with much clearer guidance on how to add in hew hairs, make much more sense. Time for more experimentation! https://www.lostwitandwisdom.com/how-to-make-a-horse-hair-fish-line/

Thomas de Courcy (https://www.bakerspeel.com) asked a question about documentation for pastirma before 1600. Of course, that sent me down today’s research rabbit hole.

Wikipedia had some interesting links that focused on etymology but no actual recipes.  According to Wikipedia, “the word pastırma comes from the Turkish verb bastırmak which means “to press”. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink writes that pastırma is the word Ottomans used for a type of Byzantine cured beef that was called pastonThe Oxford Companion for Food says that a Byzantine dried meat delicacy was “a forerunner of the pastirma of modern Turkey”. According to Johannes Koder, an expert in Byzantine studies, paston could mean either salted meat or salted fish.

Other scholars have given different accounts of the historical origins of the Ottoman pastırma. The armies of settled, agricultural peoples had cereal based diet, and some Turkish and Bulgarian scholars have written that certain medieval fighters who kept dried and salted meat under their saddles had an edge over opponents who ate mostly cereals. Ammianus Marcellinus wrote that the Huns warmed this meat by placing it between their legs or on the backs of their horses.  Pastırma is mentioned in 11th C scholar Mahmud of Kashgars Diwan Lughat al-Turk and 17th C explorer Evliya Çelebis Seyahatname.”

Wikipedia also notes that “the word pastrami may be a Yiddish construction that combined salami with pastırma or one of the similar linguistic variations of the word (pastram in Romanian, pastromá in Russian and basturma in Armenian).”

Henry Marks, in Byzantine Cuisine, wrote about apoctia, which is pieces of meat prepared by removing them from the bone, covering them with salt and placing them in the sun. His source was a Greek author (Koukoule), who said that the original information comes from Geoponika. Unfortunately, my edition of Geoponika does not seem to include that information.

Andrew Dalby, in Flavours of Byzantium (p. 71) says that apokti, dried cured meat, is mentioned in the Book of Ceremonies of Constantine Porphyrogennetos. The modern recipe from the same book (p. 171) is a traditional one from Santorini. It uses pork loin that is trimmed, salted for a day, then steeped in vinegar for three days. Then it is removed from the vinegar, patted dry and rubbed with cinnamon and left for five or six hours. Then it is rubbed with ground black pepper, dried savory, and more cinnamon and hung to dry for several weeks.

In a different document (From Greeks Abroad: social organization and food among the ten thousand, 1992) Dalby notes in his Footnote 97 – “Turkish and Bulgarian scholars consider that the fact that their warlike medieval ancestors had a regular supply of meat, dried and salted under their saddles, contributed to their success against opponents who fought on cereal food. The method (said to be precursor of modern Turkish pastirma) is first recorded of the Huns by Ammianus Marcellinus 31.2.3, quam inter femora sua equorumque (Gardthausen; vaporumque or equorum mss.) terga suhsertam … calefaciunt, ‘[meat] which they warm by placing it between their own legs and their horses’ backs’, not, as Shaw (25) has it, ‘between the hind quarters of their horses’. On pastirma see Kaymak, M. G. in Türk Folklor Arastirmalari no. 208 (November 1966) Google Scholar; Riddervold, A., ‘On the documentation of food conservation’ in Food conservation: ethnological studies ed.  Riddervold, A. and Ropeid, A. (London 1988) 210–218 Google Scholar; L. Radeva, ‘Traditional methods of food preserving among the Bulgarians’ ib. 38–44.”

Since both the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey are largely Muslim, I decided to go with a beef version. http://www.grouprecipes.com/95661/pastirma.html. I now have beef being pressed in salt in my refrigerator. I’ll report back in a few weeks.

Today I participated in a demo at a festival, so I did some spinning, some naalbinding, and started drawing out and carving the design on my antler salt holder. The design on the original is quite worn in spots so I spent some time with a pen, trying to figure out exactly how the knotwork works, then transferring as much as I dared onto the antler. My piece of antler isn’t as big as the original, nor is it quite the same shape, so some will need to be filed off and redrawn. I used a sharpie so that I could soak the antler to soften it while carving. I struggle to follow patterns and put them into another medium, so I’m pleased with how it is working so far. I feel like putting knife to antler was a huge step. I may go back and clean out the inside more, but for now I intend to focus on the decoration.



Now I need to go through all my cookbooks and dig out these recipes to try.


German Sausage Stuffing Ring


This is a Wurstbugel, or sausage measure, found in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nurnburg. My friend Aelfwyn spotted this and shared it because she knows how much I love sausage things. This was a completely new tool to me, and now I want one. The information below is my best effort to translate the information on the museum’s website. The link above provides all the original text, plus some detailed photos.

The body of the sausage measure is a brass plate with a rectangular basic shape. Towards one end, the plate widens slightly conically and merges into a relatively large and approximately circular eye. The other end kinks almost at right angles and ends in a tapered tip, the so-called degumming blade. However, the cutting edge is dull and serves to allow the careful removal of the intestinal mucus from the sausages to be filled with sausage meat. Both sides of the sausage measure are richly engraved and each has a wreath running along the edge. The engravings on one side also show the date “1601” as well as a pig running from the tip of the slicer blade toward the kink. In addition, on this side of the hanger, a broad, short sausage is notched on the edge of the eye and the initials “FW” are notched in the middle. The engravings on the other side show a cow walking from the top of the slicer blade towards a butcher. The craftsman depicted in elaborate clothing holds a meat cleaver in one hand and an hourglass in the other hand. He is undoubtedly a butcher. Along the edge of the eye, a narrower, longer sausage is scored on this side compared to the other side. This richly decorated sausage measure shows that even small or utilitarian tools or tools may be elaborately decorated. The very beautiful overall maintenance of the piece speaks in any case for a very careful handling of it.

The term” sausage measure “most likely comes from the museum. When purchasing the implement in the year 1884 “Wurstmaß” was used to designate it. The once common, but forgotten and therefore correct term is “sausage bar”. This is in various dictionaries of the 18./19. Century. In the German Dictionary of the Brothers Grimm of 1854 there are references to terms such as “wurstbogen” (15th century) and “sausage bar” (worsteboghel, 14th century). In other encyclopedias, the term “sausage horn” is mentioned, if the device was not made of brass, but made of horn. In Johann Heinrich Zedler’s Universal Lexicon (1732-1750) it says: “sausage bar is made of brass, horn or wood ring, with a small handle, through which sausages are made by filling pig-guts. The butchers used the eye (hole) of the sausage measure as a size guide; the intestine could thus be filled to a constant diameter, and the length could be measured against the length of the sausage measure. After filling, the sausage strand could be pulled through the eye and reshaped as necessary. The blade-like kink on the other end of the device served as a sort of degumming blade for removing the intestinal mucus. With the disappearance of the device from the artisanal production since about the middle of the 19th C, the actual name “Wurstbügel” fell into oblivion, the new term “Wurstmaß” prevailed. Sausage measures were not official equipment for determining sausage sizes; they were simply helpful guides. Sausages were always sold by weight, not shape, so the official control devices were calibrated scales.

One of the earliest images of a sausage measures comes from Die Hausbucher der Nurnburger Zwolfbruderstiftungen, a book that has images of craftsmen who were part of this organization from the late Middle Ages until the early 1800s. The image of Hans Layr, from 1586, him holding several sausage measures. (http://www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de/75-Amb-2-317b-46-r/data)


Siuts, Hinrich: Rural and handicraft tools in Westphalia. The old agricultural and agricultural implements 1890-1930, Münster 1986, p. 191;

Schmidt, Leopold: The History of sausage measure, in: people and homeland (12) 1959, S. 4-5;

Rumpf, Karl: Of the guild system of the city Alsfeld with special consideration of the guild signs in the museum, in: Hessian homeland (2) 1958/59, P. 13-17, here: P. 17;

Pierer’s Universal Lexicon, Volume 19, Altenburg 1865, pp. 395-396; Müller, Wilhelm / Zarncke, Friedrich: Middle High German Dictionary, Leipzig 1854-1866, p. 387;

Adelung, Johann Christoph: Grammatical-critical dictionary of the High German dialect, Leipzig 1793-1801, pp. 1633-1634;

Zedler, Johann Gottfried: Great Universal Lexicon, 26th volume, 1749, p. 211. – Gazetteer (11/12) 1884, p. 141;

What is German? Questions about the self-image of a pondering nation. Accompanying volume to the exhibition in the Germanic National Museum, Nuremberg, June 2 to October 3, 2006. Nuremberg 2006, p. 248;

Always the right measure. From sausage size to environmental analysis. History and Activities of Environmental Analysis Nuremberg. Nuremberg 2007, p. 64;

Schindler, Thomas: From the sausage bar to the sausage measure. Interpretations and meanings in tool science, in: KulturGut (24) 2010, pp. 10-12 (https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/kulturgut/article/viewFile/18782/12593);

Bauriedel, Rüdiger: “Get the sausage measure” when slaughtering. Funny slaughterhouse custom with forgotten real background. In: Hummelgauer homeland messenger, Jg. 24, No. 91, March 2011, P. 2-8;

Schindler, Thomas: Tools of the Early Modern Period in the Germanic National Museum. Inventory catalog. Nuremberg 2013, p. 260, cat. No. 545;

Schindler, Thomas: Sausage bar of the type Einöhrbügel with degumming blade. In: Zünftig! Mysterious craft 1500-1800. Edited by Thomas Schindler, Anke Keller, Ralf Schürer. Exhibition cat. Germanic National Museum. Nuremberg 2013, p. 144, cat. No. 2.49.