A non-sweetened brandy cordial designed to be pleasant
to sip and also have carminative and digestive effects.
-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa
I bruised the whole seeds slightly with a mortar and pestle, added all the
spices to a large jar, and poured on the brandy and steeped for 2 weeks.
I used such large quantities and bruised the seeds because I wasn't going
to soak it for very long. The ground coriander was used instead of whole
coriander, which I prefer, because I ran out of coriander unexpectedly.
5 slices fresh Ginger
2 tablespoons Caraway seed
2 tablespoons Cumin seed
4 tablespoons Dill seed
2 tablespoons Fennel seed
5 tablespoons Anise seed
1 teaspoon Cardamom
1 teaspoon ground Coriander seed
3 cups Brandy
After two weeks, I strained out some of the cordial and bottled it. This
is not a sweetened coridal; I don't think it needs sweetening.
This tincture is an approximation of a period 'compound distilled water',
along the lines of those recipes in Gervase Markham's English Housewife
and Plat's Delightes for Ladies. It's not directly from a period recipe,
but uses the same principles. The mixture is somewhat similar to that in the
Johnstone MSS, cited in "Precious Waters":
Most period waters would have been herbs and/or spices macerated in wine,
ale or aquavitae and redistilled. We don't have that option, so the method
used here is tincturing in Brandy. I'm aware that the inexpensive brand of
brandy I purchased was probably aged in oak to give it more flavor, but I
didn't choose to spring for the more expensive non-aged special brandies.
I normally make this with a vodka base, suspecting it would have been made
with ale (a grain base) in the original.
"A cordial. - Take galangal, ginger, liquorice, and fennel; blend
them together and powder them, and drink with an old ale."
Most of the spices used here are carminative, that is, their 'heating properties'
encourage the expulsion of gas from the digestive system.
Gerard's Herbal says:
Dill, Fennel and Anise seed are mentioned in compound distillation recipes
in Markham; Markham says water of fennel is "good to make a fat body small,
and also for the eyes." Dill and Fennel are listed among Thomas Tussers' "Herbs
to still in summer" in his 500 Points of Good Husbandry, and Cumin
is one of the herbs he lists for 'Physic."
- Of anise: "The seed wasted and consumeth winde, and is good against
belchings and upbraidings of the stomacke, allayeth gripings of the belly.
. . "
- Of Caraway: "It consumeth winde, it is delightful to the stomach and
taste, it helpeth concoction [digestion]. . ."
- Of Coriander seeds, "Also, if it be taken with meate fasting, it causeth
good digestion, and shutteth up the stomack, keepeth away fumes from rising
up out of the same. . ."
- Of Cumin: "The seed of Cumin scattereth and breaketh all the
windiness of the stomack, belly, guts, and matrix: it is good against the
griping torments, gnawing or fretting of the belly . . ."
- Of Dill: "The seed, being drunk . . . allayeth gripings and windiness"
- Of Fennel: "Fennel seed drunk asswages the paine of the stomacke, and
wambling of the same, or desire to vomit, and breaketh winde. . . The seed
and herbe of sweet Fennell is equal in vertues with Annise seed."
- Of Ginger: "it is of an heating and digesting qualitie, it gently looseth
the belly, and is profitable for the stomacke. . . canded, greene or condited
ginger is hot and moist in qualitie. . . "
It's not clear whether fresh ginger was available to Renaissance cooks and
brewers, but I have come across (and subsequently lost) a reference to a
16th century gardener having a pot for sprouting ginger in, so they may have
been sprouting the dried rhizomes in some way. The period references to green
ginger also suggest that fresh ginger rhizomes may may have been available
as part of the sprouting process. If I were using dried ones, I'd use twice
as much of the ginger.
Fitz-Maurice, Forester Nigel. "Precious Waters: A miscellany of early cordials."
Gerard, John. The Herbal, or General History of Plants. (Dover,
Shapiro, Marc. Alcoholic Drinks of the Middle Ages. (The CA on Alcoholic Beverages)Web: http://users.stargate.net/~mshapiro/calcohol.html
Tusser, Thomas. His Good Points of Husbandry, 1557.
Published 1931 by Country Life Limited, London; edited by Dorothy Hartley.
Vargas, Pat, Rich Gulling, and Pamela Lappies. Cordials from Your Kitchen. (VT: Storey Books, 1997)
All materials copyright Jennifer Heise or original authors as otherwise specified.
Permission is granted for use as printed handouts and for cooking as long as you
let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and if you
republish, get me a copy. My homepage: http://www.gallowglass.org/jadwiga