I settled on a unifying concept for my (first?) ‘Mystery of Mead’ book a few months ago. I’m thrilled with it. But … it has some complicated topics and requires a lot of work.
In order to achieve some more immediate gratification, I decided to shift to a project with a shorter publication time-line. Much shorter than growing your own orchard, as detailed in the book this week’s recipe comes from.
Orchard from Lawson A New Orchard and Garden
Cider and Perry in England to 1700: A Collection of Material from over 100 Primary and Selected Secondary Sources. Historical Brewing Sourcebook I is currently being edited prior to formatting and publication. I expect to publish in June or July. It contains information extracted from over 100 sources, dated c. 1160 – 1700. The information ranges from mentions of cider in early court documents, to detailed cider/perry specific texts. The excerpts range from a dozen words to thousands; the text will be about 300 pages.
The ‘Historical Brewing Sourcebooks’ series is intended to address the lack of accessible and verified information about historical brewing by finding, verifying, gathering, and publishing it. Every source has a date and relies on review of the original document (by myself or another author).
Because recipes are not redacted, geopolitical and social context is not established, and no effort is made to connect the dots or draw general conclusions, the preparation for publication is straightforward. These volumes will provide some context and high-level summarization. Sources will be translated into English as required.
Historical Brewing Sourcebook II: Cider and Perry in Mainland Europe to 1700 will follow. It focuses on 3 specific geographic centers for production of cider and perry: Normandy/Brittany, Bay of Biscay (Spain, southwest France, Portugal), and Switzerland/Germany/Austria, but also includes information not clearly associated with these three locations. It will also include about 100 sources.
The information presented in these volumes is substantially public domain. The value to the reader is in the significant time and effort to find, acquire, verify, review, transcribe, and compile the material as well as in the translation, organization, and summarization for easier use.
After cider and perry I have some mead topics under development for the Historical Brewing Sourcebook series, mostly focused on recipes.
The recipe of the week this week is extracted from Historical Brewing Sourcebook I. It comes from William Lawson’s 1626 edition of A New Orchard and Garden, which focuses primarily on the process of creating and maintaining an orchard, Lawson (1626) discusses making cider and perry:
In France and some other Countries, and in England, they make great use of Cydar and Perry thus made: Dresse every Apple, the stalke, upper end, and all galls away: stampe them, and straine them, and within 24. houres tunne them up into cleane, sweet, and sound vessels, for feare of evill ayre, which they will readily take: and if you hang a poake full of Cloves, Mace, Nutmegs, Cinamon, Ginger, and pils of Lemmons in the midst of the vessel, it will make it as wholesome and pleasant as wine. The like usage doth Perry require. These drinks are very wholesome, they coole, purge, and prevent hot Agues. But I leave this skill to Physicians. (p.36)
‘Illustration of an orchard’. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY