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Old 05-22-2020, 09:04 AM
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List of Preserved Foods with an Ancient Origin


How many different foods can you name that originated in ancient times with the thought of "Gee, I wonder how we can avoid starving to death next winter?" I can think of a few right away - cheese, bacon, sauerkraut, pickles, and lutefisk. Can anyone expand this list?

I have never tried lutefisk. Should I? Is it available in New Mexico? Would it be good with red chile?

(Another question occurred to me as I was typing this post. How do you properly punctuate a sentence which is a question that ends with a quote that is also a question. Did I do it right? This question probably belongs in a different forum.)
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:19 AM
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Yogurt
dried salami type things
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:23 AM
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I have never tried lutefisk. Should I? Is it available in New Mexico? Would it be good with red chile?

(
Anything that kills the taste.

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Old 05-22-2020, 09:42 AM
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I'm not sure lutefisk is good with anything. I understand it is an acquired taste. However, it seems that you need to start acquiring it at a young age.
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:48 AM
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O LUTEFISK-Red Stangland and Terry R. Shaw
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:49 AM
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Beer is a good way to preserve grain.
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:13 AM
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Whiskey is a better way.

OP, lutefisk isn't food. It was originally a practical joke that just took off, as people who fell for it tried it on others.
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:32 AM
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Chuño, which is a way of freeze-drying potatoes to preserve them.

Also, dried fruit.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 05-22-2020 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:37 AM
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In the same vein as sauerkraut, there's kimchi (which is a different process that produces different flavors, and which can be done with a wide variety of vegetables, not just cabbage).

Off the top of my head, there's also jerky, pemmican, and a wide variety of dried fruits.

And are we counting foods (such as most root vegetables) that can last for months or years in their natural state?
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:58 AM
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And are we counting foods (such as most root vegetables) that can last for months or years in their natural state?
That's not really what I was thinking about this morning but I still wouldn't mind discussing them. What motivated my question was the thought that mankind might never have invented certain foods if it were not for our ancient ancestors lack of modern technology. Can you imagine a world without bacon? What a horrible scenario that would be.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:29 AM
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Whiskey is a better way.
Not really. Whiskey and most other fermented beverages like wine or mead don't have the nutritive value of beer. Also, distilled beverages like whiskey date to only around five hundred years ago, which aren't really "ancient times."

Whiskey provides mostly calories, and has little food value beyond that. While it's a more concentrated form for shipping alcohol than beer, it wasn't developed to serve as a food.

Last edited by Colibri; 05-22-2020 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:32 AM
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Smoked fish, perhaps? Also pickled fish.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:36 AM
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Tell my kids that! To them 20 years ago is ancient.

Optimator is what got the monks through Lent. The OP mentioned pickles, which really includes so many different foodstuffs than you can imagine.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:41 AM
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Smoked fish, perhaps? Also pickled fish.
And salted fish like salt cod.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:46 AM
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Also lots of kinds of salted meat, like corned beef (treated with "corns" of salt), brined hams, and many many other varieties.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:47 AM
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Raisins and Prunes, which I supposed could fall under the heading of "dried fruit", although it's whole dried fruit, as opposed to dried apple slices and the like.

I don't know how ancient it is, but the US Navy shortly after the Revolution had "Dried soup", which was soup with all the water boiled out of it, leaving a solid black mass that could be reconstituted by simply putting it in a pot of boiling water. There's a solid black chunk of this stuff at the USS Constitution museum in Boston. It looks more ike building material than food, but it could apparently keep forever.


For that matter, Ship's Biscuit also keeps forever, if you keep it dry. It was basically flour and water, mixed to a paste (with little water in it) and baked. The result was hard as a rock, but woulkd keep without preservatives. They must have had stuff like this in the ancient world -- when Ernest by Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper were making the film Grass in Afghanistan in the 1920s (well over a decade before they made King Kong), they followed the nomadic herdsmen who themselves followed the grass that kept their herds alive (hence the film's title). Their financial backer, a woman whose name I can't recall, reportedly broke a tooth on the nomads' rock-hard bread, which must have been a cousin to ship's biscuit.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:49 AM
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Here's some Portable Soup from England:

https://georgianera.wordpress.com/20...-navy-in-1756/
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:51 AM
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Ship's Biscuit = hardtack

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardtack
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:51 AM
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And stockfish.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:52 AM
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Miso is apparently REALLY old. As in, 4th century BC old.

I'd imagine that dried fruit and dried meat are probably the very oldest preserved foods though- they take very little in the way of extra ingredients or infrastructure.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:53 AM
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Green olives are preserved by various curing methods including being treated with lye or brining. And various foods are also preserved in olive oil, like anchovies and other fish.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:54 AM
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Their financial backer, a woman whose name I can't recall, reportedly broke a tooth on the nomads' rock-hard bread, which must have been a cousin to ship's biscuit.
And maybe a nephew of Pratchett's dwarf bread.
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Old 05-22-2020, 12:00 PM
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Butter. And, taking it a step further, bog butter. Though you don't see that so often these days. Not where I shop, anyways.

j
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Old 05-22-2020, 12:25 PM
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Honey is, I think, the ultimate preserved food -- you don't have to do anything, and it keeps forever. They've found ancient Egyptian honey. It'll also preserve other things, provided it can penetrate to all parts of the thing preserved (otherwise you end up with a putrefying mass under the honey).



Of course, there are lots of sun-dried vegetables and herbs that will keep a long time -- think of sun-dried tomatoes, dried chiles, mushrooms, and so on. You don't need a modern dessicator or freeze-drier to make these -- just let them dry in the sun until most of the water is gone from them Think of all those garlands of such things you see in old stores or native villages.





And there's always Hakarl -- Greenland shark that has been buried for several months to ferment, then hung up to dry. (although apparently modern hakarl is made in a less traumatic way). The fermentation is necessary because Greenland Shark has dangerously high levels of urea, and is poisonous if eaten fresh. The fernmentation reduces this, much of it turning into ammonia, and resulting in something hat merely makes novice eaters throw up. I'm not sure how long it keeps once it's dried, but I'm guessing a long time.
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Old 05-22-2020, 12:32 PM
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I'm not sure how long it keeps once it's dried, but I'm guessing a long time.
In fact, they still have some left of the very first shark preserved this way!
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Old 05-22-2020, 12:37 PM
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Butter. And, taking it a step further, bog butter. Though you don't see that so often these days. Not where I shop, anyways.

j
And if you turn the butter into ghee, it will last indefinitely at room temperature.
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Old 05-22-2020, 01:17 PM
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How about some rotten birds stuffed in a seal skin?
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Old 05-22-2020, 02:03 PM
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Any of the edible molds and fungus: dried mushrooms, huitlacoche (corn smut), natto, tempeh.

On most of that stuff, I always wonder who took the first bite? Extreme hunger is a powerful motivator!


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Old 05-22-2020, 02:16 PM
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No matter how long you leave it, hakarl will never get any worse.
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Old 05-22-2020, 02:32 PM
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Do grains count? Keep moisture and bugs out of rice, it'll last a long time. I thing even with the bugs, it'll be cool to eat-- extra protein!
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Old 05-22-2020, 03:43 PM
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OP, lutefisk isn't food. It was originally a practical joke that just took off, as people who fell for it tried it on others.
I have no idea if this is true or not, but somewhere I read that lutefisk is now more popular in Minnesota than it is in Norway. Supposedly in Norway lutefisk was considered "poor people's food", and thus people wouldn't eat it unless they really had to. The Norwegians who immigrated to the US mostly were those poor people, so they were the ones who felt nostalgic for the lutefisk they ate back in the old country and introduced it to the Upper Midwest.
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Old 05-22-2020, 03:54 PM
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Any of the edible molds and fungus: dried mushrooms, huitlacoche (corn smut), natto, tempeh.

On most of that stuff, I always wonder who took the first bite? Extreme hunger is a powerful motivator!


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A while ago, there was a thread that speculated on the origins of cooking. One poster imagined a group of prehistoric children playing around, and accidentally dropping their food into the fire, and the mother rolling her eyes and saying, "You spoiled it; you eat it."

Another poster imagined a group of male teenagers sitting around the fire and saying, "I dare you to eat that."
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:16 PM
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Confit is a different method of preservation then has been mentioed. I'm not sure how acient it is though.
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:27 PM
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Confit is a different method of preservation then has been mentioed. I'm not sure how acient it is though.
Confit is basically a kind of potted meat, in which hot cooked meat is covered in a layer of fat and allowed to cool. The fat keeps out bacteria and prevents spoilage. According to this, the method dates from at least the medieval period.
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:33 PM
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Green olives are preserved by various curing methods including being treated with lye or brining. And various foods are also preserved in olive oil, like anchovies and other fish.
There's a question that has always fascinated me - how in the world did people 7000 years ago reach the level of knowledge to render olives edible?

"OK, Phil. These olives are way too bitter to eat, so let's soak them for a couple of days in water that's been strained through our campfire ashes. Then we'll toss them into a bucket of sea water and leave them for a year or two. Then we'll have something to put in our martinis!"

Last edited by silenus; 05-22-2020 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:42 PM
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Dried and cured sausages haven't been mentioned yet. I think that the ancient Romans had sausages?

We tend to think of ham as just pork, but I've seen references to mutton ham in books from the 1800s and early 1900s and it probably goes back much farther than that.
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:45 PM
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madsircool mentioned "dried salami-type things" earlier. But he didn't expand that to include cured sausages. Or does "salami" cover that?
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:54 PM
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There's a question that has always fascinated me - how in the world did people 7000 years ago reach the level of knowledge to render olives edible?

"OK, Phil. These olives are way too bitter to eat, so let's soak them for a couple of days in water that's been strained through our campfire ashes. Then we'll toss them into a bucket of sea water and leave them for a year or two. Then we'll have something to put in our martinis!"
Oy, 'dey watched the birdies do it. 'Dat's how a lot of foods be discovered, init?
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:58 PM
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madsircool mentioned "dried salami-type things" earlier. But he didn't expand that to include cured sausages. Or does "salami" cover that?
Isn't charcuterie the umbrella term for all the preserved meat products?
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:58 PM
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Dried and cured sausages haven't been mentioned yet. I think that the ancient Romans had sausages?
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madsircool mentioned "dried salami-type things" earlier. But he didn't expand that to include cured sausages. Or does "salami" cover that?
Salami is just one kind of salt-cured fermented, air-dried sausage. There are many other kinds. And sausages can also be preserved by being smoked.
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:19 PM
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There's a question that has always fascinated me - how in the world did people 7000 years ago reach the level of knowledge to render olives edible?

"OK, Phil. These olives are way too bitter to eat, so let's soak them for a couple of days in water that's been strained through our campfire ashes. Then we'll toss them into a bucket of sea water and leave them for a year or two. Then we'll have something to put in our martinis!"
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Oy, 'dey watched the birdies do it. 'Dat's how a lot of foods be discovered, init?
Despite the common advice, eating what birds eat is not necessarily a good guide to what's edible to humans. For one thing, birds pass toxic seeds through their digestive tracts without digesting them, whereas humans can break them down and have problems. In the case of olives, birds don't care about the bitterness of the fruit since they swallow it whole.

Apparently olives were first cultivated for their oil. It was the Romans who discovered how to treat them with lye to make them edible.
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:22 PM
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Egyptians knew about how to mummify folks. I think they might have been able to preserve a hunk of camel meat.

I also think ancient humanoids ate a lot of rotten stuff and bad berries and fungi.

Belly ache meant: don't do that again.
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:38 PM
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For that matter, Ship's Biscuit also keeps forever, if you keep it dry. It was basically flour and water, mixed to a paste (with little water in it) and baked. The result was hard as a rock, but woulkd keep without preservatives. They must have had stuff like this in the ancient world -- when Ernest by Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper were making the film Grass in Afghanistan in the 1920s (well over a decade before they made King Kong), they followed the nomadic herdsmen who themselves followed the grass that kept their herds alive (hence the film's title). Their financial backer, a woman whose name I can't recall, reportedly broke a tooth on the nomads' rock-hard bread, which must have been a cousin to ship's biscuit.
You can still get it.

https://purity.nf.ca/products/

And you can still break a tooth on it. I know this for a fact.
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:44 PM
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Egyptians knew about how to mummify folks. I think they might have been able to preserve a hunk of camel meat.
The Egyptians preserved mummies with natron and resin. Meat preserved according to the mummification process would taste pretty much like pine-tar soap.
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:08 PM
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So, better than lutefisk.
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:25 PM
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There's a question that has always fascinated me - how in the world did people 7000 years ago reach the level of knowledge to render olives edible?

"OK, Phil. These olives are way too bitter to eat, so let's soak them for a couple of days in water that's been strained through our campfire ashes. Then we'll toss them into a bucket of sea water and leave them for a year or two. Then we'll have something to put in our martinis!"

Coffee! Who in the Hell harvested the beans, roasted them, then brewed them in hot water?

I mean, I'm GRATEFUL, but still...

And what about artichokes?


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Old 05-22-2020, 06:34 PM
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I often think how could anyone look at a lobster and say "Yummy, good eats!"
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:36 PM
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The Egyptians preserved mummies with natron and resin. Meat preserved according to the mummification process would taste pretty much like pine-tar soap.
I was hoping they used a slightly different recipe. Maybe rosemary and pine-nuts?
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:37 PM
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George Carlin probably had it right when he speculated that shepherds probably watched goats eat the beans then party all night.
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:54 PM
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George Carlin probably had it right when he speculated that shepherds probably watched goats eat the beans then party all night.
There are several legends about the discovery of the invigorating qualities of coffee, one of the most popular being that of the goatherd Kaldi. He found his goats dancing about after eating the coffee berries and then tried them himself. Other legends involve a Sufi monk noticing that birds became more agitated after eating the seeds. But coffee was apparently first used by Sufi monks trying to stay awake during their devotions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VOW
Coffee! Who in the Hell harvested the beans, roasted them, then brewed them in hot water?
Coffee was originally prepared by boiling the skin and pulp of the fruit, or by boiling the green seed. It was brewed as a stimulant rather than for its flavor. It was discovered much later that roasting the seeds improved the flavor, and grinding them improved extraction of the caffeine and flavor compounds.

Last edited by Colibri; 05-22-2020 at 06:57 PM.
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