Experimental Archaeology, Garum

Experimentation

The first recipe of our experimental Garum used (approx.) 230.0g of whole sprats, 1.0g of sardine intestines, 46.0g of salt, and a generous amount of mint and bay leaves. The ingredients were ground together using a pestle and mortar and the resulting mixture was put into a beaker and left overnight to ferment. Within 18 hours of the initial experiment, a liquid had formed around the bottom of the beaker. The mixture was taken and transferred into weighed beakers for further, long-term fermentation.

The second experimental recipe used only the guts and tails from sardines. The bodies of these fish were then used in a later recipe. The guts and tails were placed into a container with 16.3g of salt or 20% the weight of the fish. As with the first recipe, the mixture was left overnight to begin its fermentation. On the second day of the experiment, the mixture was reweighed and moved into a sealed jar for safer storage. The gross weight was 294.6g therefore the tare weight was 216.4g. The initial fermentation of the fish within 18 hours can be seen in the featured image.

Our third and final experimental on Garum recipe used 490.6g of sardines (the intestines from which were used in the previous recipe) and 965.0g of salt.  Firstly, gutted & tailed sardines were marinated with salt (490.0g used) on both the inside and outside. A further 475.0g of salt were then added to cover the fish completely. Repeating the first two recipes, the mixture was left for 18 hours to undergo initial fermentation.

As with our first recipe, a small amount of liquid from the fish had collected in the bottom of the tub when we returned the next day. It was noted, to our Surprise, the overnight fermentation had produced little-to no smell inside the laboratory!

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