Dioscorides Vinum Melomel (Cydonites)

Making up for last week’s missing entry (I had a lot of fun on vacation), this week’s entry contains two recipes for the same product.

My Quince Source

I’ve already mentioned that there were at least 200 editions of Dioscorides’ work issued in 10 or more languages (Latin, Greek, German, Italian, French, Flemish, Dutch, Spanish, Czech, and English, listed roughly in order of first appearance) between 1500 and 1600. Publication activity tapered off significantly between 1600 and 1700, with about 40 editions; almost half of that activity was in the first 25 years of the century.

These editions took place in a complicated web of printers and authors; an additional aspect of the texts was use and re-use of woodcuts that were often made for one edition and then rented or sold and re-used elsewhere.

When annotations by various authors are added into the mix, the variety of material in various editions of Dioscorides is broad. It therefore is no surprise that the order and content of various sections within the typical mead recipes can vary. Today’s recipe is one such.

Vinum melomel, also called cydonites, is made with honey, water and quince. The recipe for quince mead is not clear in the 1516 Baptista/Barolo text I have been using, but appears more clearly in other editions, such as Vergilius, Marcus. 1518. Pedacii Dioscoridae Anazarbei de Medica materia Libriser. Book V Chapter XX

Confictur cydonite vinum hoc modo. Mala seminibus purgato: raporex modo ea concidito: tum in musti cadum mala pondo xii. Demissa triginta diebus dimittito: Ex eo tpe per colum traiectum vinum reponito. Alius praeterea conficiendi modus hic est. Tundito mala: tusaque exprimito: mox expressi succi sextariis decem mellis unum misceto: sique reponito. Habet hoc vinum spissandi vim: … Quinetiam malomel quod & Cydonite mel dicit hoc modo fit. Seminibus suis mala purgantus: & in eam copiam mellis coniiciuntur ut eo demersal obruantum. Mitescit hoc post annum mulso simile: iisdem accomodatum quibus & antedicta cydonite vini confection.

TRANSLATION (Laura Angotti): Cydonite wine is made in this manner. Remove the seeds from the quinces, chop them thinly, then place in a cadus of must 12 pondo. Let it sit for 30 days. Then filter it and set the wine aside. Others make this as follows. Take the juice from the quinces, and take ten sextari of this juice in 1 sextarii of honey. Set it aside. This has thick force. Furthemore malomel and Cydonite honey is made in this way. Clean the seeds from the quinces and place them in a lot of honey so they are submersed. After a year this will be like honey, which are made into the aforesaid Cydonties and wine confection.

Quince mead can therefore either be made from a 1:10 honey:quince juice mix, or from quinces soaked in honey for a year and then used to make mead.

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