[Sca-cooks] Butter

Doc edoard at medievalcookery.com
Tue Jun 24 08:42:16 PDT 2008

--- Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com> wrote:

> Or one could just read what Thomas Cogan has to say.
> Thomas Cogan, [1545?-1607] The haven of health is up
> as a searchable 
> text in the 1636 edition.
> There's an earlier 16th century edition here on the
> shelf, but this one 
> from EEBO-TCP is easy to
> search and find the references in.

Fabbo!  Thanks, Johnnae.  Not having access to EEBO is
a real bite in the butt.

> But here  is the passage  for Drummond and Wilson--
> Pages 181-182

Let's see if we can make sense of this narrative ...

> The necessity of Butter in dressing of meates, in
> making of salves and 
> oyntments, I overpasse,

Butter is important for dressing (preserving?) meats,
and making salves and ointments.

> yet would I wish that such
> as have children to 
> bring up, would not bee without May Butter in their
> houses. 

Everyone with children should have May Butter at home.

> It is to bee 
> made chiefly in May, or in the heat of the yeare, by
> setting Butter new 
> made without salt, so much as you list in a platter,
> open to the Sunne 
> in faire weather for certaine daies, untill it bee
> sufficiently 
> clarified, and altered in colour, which will be in
> twelve or fourteene 
> daies, if there be faire Sunne shining. 

It's made by putting fresh, unsalted butter out in the
spring sun until it is clarified and changes color -
12 to 14 days.

>This is of
> marvellous vertue in 
> any exulceration, 

It's good for treating sores.

> and I have knowne the wilde fire
> healed therewith, 
>  being incorporate with Sage leaves.

It's also good for fever (?) when mixed with sage.

> And for the
> ease of Infants to 
> bring forth their teeth,  Galen adviseth us to rubbe
> their gummes 
> oftentimes with fresh Butter, and thinketh it of no
> lesse force than 
> Hony, for that purpose. 

Galen says that *fresh* butter rubbed on the gums of
teething children is just as good as honey.

> Of the making of Butter is
> left a kinde of whey, ...

The rest seems to be about whey/buttermilk and what
can be done about it.

So when talking about butter in general, Cogan
mentions how to make May Butter by ageing it in the
sun for 12 to 14 days, and that it's notably good in
topical (?) medicines for ulcers and fevers (?).

Drummond/Wilson interprets this as butter being left
out until it's "very rancid", and feeding it to
children as a way of preventing rickets.  I still need
to check the exact quote in Drummond as I suspect
that's where rickets came into play (rickets was a big
concern in WWII England).

I know it takes a good while for butter to go rancid -
we left the butter out in a butter dish at room
temperature all the time when I was growing up, and I
don't recall it ever going off.  Mind you it had to be
covered to keep the cat from eating it, and since we
had a big family we probably went through it pretty

Still, this makes me wonder.  I'm trying to figure out
how to leave butter out in sunlight and still keep the
critters out of it.

- Doc


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