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Thread: 13th Century Anglo-Saxon Mead Recipe

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    13th Century Anglo-Saxon Mead Recipe

    One of the oldest known Anglo-Saxon mead recipes comes from Tractatus de Magnetate et Operationibus eius (a thirteenth-century letter on the magnet by Petrus Peregrinus) ...

    Name:  Mead.jpg
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    The translation is as follows ...

    ffor to make mede. Tak .i. galoun of fyne hony and to žat .4. galouns of water and hete žat water til it be as lengh žanne dissolue že hony in že water. thanne set hem ouer že fier & let hem boyle and ever scomme it as longe as any filthe rysith žer on. and žanne tak it doun of že fier and let it kole in ožer vesselle til it be as kold as melk whan it komith from že koow. than tak drestis of že fynest ale or elles berme and kast in to že water & že hony. and stere al wel to gedre but ferst loke er žu put žy berme in. that že water with že hony be put in a fayr stonde & žanne put in žy berme or elles ži drestis for žat is best & stere wel to gedre/ and ley straw or elles clothis a bowte že vessel & a boue gif že wedir be kolde and so let it stande .3. dayes & .3. nygthis gif že wedir be kold And gif it be hoot wedir .i. day and .1. nyght is a nogh at že fulle But ever after .i. hour or .2. at že moste a say žer of and gif žu wilt have it swete tak it že sonere from že drestis & gif žu wilt have it scharpe let it stand že lenger žer with. Thanne draw it from že drestis as cler as žu may in to an ožer vessel clene & let it stonde .1. nyght or .2. & žanne draw it in to an ožer clene vessel & serve it forth. And gif žu wilt make mede eglyn. tak sauge .ysope. rosmaryne. Egre- moyne./ saxefrage. betayne./ centorye. lunarie/ hert- is tonge./ Tyme./ marubium album. herbe jon./ of eche of an handful gif žu make .12. galouns and gif žu mak lesse tak že less of herbis. and to .4. galouns of ži mater .i. galoun of drestis.

    This roughly translates to ...

    "For to make mead. Take 1 gallon of fine honey and to that 4 gallons of water and heat that water til it be as lengh [?]. Then dissolve the honey in the water, then set them over the fire and let them boil and ever scum it as long as any filth rises thereon. Then take it down off the fire and let it cool in another vessel til it be as cold as milk when it comes from the cow. Then take lees from the finest ale or else yeast and cast it into the water and honey and stir all well together, but first look before putting your yeast in that the water with the honey be put in a clean tub and then put in your yeast or else the lees for that is best and stir well together. Lay straw or else cloths about the vessel and above if the weather is cold and so let it stand 3 days and 3 nights if the weather is cold. And if it is hot weather, 1 day and 1 night is enough at the full. But ever after 1 hour or 2 at the most assay thereof and if you will have it sweet take it the sooner from the lees and if you will have it sharp let it stand the longer therewith. Then draw it from the lees as clear as you may into another vessel clean and let it stand 1 night or 2 and then draw it into another clean vessel and serve it forth."

    "The original recipe uses some old terms. "Stonde" is found in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) under the entry "stand", meaning an open barrel set on end or a tub. "Drasts", which the OED dates back to AD 1000, means dregs or lees. Adding the lees of a previously brewed batch to start a new batch is common practice even today. It is interesting to note the recommendation to insulate the fermenting vessel if the weather is cold. Of further interest is the number of vessels used. Transferring to another vessel to cool will speed the cooling process because the new vessel is presumably room temperature. Transferring it again (presumably by pouring it) into another vessel will also serve to aerate the mixture before adding the yeast, which as modern brewers know will help the growing conditions of the yeast."

    Sources: http://www.greydragon.org/library/13thCenturyMead.html
    http://www.uab.edu/reynolds/images/tractatus/20r.jpg
    Til įrs ok frišar

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    I shall be making some mead soon, and a variety of melomels. Should make some good Yule gifts if I don't drink them all before hand!

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    What I read from Francis Owen in The Germanic People: Their Origin Expansion & Culture, is that mead was cultivated first in England before becoming a luxury prize in Denmark and elsewhere among Scandinavians. For some reason, beekeeping was not a practice in the outside the Isles, but ale was typical everywhere until hops changed it into beer and mead no longer was served. The profit of mead must not have outweighed the risks of stings, compared with growing another crop.

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