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

Nick Sasso Njs at mccalla.com
Tue Feb 2 06:48:51 PST 1999


Lady Peyton;

Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply and information.  I would
truly be interested in references to using fermentation of juices as a
means of preservation.  Please post any so I may add to my files.  I
am sorely lacking in that sort of information and sourcework. 

My sources imply that fermentables were used as such instead of
preservation.  Things like barley had to be balanced between
fermentation and use as a food source because fermentation took away
the food value of the starches and, to a much smaller extent,
proteins.  The nutritional content of foods may not have been common
knowledge, but people knew that eating exclusively gruel of grain
would sustain you while the same of beer would eventually kill you.

Dried fruits were dried in order to provide nutrition of those items
over extended time frames (LeMenagier references dried fruits and
meats to extend life).  Fermentation has not been mentioned in the
same vain in what I have read of the food sources in western Europe. 
That is why such a reference would be invaluable to my study.

I have Toussant-Samat's book and use it a basis for much of my inquiry
into period foodstuff's.   It is a wonderful starting point to find
out if a food item of some sort was liklely available.  The one
weakness that I find with that source is that it does not delineate
species of agricultural products.  There are very important
differences in some of what we know as fruits and what would have been
available to Middle Ages Europe: strawberries, melons, barley, grapes
varietals, apple varietals, broccoli, tomatoes, and peaches are all
examples of names for food that are the same, but are not the same
food product we get at our farmers' markets.  

Keep up your enthisiastic work, and keep pushing me!  Thanks again.

pace e bene,

niccolo difrancesco

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
perry.  

-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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