A wide range of spices was used for all types of sweet and savoury dishes and for pickles and preserves, but they were too expensive for small farmers or cottage dwellers. Originally they served to disguise the ill-flavour of winter-salted meat, and stale materials, but they became popular in their own right. Ginger was a particular favourite, particularly used in the gingerbread eaten on so many festive occasions. The ground spice was employed and in richer households preserved stem ginger was used. Root ginger was most often used in chutney and pickles, but it needed breaking up with a heavy weight to release its flavour.