Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nectar, nectar, nectar.

A while back we considered ambrosia, the mythical Food of the Gods, as interpreted by earthly mortals in a variety of recipes across history. The Gods got thirsty too, of course, and to wash down their ambrosia they had their own sweet beverage called nectar. Naturally, Mere Mortals were not content with mere water, and wanted nectar of their own, but as The Gods did not leave a cookery book behind, mortals had to experiment for themselves - which has led to an awful lot of recipes for nectar, as you can imagine.

I give you a random selection of these ideas - and fine suggestions they are too, for the next time you want to feel immortal and all-powerful, or maybe just want to indulge your sweet tooth.

Welsh Nectar
Two gallons of water being boiled, and allowed to cool; one pound of raisins, two pounds of loaf sugar, the juice of three lemons, and their peel cut thin, are added; after being stirred daily for four days, it is run through a jelly bag and bottled; in ten days, or a fortnight more, it will be fit for use, and will be found excellent in warm weather. The corks should be tied down.
The Practice of Cookery: adapted to the business of everyday life, by Mrs Dalgairns, 1830

To make Nectar.
Put half a pound of loaf sugar into a large porcelain jug; add one pint of cold water; bruise and stir the sugar till it is completely dissolved; pour over it half a bottle of hock and one bottle of madeira. Mix them well together, and grate in half a nutmeg, with a drop or two of the essence of lemon. Set the jug in a bucket of ice for one hour.
Family Receipts: or, Practical Guide for the husbandman and housewife, (1831) by H.L. Barnum

Cream Nectar
Put six pounds of crushed white sugar into a preserving kettle, on it pour two quarts of warm water and add four ounces of tartaric acid; stir well, keeping it in a hot place; when the sugar is dissolved by the heat and water (but do not let it boil) add the whites of four eggs beaten to a stiff froth, stir them well through; then remove the kettle from the fire, and when cool add enough of essence of lemon to give it a pleasant flavor; then bottle and keep in a cool place. When required for use take two table-spoonsful of this syrup and then fill the tumbler two-thirds full of ice water, stir in a teaspoonful of subcarbonate of soda until it effervesces, and it will prove a most refreshing and delicious drink.
Mrs Goodfellow’s Cookery as it should be (1865)

Raspberry Nectar.
Dissolve two cupfuls of sugar in the same amount of cold water; add the grated rind of one orange, taking care to use the yellow part only, as the white rind imparts a bitter taste. Bring to a boil. Strain this syrup and add it to the juice of two lemons and two oranges, and one quart of raspberry juice. Set in a cold place and allow to get ice cold before serving.
Fruits and Their Cookery, (1921) by Harriet Schuyler Nelson.

Quotation for the Day.

NECTAR, n. A drink served at banquets of the Olympian deities. The secret of its preparation is lost, but the modern Kentuckians believe that they come pretty near to a knowledge of its chief ingredient.
Ambrose Bierce, Devil’s Dictionary.

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