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The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened on Project Gutenberg

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Arjan

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wayneb said:
Thanks, Arjan! I have read excerpts of this in the past (Who here hasn't?), but it is great to have the complete document transcribed as an online reference.
yeah, i remembered searching for it months ago, and repeated the search just days ago and suddenly this one popped up. I always had the impression he wrote about a "few" meads.. didnt expect it to be this many :)
Anyway, its pretty fun to read
 

Summersolstice

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I was reading in the mead section of an English wine forum a couple of months ago and one of the members was bemoaning the fact that he had no idea about references in US forums regarding honey varietals. He had never heard of them and was unsure about substitutions and was frustrated because he was having problems duplicating recipes. Now I know how he felt after reading Sir Kenelm Digby Knight's references to some of the herbs and spices he used. "Of Harts-tongue, Liverwort a peck; Ribwort half a peck, of Eglantine with the Roots, a good quantity; Wormwood as much as you can gripe in two hands; and of Sorrel, Mead-sutt Bettony with the Roots, Blew-bottles with the Roots, the like quantity; of Eye-bright two handfuls, Wood-bind one handful." WTF?
 

wayneb

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ROTFL!!! Yeah, I have no idea either, but a friend of mine is an herbalist so I'll ask her what these are. I'm pretty sure there are common contemporary names for all of these -- at least I hope so.

Although I am interested in historical recipes, I'm not sure I'd want to duplicate many (or any) of these metheglyns. After all, they were produced as medicinals more than for drinking enjoyment. You know there has to be a good reason for the tradition we have here in the "New World," that medicines have to taste bad to be good! :laughing7:
 

Summersolstice

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I looked at the Wiki entry for the first item listed: Hart's-tongue - "This fern had use in folk medicine as a spleen tonic." Let's see... Tasty? Maybe, but is it good for the spleen? Just what I'm looking for when I'm deciding on metheglin ingredients! I didn't bother checking the rest...
 

Oskaar

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Hey, where's the ass of rat, essence of zombie woof and the dust of the Grand Wazoo??

:icon_puke_r: :icon_puke_l: :icon_puke_r: :icon_puke_l: :icon_puke_r: :icon_puke_l:


Oskaar :puke:
 

skunkboy

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"A Sip Through Time" by Cindy Renfrow has a large collection of old recipes, along with their probable
modern components. It also has some information in the back as the what some of the odd ingrediants are.

eglantine = sweet briar : hip-rose, hip-brier
eyebright = euphrasia officinalis and related species; Scrophulariaceace
blue bottle = 1) grape hyacinth; 2) corn-flower
 

Arjan

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Blew-bottle is an different way of writing Blue bottle.

some references below

Blue Bottle (Corne-Floure)
The Description.


The great Blew-Bottle hath long leaves smooth, soft, downy, and sharp pointed: among the leaves rise up crooked and pretty thicke branches, chamfered, furrowed, and garnished with such leaves as are next the ground: on the tops wherof stand faire blew flours tending to purple, consisting of divers little flours, set in a scaly huske or knap like those of Knapweed: the seed is rough or bearded at one end, smooth at the other and shining: the root is tough and long lasting (contrary to the rest of the Corne-floures) and groweth yearly into new shoots whereby it greatly encreaseth.


2 The common Corn-floure hath leaves spred upon the ground, of a whitish green colour, somwhat hackt or cut in the edges like those of corne Scabious: among which riseth up a stalke divided into divers small branches, whereon do grow long leaves of an overworne green colour, with few cuts or none at all. The floures grow at the top of the stalks, of a blew colour, consisting of many smal floures set in a scaly or chaffie head like those of the Knapweeds: the seed is smooth, bright shining, and wrapped in a woolly or flocky matter. The root is small and single, and perisheth when it hath perfected his seed.

3 This Bottle is like to the last described in each respect, saving in the colour of the floures, which are purple, wherein consisteth the difference.

4 The fourth Bottle is also like the precedent, not differing in any point but in the floures; for as the last before mentioned are of a purple colour, contrariwise these are milke white, which sets forth the difference.

http://www.bookofherbs.com/b/Blue_Bottle_Co_rarde.htm


BLUE-BOTTLE (CENTAUREA CYANUS)

Family: Compositae

Bluebottle. Bluebow. Hurtsickle. Blue Cap.
(French) Bluet.
---Part Used---Flowers.


---Medicinal Action and Uses--

The flowers are the part used in modern herbal medicine and are considered to have tonic, stimulant and emmenagogue properties, with action similar to that of Blessed Thistle.

The powder or dried leaves is given with good success to those that are bruised by a fall, or have broken a vein inwardly, and void much blood at the mouth. Taken in the water of Plantain, Horsetail or the Greater Comfrey, it is a remedy against the poison of the scorpion and resisteth all venoms and poison. The seed or leaves taken in wine is good against the plague and all infectious diseases and in pestilential fevers. The juice put into wounds doth quickly solder up the lips of them together and heals ulcers and sores in the mouth. The juice dropped into the eyes takes away heat and inflammation.

http://www.russianherbs.net/herbs/BLUE-BOTTLE.htm
 

Jandra

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Hey Arjan,

Great link tot sir Kenelms closet. That's one big collection of recipes!

Thanks,
Jandra
 

pain

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Digby is great, but a hard read. I've got a printed version that I plan to put up that will allow searching through it....

If you want a good reference for historical meads, that also details the weirdly-named herbs, check out 'A Sip Through Time'. This is arguably one of the best printed references out there on making historical brews (it has beer, mead, cordials, punches, possets, etc.)

Cindy Renfrow, the author, is a long-time SCA member, and probably one of the most well-read people I know on brewing through history. My copy is dog-eared and mead-stained, but still one of my favorite references when I'm constructing mead recipes for my re-enacting demos at the Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, NC.
 

Gwir

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Vicky, I've heard that a sip through time has some unreliable info in it-- you'd know for sure-- is it true? or just period nazi bs?
also ive heard period mead will never be as good as modern techniques-- true or false?
btw brent and marc send hugs. :wave:
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
Hello Gwir,

I have not yet had the pleasure of tasting any period meads per se, but I will go out on a limb and say the answer to your second question is false. I have made traditional "whole hive" meads that used bee pollen for nutrients. I didn't boil them, but it comes pretty close to what our forbearers must have done - and they taste great. Mead would not have been memorialized in song, myth and poetry if it had not been of excellent quality using the techniques of that time. Furthermore, I don't think mead would have been the beverage of the gods if it hadn't been darned good using the production methods of the ancients.

What's more, the fundamental basis for good mead is good honey along with good water and good yeast. I am pretty sure you can use all of these in period recipes. If the fermentation management leads to a long slow fermentation, that may not be a bad thing. I would be willing to bet that there are some period mead makers that can produce award winning meads that can stand with the very best -the superb mead makers having always been able to produce superb meads.

I think the modern management tools provide the opportunity for more "average" mead makers (such as me) to produce a better product on average, and it may allow the superb mead makers to produce superb results more consistently.

Perhaps I'll get the opportunity to taste some superb period meads if anyone is willing to share. ;D
Then I will be able to make these statements unequivocally.
 

wayneb

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Medsen Fey said:
Perhaps I'll get the opportunity to taste some superb period meads if anyone is willing to share. ;D
Then I will be able to make these statements unequivocally.
Alright, Medsen. I pick up the gauntlet that you've so blatantly cast down! When I get around to bottling it, one bottle of Wolf Moon will have your name on it! (If you're wondering, check out my "Jiahu!..." posting in the Patrons' section. For those of you not patrons yet, here's another reason to consider subscribing -- access to all kinds of intriguing recipes and techniques are the best bennie of being a Patron here!)
 

doctajones

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:Looks enviously at Medsen:

Maybe if you wait for the second round you can get some of the batch where Wayne and all his neighbors all chew up and spit out the rice before fermentation!
 
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