There are some wonderful and wonderfully awful recipes and remedies in a little book called The widowes treasure plentifully furnished with sundry precious and aprooued secretes in phisicke and chirurgery for the health and pleasure of mankinde: hereunto are adioyned, sundry pretie practises and conclusions of cookerie;with many pofitable and holesome medicines for sundrie diseases in cattell, published in London in 1588.
Amongst the formulae for artificial colours, ink, and a whole lot of other ‘secrets’ are specific remedies for ‘sundrie diseases’ in humans (such as ‘To cause one to pisse’ and ‘For one that is deafe’) as well as cattle - and a few recipes for preserving.
Food preservation methods were limited in the sixteenth century (no canning no refrigeration), but necessity breeds some very creative inventions, as you can see from these alternative 'conclusions', for prolonging the life of pears.
To keep Peares.
Put them in a vessell that they touche not each other, and make a bed of peares and an other of fine white Salt, and cover them close.
To make drye Peares.
Take faire water and Rosewater according to the quantitie of your peares, then take Honye as much as you thinke good and put in your Peares, then let them seethe very softlye that they breake not, then take them out and put them in a Collander and let them drain, then when you drawe your bread put them into the Oven in some earthen panne, and if they be not drye at the first, put them in againe until they be dry, then barrel them.
So, what do you think? I am most intrigued by the idea of pears kept in layers of salt. I guess they would take on a salty tang? And the honey-poached and then dried pears sound absolutely wonderful and eminently tryable today.
Quotation for the Day …
Pounding fragrant things - particularly garlic, basil, parsley - is a tremendous antidote to depression. But it applies also to juniper berries, coriander seeds and the grilled fruits of the chili pepper. Pounding these things produces an alteration in one's being - from sighing with fatigue to inhaling with pleasure. The cheering effects of herbs and alliums cannot be too often reiterated. Virgil's appetite was probably improved equally by pounding garlic as by eating it.