Friday, March 01, 2013

Something to do with Barley.

It was brought to my attention yesterday that in spite of saying that the almond-drink orgeat was originally based on barley, I did not include a recipe for barley-orgeat.  This does indeed seem a silly oversight, but I can only plead the encroaching deadline for my Food History Almanac.
I should, of course, give you a recipe first for good old barley-water, a staple and refreshing beverage in times not too long gone. Here are some comprehensive instructions, with ideas for flavouring the basic version, and some indications for its medicinal use (not recommended today.)

Barley Water.
Scotch or pearl barley may be used. Wash, or boil up, as for barley gruel; to a quart of water, barley two ounces. Simmer till of an agreeable thickness, and strain. Boil the barley up again, and it will make a pint more. This is a very cooling drink. It is also a pleaseant thing to take medicine in. Lemon juice and peel, raisins, figs, liquorice root, sugar, honey, and gum Arabic, with these additions it is often used either for complaints of the chest, confined bowels, or strangury; or powdered nitre a drachm to a quart, is often found good for fever. (Merely for a drink, put sugar and lemon peel.) Rub up the nitre with honey or sugar, mix it with a little barley water, and then pour it on the whole quantity in a boiling state. Stir well together.
The Complete Cook, (1846) by J. Sanderson.

Sanderson does have a recipe for orgeat which is not a syrup, but a ready-to-drink beverage. It is based on milk flavoured with cinnamon and rose-water and spiked with brandy, so I can forgive it for not containing barley.

Boil a quart of new milk with a stick of cinnamon. Put to it two ounces of loaf-sugar, and let it cool. Blanch and beat to a paste, with a little rose water, three ounces of sweet almonds and two bitter. Stir them to the milk; boil it up again, and continue stirring till cold. Then add half a glass of brandy.

It is proving more difficult than I thought to find a recipe for orgeat with barley. Perhaps the use of barley was discontinued a long time ago, before there were too many written recipes? Perhaps I should not give up after ten minutes research? Perhaps I should get back to The Book?


Margaret McArthur said...

There are never enough barley recipes!

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Margaret - I was thinking of doing another post on "Things to do with Barley" - now I definitely will! maybe next week?

Anonymous said...

For a 1775 source for a barley orgeat see -

Sometime later the barley was omitted to produce an almond syrup used in cocktails.

Walter Jacobson

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks Anonymous! I might try (over a period of time) getting these orgeat recipes in chronological order. Might be interesting and fun

Unknown said...

Wow anonymous that was a great find, thanks!