[Sca-cooks] Period Non-Alcoholic Beverages-was Citrus

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Sat Mar 29 14:05:37 PDT 2008

Isabella wrote:
>As well as the citrus-based syrups, there was also a vinegar-based 
>one whose name escapes me; it tasted remarkably like lemonade when 
>mixed with water. Anyone remember the name of it? It's getting warm 
>again in Oldenfeld...

There is a lemon syrup recipe in the anonymous Andalusian cookbook 
which is NOT a sikanjubin made of lemon juice and sugar, which tastes 
remarkably like lemonade when mixed with water because that's pretty 
much what it is.

27. Syrup of Lemon

Take lemon, after peeling its outer skin, press it and take a ratl of 
juice, and add as much of sugar. Cook it until it takes the form of a 
syrup. Its advantages are for the heat of bile; it cuts the thirst 
and binds the bowels.

Selene replied:
>Oxymel is the general term for vinegar-sweet syrups.  The specific one
>called Sekanjabin is very popular.
>Lookie here:  http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/cariadoc/drinks.html

As Selene implies, to be Sikanjubin it MUST have vinegar. I mention 
this because a number of SCAdians create beverage syrups that include 
all manner of fruits and/or spices and no vinegar and call them 
Sekanjabin. Without vinegar it's not Sikanjubin. Rather it's a basic 
beverage syrup which in Arabic is a sharbat.

In the recently published "Medieval cuisine of the Islamic world" by 
Lilia Zaouali, there is the one and only historical Sikanjubin recipe 
i've seen that includes fruit. In this case is Quince Sikanjubin, 
from the 13th C. Egyptian "Kanz al-fawa'id fi tanwi' al-mawa'id".

Quince Sikanjubin (pp. 133-134)

One needs the juice from Isfahan quinces or from another delicious 
and fragrant kind. Take one part [of juice], an equal amount of 
refined white sugar, and one-quarter of this same amount of strong 
vinegar, and make a thick syrup from it. If one wishes to add to it 
thin slices of quince, as the common people do, do this toward the 
end of the cooking... One may scent it with rosewater in which 
saffron and musk have been dissolved. Some add honey... others do not 
put in vinegar...
(the ellipsis (...) indicates a break in the original text)

Zaouali follows this in her book with another quince syrup recipe, 
also from the "Kanz", which is actually another sikanjubin...

Quince Syrup (p. 134)

Take some quinces, peel them, pit them, and cook them in water. When 
they have become tender it means they are half-cooked. Take them off 
the fire and reserve the cooking liquid. Dissolve some sugar in this 
liquid and add vinegar. Then the moment it begins to thicken, through 
in the quinces and bring them to a boil once or twice. Then take them 
off the fire, and add the juice of one or two limes, and scent with 
rose water.

And while we're on the topic of quince beverage syrups, here's one i 
made for a feast, which is NOT a sikanjubin, from a 14th century 
Arabic-language cookbook.

Laimun Safarjali - Lemon-Quince-Rosewater Syrup Beverage

One part quince juice and three parts filtered syrup, in both of 
which you have boiled pieces of quince until nearly done. They are 
taken up, and the syrup takes it consistency. To every pound of the 
whole you add two ounces of lemon juice. Then return the pieces of 
quince; they improve the consistency. It is scented with musk, 
saffron and rose-water and taken up and used.
(The Book of the Description of Familiar Foods, p. 442-443, "Medieval 
Arab Cookery")

My Recipe:
2 dozen quinces
5 to 8 pounds granulated white sugar
juice of 12 lemons
several capfuls rosewater, Cortas brand
1/2 tsp. saffron

1. Cut quinces in quarters. Core and remove flower and stem ends. Cut 
further into eighths (that is, each quince is ultimately cut in eight 
2. Put quinces in deep kettle, cover with water and turn fire to high.
3. Pour in 5 lb. sugar. Stir well.
4. When liquid begins to boil, reduce fire to medium and continue to 
simmer, stirring frequently so bottom of pan doesn't burn.
5. Do NOT mash quinces. I did and it was a BIG mistake. I did not get 
enough syrup, although the mashed quinces were delicious.
6. When liquid has thickened and has become a lovely amber-rose color 
- many hours later - remove from heat and allow to cool.
7. Soak saffron in rosewater while syrup is cooling.
8. When cool enough to manage, put a strainer over a deep bowl, and 
begin scooping out quinces and liquid. Allow to strain without 
mashing or pressing fruit. Remove resulting liquid to another large 
9. After you've drained the quinces well, and syrup has cooled, check 
the consistency and flavor. It should be somewhat syrupy and have a 
tart-sweet flavor. It doesn't need to be clear. In fact, the original 
recommends having some fruity bits in it, so you can add some mashed 
quince at this point. If syrup isn't sweet enough, put in kettle on 
high fire, add more sugar, stir well, bring to boil, then reduce to 
high simmer, and cook down a little more.
10. When syrup is thoroughly cooled, add lemon juice and rose water.
11. To drink, fill a pitcher about 2/3 full of water and add a bit of 
syrup. Taste. Add more syrup until you are satisfied (the commercial 
syrup is diluted 1 part syrup to 5 parts water). It should have a 
sweet-tart flavor, redolent of quinces, roses, and saffron.
NOTE: Since musk is rather expensive (and getting it involves some 
animal cruelty) i've never cooked with it.

BTW, Sadaf (a "Middle Eastern" food manufacturer and importer) sells 
bottled Quince & Lemon Syrup (it says Laimon-Safarjaliy on the label 
in Arabic). It does not contain any rosewater or saffron, and is 
nowhere near as delicious as home-made syrup.  But it's a lot less 
work :-) I recommend that if one purchases it, one adds rosewater - 
soak some saffron in the rosewater, if you feel up to it - and fresh 
lemon juice.
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

My LibraryThing

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