Dioscorides Vinum Apites

The bad news is I missed a week. The good news is, this week’s recipe could be argued to be 4 recipes in one.

We are near the end of our Dioscorides mead recipes. One more after this.

1516 Baptista/Barolo Book V Vinum Apites Ovias Mespilites: Certeatites DCCCLXIIII

Vinum Apites Cidonitae modo conitur: e piris que non admodum matura sint. Eadem ratione fit siliquis & Sorbo & Mespilo. Astringent omnia hae: acerba gustu: amica stomach: rheumatismos intus oes reprimunt.

TRANSLATION (Laura Angotti): Apites wine is made like Cydonites. From pears that are not quite ripe. By the same way it is made of carob, sorb apple (service), and medlar. These are all astringent, with a bitter taste. They are friendly to the stomach …

If you go back, you might recall that the cydonites quince mead recipe in the 1516 Baptista Dioscorides did not provide a clear path to mead. But again, by referring to another edition from the same time period, we got a mead made from 10 parts juice to one part honey, or from the fruit soaked in honey for a year and then mixed 1 part the honey mixture to 2 parts water.

Here we get to substitute pears, medlars, service or carob for the quince. Each of these fruits offers problems for the modern brewer (particularly those in the US) as follows:

  • Pears seems straightforward, but the pears used to make alcoholic beverages bear little resemblance to the pears readily available today. My effort to re-create this drink, using modern pear juice had little flavor and never clarified. I attribute this to the texture and lack of tannin and acidity in eating pears compared to brewing pears.
  • Medlars are related to apples, quinces, and pears. The fruits are let to sit to soften and complete ripening in a process called bletting before use, appearing spoiled when suited to use.
  • Service, from the service tree or sorb tree, are another uncommon fruit, also very astringent until bletted.
  • Carob does not fit with the other three choices here. The water content of carob is low enough that it is not plausible that a meaningful amount of juice could be pressed from it. A juice could be made by soaking the carob in honey or water, but no such process is indicated here.

Service (Sorb Apples) and Medlars

This recipe leaves us with a starting point for 4 drinks, but an unclear path forward. There is inherent promise of some unique flavors, but a significant challenge in building recipes from both the ingredients and process standpoints.

Picture of Medlar: Andrew Dunne. Sorb apple: BotBln

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