Friday, July 05, 2013

Sussex Wine.

I have physically left Sussex behind me for Oxford, but I want to stay there for one more post. Serendipity makes me do it. I came across an interesting recipe purely by accident - I don't even remember what I was looking for. But before I give it to you, here are some words on Suffolk folk and their cookery, from Sussex archaeological collections relating to the history and antiquities of the county, Volume 8 (1856)

"In their persons not corpulent, but rather spare and thin-shanked; in their diet generally frugal; and in their cookery, being neither dainty nor expensive, they care most for pork, which indeed they prepare skilfully, by steeping in brine. After being thus pickled, somewhat in the Egyptian manner, they slice it off when cured, as the family may want. They also cook a certain lump of barley meal, looking much like mud itself, and hardened like iron, offering it at meals instead of bread. These you will find universally."

And now, the recipe:

Birch-Wine, as made in Sussex.
TAKE the Sap of Birch fresh drawn; boil it as long as any Scum arises i, to every Gallon of Liquor, put two Pounds of good Sugar; boil it half an Hour, and scum it very clean; when 'tis almost cold, set it with a little Yeast spread on a Toast; let it stand five or six Days in an open vessel, stirring it often; then take such a Cask as the Liquor will be sure to fill; and fire a large Match dipp'd in Brimstone, and put it into the Cask, and stop in the Smoak, till the Match is extinguished, always keeping it shook; then shake out the Ashes, and, as quick as possible, pour in a Pint of Sack, or Rhenish, which Taste you like best, for the Liquor retains it; rince the Cask well with this, and pour it out: Pour in your Wine, and stop it close for six Months; then, if 'tis perfectly fine, you may bottle it.
Collection of Above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick, and Surgery: For the Use of All Good Wives, Tender Mothers, and Careful Nurses (1734) by Mary Kettilby.

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