[Sca-cooks] Clary Sage Flowers - Source

Huette von Ahrens ahrenshav at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 21 16:41:29 PDT 2008

Here are two "clary" definitions from Cindy Renfrow's website:

Clarry, clarre = a beverage made of mixed wines with honey and spices 

Clary =Salvia sclarea L., Labiatae, also called Clear Eyes.  Clary is a relative of sage, and was once much used as a seasoning in foods and beverages.  Culpeper notes (p. 88) "the seeds or leaves taken in wine, provoketh to venery... the juice of the herb in ale or beer, and drank, promotes the courses."  (TTEM) 

If you could tell us which recipe that "clary wine" is needed for, it would help us to figure out which clary is being called for.

I would be careful about making a wine from clary sage.  I found this on an online herbal website:


"History: The Romans called it sclarea, from claurus, or “clear,” because they used it as an eyewash. The practice of German merchants of adding clary and elder flowers to Rhine wine to make it imitate a good Muscatel was so common that Germans still call the herb Muskateller Salbei and the English know it as Muscatel Sage. Clary sometimes replaced hops in beer to produce an enhanced state of intoxication and exhilaration, although this reportedly was often followed by a severe headache. It was considered a 12 th-century aphrodisiac."


"Toxicity: non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitizing. Avoid during pregnancy. Do not use clary sage oil while drinking alcohol, it can induce a narcotic effect and exaggerate drunkenness."

This website does have this recipe:

Clary Wine
10 gallons water
35 lb loaf sugar
12 eggs
2 pecks of clary blossoms
1 pint good new yeast
Mix sugar, water and well-beaten egg whites. Let boil gently for 1/2 hour, skimming until the mixture is quite clear. Let stand until cold. Pour into a cask, add 2 pecks of clary blossoms stripped from the stalk and 1 pint of yeast. Stir the wine three times a day for five days. Stop it up, and let stand for twelve months. It may be bottled at the end of six months if perfectly clear.

So, even if you started making clary wine today, it wouldn't be ready for a year, according to this recipe.

>From the Prospect Books glossary:


CLARRETT, clarret, claret, wine: claret. Although the usage that invariably linked claret to the wines of Bordeaux was current from about the year 1600 (OED), the earlier meaning, which distinguished wines of a claret colour (orange or light red, i.e. the French clairet) from white or fully red wines, was still found. See, for instance, the use in Receipt 129 where the maker of cherry wine is to add ‘white or clarrett wine into each bottle’. Hess has a useful discussion of this point. (John Evelyn, Cook, C17) 

CLARY, 6, 172. Clary, Salvia sclarea, was used as a remedy for eye complaints (claws being the Latin word for clear), but also had culinary uses. It is slightly bitter and was used to add flavour to wine. Clary fritters, i e clary leaves fried in batter, were featured regularly in 17th century cookery books. (Robert May, 1660/1685) 

CLARY, clarie: clary, Salvia sclarea. Clary leaf fritters are specified in Receipt 311. Clary was otherwise used medicinally. (John Evelyn, Cook, C17) 

CLARY: Salvia Sclarea. The herb in flower was used to make a sweet wine with a muscatel flavour. Oil of clary is a perfume fixative. (John Nott, 1726) 

CLARY LEAVES: the crinkled leaves of Salvia sciarea, or other plants such as celandine and species of fennel. (Richard Bradley, 1736) 

CLARY; CLARYE FRITTERS, 82; CLARYE LEAVES. Clary, the herb Salvia sclarea. Apothecaries interpreted the name as a form of ‘clear-eye’ and applied it to other plants which were thought to be beneficial to the eyes. It was more common in the 18th century to find recipes for clary wine than for clary fritters. Rabisha (1682) gave a longer recipe, To Fry Clary, which would also have produced fritters of a kind, but with an egg batter.(Glasse, 1747) 

>From The Frugal Housewife, or Complete Woman Cook
by Sussannah Carter - 1803 


To make Clary Wine.
Take twenty-four pounds of Malaga raisins, pick them and chop them very small, put them in a tub, and to each pound a quart of water; let them steep ten or eleven days, stirring it twice every day; you must keep it covered close all the while; then strain it off and put it into a vessel, and about half a peck of the tops of clary when it is in blossom; stop it close for six weeks, and then bottle it off; in two or three months it is fit to drink. It is apt to have a great settlement at bottom; therefore it is best to draw it off by plugs, or tap it pretty high.

I hope that this helps.


> From: Amy Cooper <amy.s.cooper at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Clary Sage Flowers - Source
> To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>
> Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 12:43 PM
> While I don't have the books with me at work, I do know
> where I had
> heard of Clary Wine first myself was in either To Take A
> Thousand
> Eggs, or in A Sip Through Time. I wanted to make it, too,
> but never
> was able to find a source for just the flower heads, and I
> knew better
> than to try to grow them myself!
> Ilsebet


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