[Sca-cooks] Sugar (was Re: Sca-cooks Digest, Vol 8, Issue 79)

Daniel Myers edoard at medievalcookery.com
Mon Jan 1 14:53:20 PST 2007

On Jan 1, 2007, at 5:04 PM, Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius wrote:
> One other thing it might be worth remembering is that not all
> medieval recipe sources are for royal households (all tend to be for
> the well-off, but not necessarily for more than the middle class),
> but you can still map out some dishes from the 14th, 15th, 16th and
> 17th centuries and see how the character of the same named dishes has
> changed. For example, you may find 14th century recipes from England
> and France for preserved quinces that call for quinces and honey. The
> same recipe from the 15th century might (and in the case of this
> example, does) call for quinces, and a mixture of honey and sugar.
> Those same recipes are represented by 16th and 17th century sources,
> but they often leave out the honey entirely.

Interesting suggestion!  A quick look at just the quince marmalade  
recipes I could easily get my hands on shows the following:

Le Menagier de Paris (France, 1393)  -  honey (no stated quantity or  

Libro di cucina/ Libro per cuoco (Italy, ca 1400)  -  3 lbs. honey  
(optional 6 oz. sugar)

A Treatise of Portuguese Cuisine from the 15th Century  -  2.5 kg  
sugar (for 2 kg fruit)

The Good Housewife's Jewell (England, 1596)  -  4 lbs. sugar  
(includes instructions for clarifying)

Delights for Ladies (England, 1609)  -  2 lbs. sugar (for 3 lbs. fruit)

The English Housewife (England, 1615)  -  1 lb. sugar (for 1 lb. fruit)

The only conclusions I can quickly draw from this are that sugar was  
considered too valuable to be used to preserve quince before the  
fifteenth century, and that after 1400 it was probably valued less  
than marmalade.

- Doc

219. Take tendyr brede, an let it kele, an than choppe hem, an caste  
ther-to Percely, Sawge, powder Pepyr, Clowys, Maces, Vynegre, and a  
lytyl Red wyne caste there-to, an latte it boyle tyl it be y-now, and  
dresse it forth in a-nother dyshe with fayre hot water.  [The Boke of  

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