hist-brewing: RE: Distillation

Bruce R. Gordon obsidian at raex.com
Thu Aug 30 19:59:54 PDT 2001

     Another recipe for the same stuff, slightly later period than that 
below (c. 1400-1450), actually gives some details into how to distill:

For to make aqua vite. - Take sauge and fynel-rotes and persely-rotes 
and rosmaryne and tyme and lauendre of euerech lyche moche and wasche 
hem and drye hem after and wenne þey ben drye, grynde hem a lytel in a 
morter and strawe þer-on a lytel salte, and putte hyt in þe body of þe 
styllatorye and helde þer-on wyne, reed oþer whyghte, þene putte hyt in 
a potte fulle of asckes ouer ze forney and make so softe fuyre þer-vnder 
þat wen ze styllatory by-gin to dropp, loke þat hyt dropp no fastur þan 
þou myste seyghe on, two, þre, by-twene þe droppys.
     And so do stylle hyt al to-gedre; þenne take þye water þat is 
distillyd, and distyllet aghen 3yf þou wolte and vse þat of euer[e]ch 
day a lytel spone-ful fastyng.

Translation: [To make aqua vite. - Take germander, fennel root, parsley 
root,  rosemary,  thyme and lavender,  each in equal amounts. Wash them 
and dry them,  and then grind them a little in a mortar and add  a 
little salt. Then put it in the body of the distillator and pour in wine 
(red or white), then place it in a pot full of ashes over the furnace 
and make a gentle enough fire underneath that when the distillator 
begins to drip, look that it drips no faster than you can say "one, two, 
three" between the drops.
     And so do distill it all together; then take the water that is 
distilled, and distill again if you like, and take a little spoonful 
every day while fasting.]

 From Henslow, G. Medical Works of the Fourteenth Century. Burt 
Franklin, N.Y., N.Y. 1972 (reprint  of the 1899 edn.).

     Bruce R. Gordon

Crystal A. Isaac wrote:

"Normal" heat distillation was common enough in Europe for it to 
mentioned in various cookery and medical books.
For example:
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon. editors and translators. _Curye on
Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century 
(Including the Forme of Cury)_. Published for the Early English Text 
Society by Oxford University Press. London, England 1985 ISBN 0-19-722409.

"7    Aqua vite: that is to seie, water of liif. Fille thi viol ful of 
lyes of strong wiyn, & putte therto these poudris; poudir of canel, of 
clowes, of gyngyuer, of notemugges, of galyngale, of quibibis, of greyn 
de parys, of longe peper, of blake peper; alle these in powdir. 
Careawey, cirmunteyn, comyn, fenel, smallage, persile, sauge, myntis, 
ruwe, calamynte, origanum; and a half unce or moorw or lasse, as thee 
likith. Poownd hem a litil, for it will be the betir, & put hem on the 
houel, & kepe it wel that the hete come not to it; & sette thervndir a 
viol, & kepe the watir."

Ex Tenebra, Lux


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