Occo’s Hydromel

Our recipe this week goes back to basic hydromel. The recipe comes from this text. Occo, Adolf. (1575). Pharmacopoeia seu Medicamentarium pro Republica Augustana. Willerus: Johann Georg Werdenstein. Retrieved from Google Books https://books.google.com/books?id=YEA6AAAAcAAJ .See p.282 of the book for our recipe.

Adolf (Adolph, Adolphus) Occo (Occone, Occonius, Occonus) (1524-1606) was a physician and numismatist (coin collector). The portrait attached to this post was made some time after his death, and is from the collection of the Wellcome Library. He wrote both on coins and medicine. (see http://worldcat.org/identities/lccn-n88132177/ for some bibliographic information)

Adolf Occo

His Pharmacopia was typical of the times, a list of medical recipes. Often these medicines would be in a fermented base. This text contains a recipe for plain hydromel and one for hydromel compositum containing spices and herbs (next time).

The recipe for hydromel is fairly standard. This 1:8 ratio of honey to water is seen in a great many recipes, and may originate with the Greek writer Oribasius (4th century). In later texts, the 1:8 ratio is strongly associated with the physician known as Mesue. He is more properly Yuhanna ibn-Masawayah, a 7th-8th century Persian Christian Physician, who was parts of the flourishing medical establishment in that part of the world. He wrote several texts that were widely published, translated, and incorporated into other texts in the 15th and 16th century in western Europe. While this recipe is not attributed to him by Occo, it seems likely to be derived from Mesue’s writings.

1575 Occo Pharmacopoeia p.281 recipe for hydromel under section for decoctions.


Mellis libram unam.
Aquae pluviae vel fontis lib. octo.
Decoquantur donec Mel non amplius spumet.

TRANSLATION (Laura Angotti): Simple Hydromel

Recipe One libra honey, Rain water or spring 8 libra. Cook until the honey does not scum anymore.

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