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The New Forest Gypsies Diet

The diet of Gypsies living in the forest would have varied depending on what food was available and the time of year. Food would be cooked and prepared in large pots over a camp fire using a Kettle Crane. The food cooked would have been fresh with a large variety of natural ingredients. Meat was caught using, nets, ferrets, catapults and dogs or bought from the local butcher. At one time squirrels, hedgehogs, hares, pheasants and rabbits would have ended up in the pot.

Fruits and berries would have been collected by the woman and children and made into drinks, jams and cooked in puddings. Herbs were also collected up and would be used in cooking, made into herb teas and used for making remedies to keep their families healthy.

Gypsies were meticulously clean and would never use a bowl for preparing food that had been used to wash in.

Joey Grey (Soup)


1. Fry the bacon and onion in a pan until brown.
2. Cover with the water and add the sliced potatoes
3. Simmer for ten minutes
4. Add tomatoes if required and sprinkle over the stock cubes
5. Allow to simmer for ten to fifteen minutes
6. Serve as a soup with crusty bread or put small pieces of broken bread on top

Serves four as a starter or as a snack.

New Forest Rasher Pudding

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1. Mix pastry using water, flour and fat
2. Roll out on a floured surface
3. Place bacon, onion and if using tomatoes and potatoes onto pastry
4. Carefully roll up like a Swiss roll and place in a pudding cloth
5. Secure corners with string
6. Place in boiling water in a large saucepan and cook for two hours
7. After two hours take Rasher Pudding out of water and let it drain for five minutes
8. To serve cut into slices

Pot of Shackles

Adjust the quantities to suit your personal taste and the amount of people you are feeding.
  • Water
  • Pheasant or whatever meat you have available
  • Onions
  • Split Peas (Soak overnight)
  • Lentils (Soak overnight)
  • Swede (Chopped)
  • Carrots (Chopped)
  • Parsnips (Chopped)
  • Turnips (Chopped)
  • Potatoes (Chopped)
  • 3-4 Packets of any soup mix

  • Dumplings:-
  • Water
  • Lard or suet
  • Flour

  • Instructions
    1. Half fill a large cooking pot with water
    2. Add prepared meat, onions, split peas and lentils
    3. Cook until the meat is cooked through
    4. Add all the vegetables and continue cooking until vegetables are ready
    5. Add soup powder and mix well
    6. Mix flour and fat with a little water and make into balls using floured hands

    Float dumplings on top of the meal and continue cooking for 15 – 20 minutes.

    Romany Sunday Lunch

    Courtesy of Jack Loveland

    1. Make a fire and hang a pot of water over using a kettle crane
    2. Put your joint of meat into the pot and start cooking
    3. Prepare your carrots and Swede, chop into large pieces
    4. Prepare and cut cauliflower and cabbage into quarters
    5. When the meat is cooked add cauliflower, cabbage, Swede and carrots to pot
    6. Prepare potatoes and cut into large chunks
    7. When the vegetables are nearly cooked add your potatoes to the pot
    8. When the potatoes are ready take out meat and vegetables, strain and serve.

    Hedgehog (Hotche Withchi)


    Prepare your hedgehog as you would a rabbit, but if after skinning you still have pickles left, these can be removed by burning over the fire. If clay is available you may encase the meat in it and bake. You could also make a clay oven at the side of your fire in which to roast it. The hedgehog can also be roasted on a spit by inserting a clean stick through and turning it regularly above the flame.

    New Forest Curranty Pudding

    1. Mix all ingredients together
    2. Kneed with floured hands on a floured board
    3. Roll out a long rectangle and roll up or make into one or more balls
    4. Tie securely in pudding cloth and cook in a pot of water and cook until ready

    Rice Pudding

    1. Rinse rice well
    2. Tip rice into a pudding cloth
    3. Secure clothe tightly at top leaving room for rice to swell
    4. Place into pot of boiling water and cook for two hours
    5. Untie cloth and turn onto plate
    6. Serve with sugar, jam or honey

    Apple Dumplings

    1. Mix together flour, fat and a little water
    2. Kneed mixture on a floured board
    3. Prepare apples by peeling and slicing
    4. Add apples and sugar to mixture
    5. Roll mixture into one large or separate small balls
    6. Secure dumplings in one or more pudding cloth tying ends securely
    7. Place in large pot of boiling water and cook until ready

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