Occo Hydromel Compositum 1575

The last post was a plain mead or hydromel (honey and water only). Roughly 20% of the recipes I have cataloged to date are for plain mead. That does not mean they are devoid of interest, the proportions of honey, fermentation containers (such as wood casks used for wine), sources of honey (honet, combs, a combination), and different yeast still mean that plain meads are a complex topic.

The source for the hydromel recipe also contains a second mead recipe, this one more complex.

The recipe uses, among other things, licorice and coriander. Licorice, shown attached in an illustration from Gerard’s 1633 herbal (courtesy of the Wellcome Collection) was used, among other things, to clear the chest and lungs. Coriander, was used, among other things, to bring on childbirth, as shown in this 13th century manuscript Apollodorus de Herbis (also courtesy of the Wellcome Collection).

Occo, 1575 provides a recipe for Hydromel Compositum:

R. Aquae fontis lib. viginti.
Mellis despumati lib. unam.
Origani ana pugillum semis.
Coriandri ana drach. unam.
Glycyrrhizae drach. duas.
Cinamomi drach. unam semis.
Bulliant ad consumptionem quartae partis, & colentur.

This is relatively easy to translate. My translation is:

Recipe: Spring water 20 libra.
Scummed honey 1 libra.
oregano of each half a handful.
coriander, of each one dram.
Licorice 2 dram.
Cinnamon, 1 ½ dram.
Boil to the consumption of a quarter part and strain.

Using a libra of 330 grams, the total volume here is about 1 ¾ gallon to start, a bit under 1 ½ gallon after boiling. The drink will not be very strong, asthere is less than a pound of honey in that 1 ½ gallons of liquid. While I have not done a solid analysis, I think this lesser sugar concentration may be reasonably typical for recipes that are medicinal in nature, and a plausible argument could be made that these are potentially made and dispensed by the pharmacist fairly immediately after concocting and without much fermentation.

A dram is close to 4 grams, we have ¾ of an ounce of the spices (anise, coriander, licorice and cinnamon), which boiled for the approximately hour and a half to two hours required to reduce the volume by 25% would probably impart a lot of flavor.

That said, the recipe is an interesting one. The anise and licorice seem like an interesting combination.

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