The second recipe from UPenn Ms. Codex 252, known as the Maddison Family Receipt Book, is for lemon rosemary mead.
This manuscript is typical in containing both medical and culinary recipes. While some manuscripts are almost completely medical, or almost completely culinary, it is much more typical for them to contain both types of recipes, and sometimes also household instructions (making ink, cleaning clothes) or veterinary prescriptions (most often for horses, but not other farm animals, implying an interesting break in scope for such manuscripts). Also relatively common is for culinary recipes to be written from one side of the manuscript, and medical from the other end, with the book reversed.
Recipes for mead are often found in English language manuscripts near those for wines. Wines made from fruits (raspberries, gooseberries, currants, raisins, cherries, elderberries, mulberries, etc.) or flowers (cowslip, elder, clove gilliflowers, etc.) with sugar added to provide additional fermentables, become commonplace in the 17th century. Recipes for fruit wines or with sugar added for additional fermentables are not generally seen prior to the 17th century.
Lemon Rosemary Mead in the Fermenter
While rosemary is a common mead addition from the earliest flavored meads, I have not seen citrus (lemon and orange) in recipes dated prior to 1600, but they become relatively common in the 17th century. This recipe contains an uncommon method to extract flavor from the additions of pouring the boiling wort over the lemons and rosemary.
Hill (17th c.) (1660) on page 115[=108] instructs:
To make mead
Tak such a quantity of water as you intend to make and boyle it over night for an houer next morning put in so much honey as will bear an egge then boyle it till the scum rises very well then take it of the fire and take six lemons Cutt them round Rhines an all an tak it of the fire and halfe a handfull of Rosmary an put the Lemons an Rosemary into the vessell when you work the drincke then put some yest the hot Liquer upon them and let it stand while its cold then put some yest to it and work it upp then putt it into a burill and let it stand in it for a fortnight and then bottell it and will be fit to drinck in a month or lesse.
This recipe is similar to last week’s, when I made it it had an OG of 1.11. The flavor is very refreshing with lemon, rosemary, and honey all present. The drink was indeed ready to drink quite quickly (I first drank it at about two months). It also appears to have some legs, I had some a few weeks ago after it had been in the bottle for about a year, and it remained bright and fresh, and nicely carbonated. I think of this as a summer drink. This is definitely on my list of recipes I want to make again.
Photo credit Laura Angotti
Hill, Martyn. 17th c. Recipe Book. MS Codex 252. Retrieved from University of Pennsylvania http://hdl.library.upenn.edu/1017/d/medren/9915808403503681