hist-brewing: Retro-documentation (was Grape and Peach Wine Recipe)

Beth Ann Snead ladypeyton at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 1 17:10:08 PST 1999

> You have just experienced the snag of Retro-
> documenting a project:  creating something and 
> then trying to go find documentation to validate
> the effort.  It is treacherous at best.  I often find
> that logical steps are less systematic and more tenuous when done in
> this fashion.

Well spoken.  There's no reason in the world that everything we, as
brewer's and vinters, make has to be validated as period.  Before you
even start your next project decide for yourself what you want the end
result to be.  Is it something to take to events and hand around to
your friends?  Don't sweat the documentation.  Is it something you
want to enter into a competition?  Then the *first* thing you have to
do is find a recipe or a source.  

> The suggestion that making wine was a 
> preservation method is more than most brewers &
> vintners should concede in any reasonable entry.
> There are some preservations that are sort of quasi
>  fermentations that you can document (yoghurts, 
> cheeses, fermented sauces), but they tend to be 
> preparations of whole foods and not the juices.  
> Fruits were most often dried or salted for 
> preservation in the sources I've read (Le Menagier, 
> Hugh Platt, Apicius).  Some may pack in a brine or 
> wine to steep, but assert it was to create wine goes 
> a little beyond what we can say with confidence 
> about wine and foods.

Not to imply that I would have ever actually tried using my suggestion
in a competition, but, fermentation WAS a preservation technique. 
Ancients found that fermented grape juice made the juice last longer
before it spoiled and they experimented and encouraged it to do so
under controlled conditions so they could repeat the process at will. 
Was that the preservation technique Pliny was referring to?  Probably
not.  However, apples were preserved by drying *and* by cidering. 
They weren't salted.  Same with grapes; preserved by either drying
them *or* making them into wine.  Pears; same way.  Even though a
specific recipe can't be sourced, we know that back as far as the
Romans they were preserved in either dried form or as pear wine or

-The origins of the peach start in China in the third millenium B.C.
-It then crossed Persia reaching Rome in the time of Augustus.  They
called it the Persian apple 
-Pliny mentioned several varieties and complained they gave more juice
than flavor and that although it was very watery, it induced thirst.
(reasons that it may NOT have been made into wine?)  A fresco from
Herculaneum, now in the museum of Naples, shows peaches.  One has a
bite taken out of it and it rests by a glass carafe half full of water.
-The peach was also cultivated in Germany during the same time period.
-Charlemagne brought the peach tree to France.

(sources Toussaint-Samat's _History of Food_ and Root's _Food_)

Beth Ann
SCA:  Lady Peyton

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