[Sca-cooks] Vinegar circa 9th c. CE + musk

David Walddon david at vastrepast.com
Fri Apr 20 21:31:16 PDT 2012


I have made period vinegar, from the ground up, and tested the acidity levels (chemically and with my palate). 
I get almost EXACTLY the same acid levels as modern wine vinegar - 5%. 

The taste is slightly different with more tannins, somewhat more acidic flavor with a sort of fruity palate that is way more complex than a modern wine vinegar let alone a white distilled vinegar (but obviously not truly more acidic since the testing came out the same). 

I think that this test would lead one to believe that the modern and medieval palate are/was different or that there is a preparation step of rinsing the meats or somehow lowering the acid level that is assumed but not written down RATHER than the acid level of medieval vinegar is different than modern vinegar. It could also be that these dishes were served in VERY small quantities with other things that were bland such as rice. Lots of different things that could be assumed, but having made the vinegar from the ground up the acid level is not IMHO the part that is in question. 

That said NONE of the vinegar recipes I have are Arabic. So could they be making less acidic vinegar? I don't think the acid level of the vinegar in the initial process is going to be much less (this is dependent on the secondary fermentation) but it could be that they are processing it third time by diluting it with something. A recipe for Arabic vinegar would be nice. FYI Vinegar must first be processed from liquid with sugar in it (often but not always juice) into alcohol and then once converted a secondary fermentation into vinegar occurs. 

I also believe that the addition of Musk would lead one to consider a palate change. 

I also am interested in a Musk or Ambergris substitute. HELP! 

There are some recipes I have been wanting to try and I can't find a good substitute. 


On Apr 20, 2012, at 3:18 PM, lilinah at earthlink.net wrote:

> Certain recipes in the Arabic language cookbooks feature cooking in wine vinegar. When i cooked one such recipe for a cooking competition, i diluted the vinegar with half as much water and some judges still thought it was too vinegary.
> I am considering cooking a version of Sikbaj for my upcoming Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq feast. It was considered something of the king of dishes. It involves cooking a wide range of meats in wine vinegar - with some spices, of course, and some other ingredients. One Sikbaj recipe involves beef + a whole lamb in kneeling position + a kid in hunks + a whole chicken + some pullets + quails + sparrows (and garnished with cheese). If i cook Sikbaj i'll do a simpler version that uses two unspecified kinds of meat - i'm thinking of lamb and beef.
> So once again i am wondering about the nature of vinegar 1,000 years ago. It seems to me it just had to be milder than our commercial standardized distilled vinegar, or some of these dishes cooked in vinegar would be less than delightful. I'm considering mixing wine vinegar with wine or raisin juice, so it won't lose as much flavor as it will mixed with water. Anyone know about earlier, probably undistilled, vinegars so i can make a reasonable ?
> Also, several Sikbaj recipes call for musk, which is largely unavailable and definitely unaffordable. I keep searching for a safe-to-eat substitute and the closest i've come are the mythical Australian musk life savers, which i've never seen, let alone tasted. Anyone have any ideas for food safe musk flavor - or know where i can order a packet of said life savers post haste?
> Urtatim
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