hist-brewing: Hydrometers

OxladeMac at aol.com OxladeMac at aol.com
Tue Jan 18 16:01:08 PST 2000

In a message dated 1/18/00 1:23:26 PM Central Standard Time, 
mastergoodwine at alltel.net writes:

<< Apparently after 1559.  Another secondary source I have says 1800 but does 
 give specifics.  I think I saw the inventor's name in a dictionary like an 
 one time but I no longer have that info. The Closet of Sir Kinelm Digby 
 in 1669 has multiple recipes that use eggs comparing the amount that is above
 the water to coins of the time giving a scale of sorts.  He was quite the 
 maker and alchemist as well.  I am sure if Hydrometers were known to him he
 would have wanted and used one.  He comments on using new laid hen's eggs and
 also suggests in one recipe to use several and take an average.  He also says
 they needed to be fresh and makes a comment like "An egg a fortnight old 
 as high as (?some coin) while a fresh one floats only as high as a(?some 
 coin)"  ...So they knew that egg density changed.
 Please let me know on any more info you find.
 Thanks >>

I posted the original question to fill in a hole in a paper I am preparing on 
the application of eggs as hydrometers.  The paper's scope is to answer one 
question - are eggs repeatable and reliable?  Are they fit for use as a 
hydrometer?  The conclusion that I came to was that store bought eggs are not 
repeatable in any sense of the word.  I am currently seeking out local 
farmers who don't use dietary supplements for thier chickens who might be 
able to give me "fresh" eggs.  Hopefully these eggs will be more 
representative of what they would have used in period.  I will try to repeat 
the experiment and see how much the results improve.  I also intend to run a 
secondary experiment to determine at what rate the eggs performance degrades. 

Apparently I did not read Digbie close enough.  I've seen the references to 
eggs being used, but not the comments on egg age.  I will have to go 
searching for these references.

I will probably end up publishing the results of these experiments.  I'm not 
sure wether I will do it in pieces, or wait until I've got it all done.  (It 
may be a while for me to find an acceptable source of eggs.)  At the present 
point in time, I was planning on submitting it to either Nathi O'Peatain and 
Lord Eadric Anstapa for publishing on the SCA_Brew web page 
(http://sca_brew.homestead.com) or to Greg Lindahl for publishing on the 
Medieval/Renaissence homepage (http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/brewing.html).  
This is, of course, assuming either party wants to publish it!

Thanks everyone for the help

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