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Wine Recipes

The following three recipes are taken from The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digbie Kt. Opened... Please note that all three of these are non-grape wines made from other fruits. Note, also, that two of them call for the addition of sugar. The use of sugar in cooking and winemaking had been in practice for 300 years or more by the writing The Closet... as evidenced by the mention of both 'powdered sugar' and 'crystallized sugar' in a cookbook written in 1392, mentioned by Leechdom, and the following quote written in a letter only one century later in the Paston Letters, '...send me an other sugar loff, for my old one is do.'56

The Countess of Newport's Cherry Wine

     Pick the best cherries free from rotten, and
     pick the stalks from them; put them into an
     earthen Pan.  Bruise them, by griping and
     straining them in your hands, and let them
     stand all night; on the next day strain them
     out (through a Napkin, which if it be a
     course and thin one, let the juyce run
     through a Hippocras or gelly bag, upon a
     pound of fine pure Sugar in powder, to every
     Gallon of juyce) and to every gallon put a
     pound of Sugar, and put it into a vessel.  Be
     sure your vessel be full, or your wine will
     be spoiled; and in every bottle you must put
     a lump (a piece as big as a Nutmeg) of Sugar. 
     The vessel must not be stopt until it hath
     done working.

Strawberry Wine

     Bruise the Strawberries, and put them into a
     Linnen-bag which hath been a little used,
     that so the Liquor may run through more easi-
     ly.  You hang in the bag at the bung into the
     vessel, before you do put in your Strawber-
     ries.  The quantity of the fruit is left to
     your discretion; for you will judge to be
     there enough of them, when the color of the
     wine is high enough.  During the working, you
     leave the bung open.  The working being over,
     you stop your vessel.  Cherry-wine is made
     after the same fashion.  But it is a lettle
     more troublesome to break the Cherry-stones. 
     But it is necessary, that if your Cherries be
     of the black soure Cherries, you put to it a
     little Cinnamon, and a few Cloves.

To Make Wine of Cherries Alone

     Take one hundred pounds weight, or what quan-
     tity you please, of ripe, but sound, pure,
     dry and well gathered Cherries.  Bruise and
     mash them with your hands to press out all
     their juyce, which strain through a boulter
     cloth, into a deep narrow Wooden tub, and
     cover it close with clothes.  It will begin
     to work and ferment within three or four
     hours, and a thick foul scum will rise to the
     top.  Skim it off as it riseth to any good
     head, and presently cover it again.  Do this
     till no more great quantity of scum arise,
     which will be four or five times, or more. 
     And by this means the Liquor will become
     clear, all the gross muddy parts rising up in
     a scum to the top.  When you find that the
     height of the working is past, and that it
     begins to go less, tun it into a barrel,
     letting it run again through a boulter, to
     keep out all the gross feculant substance. 
     If you should let it stay before you tun it
     up, till the working were too much deaded,
     the wine would prove dead.  Let it remain in
     the barrel close stopped, a month or five
     weeks.  Then draw it into bottles, into each
     of which put a lump of fine Sugar, before you
     draw the wine into it, and stop them very
     close, and set them in a cold Cellar.  You
     may drink them after three or four months. 
     This wine is exceeding pleasant, strong,
     spiritful and comfortable.
The following is a selection on the making of hippocras (a spiced and sweetened wine, often served steaming hot).57

     To make Ypocrasse for lords with gynger,
     synamon, and graines, sugour, and turnesol:
     and for comyn pepul, gynger, canell, longe
     peper, and clarifyed hony.

Mead Recipes

A list of herbs and spices used in the making of Metheglin can be found in the following excerpt from 'A Receipt to make a Tun of Metheglyn' in The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digbie Kt. Opened, Whereby is Discovered Several ways of making of Metheglin, Sider, Cherry Wine, &c:58

     Take two handfuls of Dock (alias wild
     carrot) a reasonable burthen of Saxifrage,
     Wild-Sage, Blew-button, Scabious, Bettony,
     Agrimony,Wildmarjoram, of each a reasonable
     burthen; Wild thyme a Peck, Roots and all. 
     The Garden-herbs are these; Bayleaves, and
     Rosemary, or each two handfuls; A Sieveful of
     Avens, and as much Violet-leaves: A handful of
     Sage; and three handfuls of Sweet-Marjoram. 
     Three Roots of young Borrage, leaves and all;
     Two handfuls of Parsley-roots; Two Roots of
     Elecampane: Two handfuls of Fennel: a peck of
     Thyme; wash and pick all your herbs from filth
     and grass.
The following recipe is also taken from The Closet of Sir Kenelme Digbie... on page 5:

          Take one Measure of Honey, and three
     Measures of Water, and let it boil till one
     measure be boiled away, so that there be left
     three measures in all;  as for Example, take
     to one Pot of Honey, three Pots of Water, and
     let it boil so long, till it come to three
     Pots.  During which time you must Skim it very
     well as soon as any scum riseth; which you are
     to continue till there rise no scum more.  You
     may, if you please, put to it some spice, to
     wit, Cloves and Ginger; the quantity of which
     is to be proportioned according as you will
     have your Meath, strong or weak.  But this you
     do befor it begin to boil.  There are some
     that put either Yeast of Beer, or Leaven of
     Bread into it, to make it work.  But this is
     not necessary at all; and much less to set it
     into the Sun.  Mr. Masillon doth neither the
     one nor the other.  Afterwards for to tun it,
     you must let it grow Luke-warm, for to advance
     it.  And if you do intend to keep your Meathe
     for a long time, you may put into it some hops
     on this fashion.  Take to every Barrel of
     Meathe a Pound of Hops without leaves, that
     is, Ordinary Hops used for Beer, but well
     cleansed, taking only the Flowers, without the
     Green-leaves and stalks.  Boil this Pound of
     Hops in a Pot and a half of fair water, till
     it come to one Pot, and this quantity is
     sufficient for a Barrel of Meathe... When you
     Tun your Meathe, you must not fill your Barrel
     by half a foot, that so it may have room to
     work.  Then let it stand six weeks slightly
     stopped; which being expired, if the Meath do
     not work, stop it up very close.  Yet must you
     not fill the Barrel to the very brim.  After
     six Months you draw off the clear into another
     Barrel, or strong Bottles, leaving the dregs,
     and filling up your new Barrel, or Bottles,
     and stopping it or them very close.

     The Meath that is made this way, (Viz. In
     the Spring, in the Month of April or May,
     which is the proper time for making of it,)
     will keep for many a year.

This next mead recipe is taken from The Country Housewife:

     Take eight Gallons of Water, and as much
     Honey as will make it bear an egg; add to this
     the Rinds of six Lemmons, and boil it well,
     scumming it carefully as it rises.  When 'tis
     off the Fire, put to it the Juice of the six
     Lemmons, and pour it into a clean Tub, or
     earthen Vessel, if you have one large enough,
     to work three days, then scum it well, and
     pour off the clear into the Cask, and let it
     stand open till it has done making a hissing
     Noise; after which stop it up close, and in
     three months time it will be fine, and fit for

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