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THE STUDY OF THE EVOLUTION OF FRUITS PRESERVATION TECHNIQUES IN THE IBERIAN PENINSULA THROUGH THE AGRONOMIC ANDALUSIAN WORKS, THEIR ROMAN ANTECEDENTS AND POSTERIOR FOOTPRINT IN THE RENAISSANCE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 January 2014

Ana M. Cabo-González*
Affiliation:
Área de Estudios Árabes, University of Seville, c/Palos de la Frontera s/n C.P. 41004 Sevilla, Spain
*

Abstract

Since the beginning of mankind, man has been concerned with the conservation of food in order to prolong its edibility. Over time, different food preservation methods have been discovered and improved, and there are many works that describe these techniques. This work will describe the knowledge and the development of preservation techniques of inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula. The work focuses on the various achievements from the first to the sixteenth centuries, allowing us to appreciate the different historic contributions. The selected and consulted works are: L.J.M. Columela, Los doce libros de Agricultura (The Twelve Books of Agriculture), Abū al-Jayr, Kitāb al-Filāḥa. Tratado de agricultura (Book of Agriculture), Ibn Baṣṣāl, Kitāb al-Filāḥa. Libro de agricultura (Book of Agriculture), Ibn al-ʿAwwām, Kitāb al-Filāḥa. Libro de Agricultura (Book of Agriculture), Ibn Luyūn, Kitāb al-Filāḥa. Tratado de Agricultura (Book of Agriculture), Alonso de Herrera, Agricultura general (General Agriculture).

Résumé

Depuis les débuts de l'humanité, l'être humain s'est préoccupé de conserver les aliments en vue de les rendre plus longtemps comestibles. Au fil du temps, différentes méthodes pour préserver la nourriture ont été découvertes et perfectionnées, et ces techniques se trouvent décrites dans beaucoup d'œuvres. Ce travail décrit la connaissance des techniques de conservation qu'avaient les habitants de la péninsule ibérique ainsi que les développements qu'ils leur ont apportés. Il s'attache à étudier les divers procédés mis au point entre le ier et le xvie siècle, de façon à évaluer leur apport historique respectif. Les œuvres choisies et consultées sont : L.J.M. Columela, Los doce libros de Agricultura (Les douze livres d'agriculture), Abū al-Jayr, Kitāb al-Filāḥa. Tratado de agricultura (Livre d'agriculture), Ibn Baṣṣāl, Kitāb al-Filāḥa. Libro de agricultura (Livre d'agriculture), Ibn al-ʿAwwām, Kitāb al-Filāḥa. Libro de Agricultura (Livre d'agriculture), Ibn Luyūn, Kitāb al-Filāḥa. Tratado de Agricultura (Livre d'agriculture), Alonso de Herrera, Agricultura general (Agriculture générale).

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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References

1 Cf. The Holy Bible, Genesis, chapter 41, “Behold, there shall come seven years of great plenty in the whole land of Egypt” (verse 29). “After which shall follow other seven years of so great scarcity, that all the abundance before shall be forgotten: for the famine shall consume all the land” (verse 30). “That he may appoint overseers over all the countries: and gather into barns the fifth part of the fruits, during the seven fruitful years” (verse 34). “That shall now presently ensue: and let all the corn be laid up under Pharaoh's hands and be reserved in the cities” (verse 35). “And let it be in readiness, against the famine of seven years to come, which shall oppress Egypt, and the land shall not consumed with scarcity” (verse 36).

2 Salt has been a very important factor in the history of humanity and especially in the Egyptian world, cf. Kurlansky, M., Salt: a World History (London, 2003)Google Scholar.

3 Smoking is a technique that consists in subjecting food to smoke from wood burning fire, and also gives flavor to the food and is used to preserve it.

4 The knowledge of the ancient Greek world are perfected by the Romans, which make it rise the level of art the food, the culinary techniques and the techniques of food preservation, cf. André, J., L'alimentation et la cuisine à Rome (Paris, 1981)Google Scholar.

5 The Hispano-Arabic agronomics books of the XI and XII centuries devote a significant part of the text to describe the methods of food preservation in general and cereals in particular. Especially relevant are the descriptions of the buildings the granaries and silos, whose techniques are transmitted to the Muslims of al-Andalus, especially by Columela and all the Roman tradition, and from those will go to the Renaissance through the work of Alonso de Herrera, as is well described in Bolens, L., “La conservation des grains en Andalousie médiévale d'après les traités d'agronomie hispano-arabes,” in Les techniques de conservation des grains à long terme. Leur rôle dans la dynamique des systèmes de cultures et des sociétés, sous la direction de Gast, M. et Sigaut, F., 3 vols. (Paris, 1979–85), vol. I (1979), pp. 105–8Google Scholar.

6 Cheftel, J.C. & Cheftel, H., Introducción a la bioquímica y tecnología de los alimentos, 2 vols. (Zaragoza, 1993)Google Scholar; Fennema, O.R., Food Chemistry (New York, 1996)Google Scholar; Hersom, A.C. & Hulland, E.D., Canned Foods: Thermal Processing and Microbiology (New York, 1981)Google Scholar.

7 The different grains preservation techniques for later consumption dates back to antiquity, where already were produced a great number of various species that the agronomists strove to distinguish. Ever since then it was very important the cultivation of many species so that, as is at present, it can be controlled the ravages of disease and diversify the collection times and the food resources of communities, cf. Amouretti, M.C., “Les céréales dans l'Antiquité: espèces, mouture, conservation, liaison et interférences,” in Les techniques de conservation des grains à long terme, vol. I (1979), pp. 5769Google Scholar. Regarding the application of the techniques for the preservation of these grains and necessary actions to be carried out to preserve them from putrefaction due to moisture, the losses are due to drought and excessive ventilation and havoc produced by insects, cf. Sigaut, F., “Identification des techniques de conservation et de stockage des grains,” in Les techniques de conservation des grains à long terme, vol. II (1981), pp. 156–80Google Scholar.

8 Regarding all plants which their flour can serve to make bread, it is important to look in the Andalusian agronomic works, because these works include in its pages each of the plants that were grown in al-Andalus, and describe especially those that were used to make bread flour: from fruits to roots fresh and dried or cereals, cf. Bolens, L., “Interprétation anthropologique de la panification d'après la documentation botanique et agronomique hispano-arabe (XI–XIII siècle),” in Les techniques de conservation des grains à long terme, vol. III (1985), pp. 101–7Google Scholar.

9 All the works consulted for this paper are ‘agronomist’ since they described with more details the different techniques of food preservation. Botanical, medical, pharmacological and culinary works do not usually devote specific epigraphs to this kind of subjects. Hence all the extracted information comes from the mentioned agronomist.

10 Regards the influence that the Columela's work had on al-Andalus agriculture, cf. Bolens, L., Agrónomos andaluces de la Edad Media (Granada, 1994), pp. 5965Google Scholar.

11 The importance of Columela and his work is good provided for in García, J.I., Agronomía y tradición clásica: Columela en España (Sevilla, 1995)Google Scholar.

12 Columela, L. M., Los doce libros de agricultura (The Twelve books of Agriculture), trad. Álvarez de Sotomayor, J. M. y Rubio, 2 vols. (Santander, 1979)Google Scholar. The introduction of this book describes the life of our author and his family as well as his stay in the capital of the Roman Empire, pp. XV–XXII.

13 All about this author and his work can be read in Carabaza, J.M., “Un agrónomo del siglo XI,” Ciencias de la Naturaleza en al-Andalus I (Granada, 1990), pp. 223–40Google Scholar.

14 Abū al-Jayr, Kitāb al -Filāḥa. Tratado de agricultura (Book of Agriculture), ed. and transl. Carabaza, J.M. (Madrid, 1991)Google Scholar.

15 Can be found an extensive biography of this author and his work in Lirola, J. and Puerta, J.M. (eds.), Enciclopedia de al-Andalus. Diccionario de autores y obras andalusíes (Granada, 2002), vol. I, pp. 589–95Google Scholar.

16 Abulḫayr al-ʾIšbīlī, Kitābu ‘Umdati ṭṭabīb fī maʿrifati nnabāt likulli labīb. Libro base del médico para el conocimiento de la botánica por todo experto, ed. and transl. Bustamante, J., Corriente, F. and Tilmatine, M., 3 vols. (Madrid, 2004–2010)Google Scholar. Reference to our author found in sections 929, 2731, 3024, 3126, 4552 (2), 4969, 5120 and 5123, Abū al-Jayr which calls it “Teacher agronomic experimented, skilled and capable in the art”, in maintaining interesting conversations about growing plants.

17 Ibn Baṣṣāl, Kitāb al-Filāḥa. Libro de agricultura (Book of Agriculture), ed. and transl. Vallicrosa, J.M. Millás and Aziman, M. (Tetuán, 1955)Google Scholar.

18 About this author and his work, cf. Enciclopedia de al-Andalus, vol. I, pp. 528–32; Ibn al-ʿAwwam, Le livre de l'agriculture. Kitab al-filaha, traduction de l'arabe de J.-J. Clément-Mullet revue et corrigée; introduction de Mohammed el Faïz (Arles, 2000)Google Scholar; Al Awam, Libro de agricultura, edición y comentarios sobre la traducción de Banqueri de José Ignacio Cubero Salmerón (Sevilla, 1999)Google Scholar.

19 Ibn al-ʿAwwām, Kitāb al-Filāḥa. Libro de Agricultura (Book of Agriculture), ed. & trad. Banqueri, J.A.; estudio preliminar y notas Hernández, J.E.García, y E.; 2 vols. (Madrid, 1998)Google Scholar. It is in this book where we find a greater number of gastronomic recipes on food preservation, such as J.E Bermejo and E. Garcia say on page 35.

20 About this author and his work, cf. E. García Gómez, “Sobre agricultura arábigo-andaluza”, Al-Andalus, X (1945): 127–46.

21 Ibn Luyūn, Tratado de Agricultura, Kitāb al-Filāḥa (Book of Agriculture), ed. and transl. Eguaras, J. (Granada, 1975)Google Scholar.

22 About this author and his work, cf. Baranda, C., “Ciencia y humanismo: la obra de agricultura de Gabriel Alonso de Herrera (1513),” Criticón, 46 (1989): 95108Google Scholar.

23 Alonso de Herrera, Agricultura general (General Agriculture), ed. Terrón, E. (Madrid, 1988)Google Scholar.

24 About the preservation of vegetables see the work by García, E.La conservación de los productos vegetales en las fuentes agronómicas andalusíes,” in Marín, M. and Saines, D. (eds.), La alimentación en las culturas islámicas (Madrid, 1994), pp. 251–95Google Scholar, which it creates a database to highlight what were the products more used by the Andalusians to preserved and store, as well as the times, methods and times, containers they kept. It is a very technical work and includes countless data of all types, with which it may become very different conclusions.

25 About the taxonomy, morphology, cultivation techniques, varieties, applications and consumption of quinces, cf. Carabaza, J.M., García, E., Hernández, J.E. and Jiménez, A., Árboles y arbustos en al-Andalus (Madrid, 2004), pp. 129–32Google Scholar.

26 Ibid., pp. 123–9.

27 Ibid., pp. 277–86.

28 Ibid., pp. 89–97.

29 Ibid., pp. 183–99.

30 Ibid., pp. 137–45.

31 Los doce libros, vol. II, pp. 205–6.

32 Is a black and fetid liquid which is obtained by pressing or centrifuging the olive paste previously milled in the mills.

33 Cf. Katz, S.H., Enciclopedia of Food and Culture, 3 vols. (New York, 2003), vol. II, pp. 315–16Google Scholar.

34 Los doce libros, vol. II, p. 199.

35 Old measurement for liquids equivalent to 12 l.

36 Must extract from a grape variety called aminea.

37 It is a fruit that is shaped like a pear small, yellowish red color.

38 An old measurement for liquids equivalent to a half sextario and capacity measure for fruit, equivalent to slightly more than 18 l.

39 Tratado de agricultura, pp. 313–14.

40 Libro de agricultura, vol. I, pp. 660–89. The chapter starts with a series of directions for the preservation of fruits, fresh or dried, grains, seeds, legumes, flours and some vegetables. The most important thing is to store the food in cool, ventilate, clean, not at all fetid place; and that no fruit will be put side by side the quinces.

41 Libro de agricultura, vol. I, pp. 669–72.

42 Tratado de agricultura, pp. 227–8.

43 Agricultura general, pp. 221–3. The chapter first part is devoted to describe the most indicate soils to plant this fruit tree, since it requires a moist, nourishing land, groundwater plentiful, etc. Hence quinces should be planted either near the irrigation ditch or the riverbanks during the months indicates at that purpose. Seeds, times and kind of grafts should be chosen depending on the climate. In the second part, he describes different ways to preserve quinces.

44 Agricultura general, pp. 222–3.

45 Gum tragacanth extracted from a shrub of the family of the papilionaceous, about two meters high, with abundant branches, elliptical leaves composed of leaflets, white flowers in axillary's spikes and fruit in vanilla. It grows in Persia and Asia Minor, and its trunk and branches naturally flowing white rubber widely used in pharmacy and industry.

46 Los doce libros, vol. II, pp. 205–6.

47 Tratado de agricultura, p. 313.

48 Libro de agricultura, pp. 228–9.

49 Libro de agricultura, vol. I, pp. 669–70.

50 Tratado de agricultura, pp. 227–8.

51 Agricultura general, pp. 223–6. A long description including the enumeration of apple tree varieties, the most appropriate soils in which to plant them, the times and the methods for preservation along with the grafts and treatments to apply if ants or worms attack the fruit. The method to preserve apples is also included.

52 Agricultura general, p. 225.

53 Los doce libros, vol. II, pp. 203–5.

54 Tratado de agricultura, p. 315.

55 Libro de agricultura, p. 229.

56 Libro de agricultura, vol. I, pp. 673–4.

57 Tratado de agricultura, pp. 227–8.

58 Agricultura general, pp. 207–11. As for the apples and quinces, there is a large description on pomegranates, starting with the list of different varieties, most appropriate soils, times and methods, and the treatments if attacked for ants or worms. At the end of the chapter, he describes the preservation methods.

59 Los doce libros, vol. II, pp. 174–6.

60 Tratado de agricultura, p. 314.

61 Libro de agricultura, vol. I, pp. 668–9.

62 Agricultura general, pp. 211–17. As for apples, quinces and pomegranates, there is a whole and vast chapter describing fig trees. It starts by the description of the trees, the directions on climates, times, soils and methods for doing it; the methods in case of being attacked by ants; types of grafts and times for it. Finally, prior to describe the fig properties, he gives the different techniques for preserving the figs.

63 Large basktets.

64 Los doce libros, vol. II, pp. 176–7.

65 The main method of obtaining bleach was cooking ashes.

66 Tratado de agricultura, pp. 315–7.

67 Libro de agricultura, vol. I, pp. 660–8.

68 Tratado de agricultura, p. 223.

69 Tratado de agricultura, p. 228.

70 Agricultura general, pp. 124–6.

71 Agricultura general, pp. 126–7

72 Los doce libros, vol. II, pp. 171–2. In this description the author gives a list of varieties of pears: Dolabela, Palombara, Reales, Venus, Grandes, Nevio, Latericianas, Decumanas, Olor de Lurel and Mosqueruelas.

73 Los doce libros, vol. II, p. 174.

74 Tratado de agricultura, p. 314. He practically gives the same description for pomegranates, apples, quinces, pears, ciders and grapes.

75 Libro de agricultura, vol. I, pp. 669–70.

76 Libro de agricultura, vol. I, pp. 671–2.

77 Tratado de agricultura, p. 224. The same epigraph for: pears, plums, raisins, cherries, apricots, medlars and pomegranate grains.

78 Agricultura general, pp. 250–3. The whole chapter, a very large one is devoted to describe these trees, directions about the most appropriates climates, soils and methods to plant them; treatments in case of being attacked by caterpillars; types of grafts, times and properties of this fruit. At the end he provides recipes to preserve it.

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THE STUDY OF THE EVOLUTION OF FRUITS PRESERVATION TECHNIQUES IN THE IBERIAN PENINSULA THROUGH THE AGRONOMIC ANDALUSIAN WORKS, THEIR ROMAN ANTECEDENTS AND POSTERIOR FOOTPRINT IN THE RENAISSANCE
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THE STUDY OF THE EVOLUTION OF FRUITS PRESERVATION TECHNIQUES IN THE IBERIAN PENINSULA THROUGH THE AGRONOMIC ANDALUSIAN WORKS, THEIR ROMAN ANTECEDENTS AND POSTERIOR FOOTPRINT IN THE RENAISSANCE
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THE STUDY OF THE EVOLUTION OF FRUITS PRESERVATION TECHNIQUES IN THE IBERIAN PENINSULA THROUGH THE AGRONOMIC ANDALUSIAN WORKS, THEIR ROMAN ANTECEDENTS AND POSTERIOR FOOTPRINT IN THE RENAISSANCE
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