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Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Germany is no exception to the general rule: for ancient Germans, as for others, sweetness was rare and highly coveted. Under Roman cultural influence from the first century b.c.e. until the fifth century c.e., apiculture became more sophisticated and honey more available, but the cultivated sweet fruits (cherries, plums, and apples) introduced by the Romans were regarded as a great luxury and reserved for those of high social standing. From the tenth century on, cane sugar from the Mediterranean was available, but for a long time it remained as expensive as exotic spices and was treated like medicine. See medicinal uses of sugar. At the end of the fourteenth century in Cologne, refined sugar was still more expensive than either ginger or pepper, with a pound of loaf sugar worth more than 16 liters of honey. Nevertheless, the quantity of sugar sold steadily rose throughout the fifteenth century, and by the 1450s sugar prices had fallen below those of ginger and pepper. But for far longer than elsewhere in Western Europe, honey was the Germans’ sweetener of choice, often combined with sweet and tart fruit. See honey.