alchemical food preservation Technology / Science in Scarterra | World Anvil

alchemical food preservation

by Eron12 with Hero Forge
"Most commoners' first image when someone says the word 'alchemist' is a mad lad in a smoky laboratory making things explode, most uses of alchemy are more subtle. Food preservation is one of the many subtle uses of this noble craft."   -Bevan, Swynfaredian alchemist
  Alchemical processes can regular preserve things. It is common to see alchemists create rust proof metal, water proof fabrics, or long lasting inks and papers for long-term records but preserving is somewhat more difficult.   A lot of alchemical mixtures are poisonous. It usually doesn't matter if a concoction is poisonous if you are not going to eat it, but food is normally eaten. Even if a concoction is not overtly poisonous, a lot of alchemical concoctions simply taste bad.   But centuries of trial and error have created some alchemical mixtures that can prevent the spoilage of food without having a large impact on taste as long as specific alchemical mixtures are paired with specific types of food. Alchemical preserved food never tastes exactly the same as fresh food and the vast majority of people would rather eat fresh food given the option, but the option remains to use alchemy to preserve food.   Alchemical preserved meat tastes pretty unpleasant even if it's safe to eat, but fruit and vegetables are impacted less, so they are more commonly treated.  
"Leave it to humans to overcomplicate things. You don't need an alchemist's spell to preserve meat! If you bury meat with the right leaves and come back in a few months you can ferment the meat. It's safe to eat and has a zest that will put hair on your chest."   -Dabub, orc hunter
More often than, alchemical treated food is used with sweet treats for two reasons. First, sweeter foods help mask the taste of alchemical additives. Second, wealthy people pay good money to enjoy their favorite sweet treats out of season.   For instances bananas. In the Elven Empire banana based deserts are very popular but fresh bananas are not available all year round so nobles like to keep stocks of alchemical preserved bananas for banana cream pies.
  Another place alchemically treated food is commonly used is army rations. Yes, alchemical treated food may be four times as expensive as ordinary food, but war is always expensive and if soldiers are going on a long march, you want to make sure their provisions don't spoil before they arrive at their destination. Alchemically treated food is also good for people in fortified positions to weather long sieges.  
by Eron12 with Hero Forge
"We regularly deal with feast or famine conditions in Meckelorn . It might be expensive and time consuming, but if we can alchemically treat some food during our times of plenty, the people will thank us during times of wont."   -Marbuil Redscale, dwarf salt master

Social Impact

by Eron12 with Hero Forge
-Garan, Swynfaredian Baker
"There might be a few situations where it is necessary for the greater good to alchemically preserve food for later, but mostly it's a waste of time and money to appease the nobles.  Nine forbid the high lords and ladies have to go without their favorite food!   They must have lemon cakes all year round rather than waiting for lemon season like everyone else."
  Usually the cost is so prohibitive so alchemical preserved food is limited to wealthy people's dinner plates though lower classes can sometimes enjoy alchemical preserved food on special occasions, especially in cultures when nobles regularly share their food with the peasants for good relations.

Medicine too

  A lot of medicinal herbs and the like are highly perishable and sometimes alchemy can be used to preserve medical supplies.   This often negatively impacts the taste and aroma, but as long as it is not poisonous, it is usually acceptable.  Few expect their medicine to taste good, and a lot of medicines such as compresses and salves are not supposed to be eaten.
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Cover image: Celum philosophorum 1527 by Public domain medieval illustration


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