[Sca-cooks] Tenth Century Mead Recipes

Craig Daniel teucer at pobox.com
Wed Aug 29 19:22:52 PDT 2012

On Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 10:18 PM, Stefan li Rous
<StefanliRous at austin.rr.com> wrote:
> Cariadoc said:
> <<< There are a lot of recipes, but here's one: >>>
> Thank you. I'd love to see more.
> <<< *A Recipe for mead without raisins:* (p 470) >>>
> Interesting. *without raisins*! Does that imply that the regular version of this drink is *with* raisins?
> Although the raisins don't seem to actually be mentioned in the recipe.
> <<< Put 50 ratls (50 pounds) honey in a pot and add 50 ratls (100 cups)
> water. Let it boil until one third if the liquid evaporates, which
> amounts to 33 ratls.>>>
> The recipe actually does the math for you and indicates this reduction amount?  A bit different from "take enough" or similar non-specific measurements in most period recipes.

I've noticed actual quantities are more common in near eastern recipes
than in European ones.

> <<< At this point, add to the pot 2 mithqals (9 grams)
> saffron and 2 dirhems (6 grams) mastic. Pour into the pot 5 ratls (10
> cups) cold water. >>>
> Saffron? Not what I would think of to add to a sweet drink.
> <<< Empty the liquid into glass jars. Set them aside in a shaded place for
> 50 days after which you seal them with mud. Use the wine in winter by
> mixing one part of it with two parts of musk-flavored water. It will be
> a splendid drink. >>>
> Does this imply that they considered the water safe to drink? Or is this like mixing water in with wine, where the alcohol gives some protection? But then we do have the other sekanjaban type drinks from the middle east that use water without boiling it.

The idea among Europeans that water is unsafe to drink actually has
little to do with the microbiology of the issue. A typical wine is
just strong enough to sanitize itself, and not strong enough to
sterilize water it's being mixed with. I'm not convinced the concern
about drinking water was justified, or they would have found ways to
actually substantially mitigate the risk of illness. (And you'll find
a lot of mention of favoring rainwater for brewing and so presumably
also for watering wine with; that's generally more sterile than
getting your water from a river or something.)

Willing to be corrected on this, of course; the sanitation of water
isn't something I've looked into in any detail at all.

 - Jaume

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