Pottage commonly consisted of various ingredients easily available to serfs and peasants and could be kept over the fire for a period of days, during which time some of it was eaten and more ingredients added. The result was a dish that was constantly changing. Pottage consistently remained a staple of the poor's diet throughout most of the 9th-17th-century Europe. When people of higher economic rank, such as nobles, ate pottage, they would add more expensive ingredients such as meats. The pottage that these people ate was much like modern day soups.
Pottage was typically boiled for several hours until the entire mixture took on a homogeneous texture and flavor; this was intended to break down complex starches and to ensure the food was safe for consumption. It was often served, when possible, with bread.