Friday, September 13, 2013

Figgy Beverages.

In the past we have had quite a number of recipes featuring figs (see the list below), and figs have also appeared in a number of other cakes, puddings, and desserts. But we have not, so far, had any figgy beverages. I am going to remedy that right now.

In the Military Dictionary (1863) by Henry Lee Scott the recipes are said to be taken from Soyer’s Culinary Campaign. Here is a recipe for Fig Water – a medicinal beverage, but surely very delicious even for the healthy. The recipe is an adaptation of the preceding one in the book, so I give you all:

French Plum Water.  Boil 3 pints of water; add in 6 or 8 dried plums previously split, 2 or 3 slices of lemon, a spoonful of honey 01 sugar; boil half an hour, and serve.
For Fig, Date, and Raisin Water, proceed as above, adding the juice of half a lemon to any of the above. If for fig water, use 6 figs. Any quantity of the above fruits may be used with advantage in rice, barley, or arrowroot water.

And of course, we must have wine:

English Fig Wine.
Take the large blue figs when pretty ripe, and steep them in white wine, having made some slits in them, that they may swell and gather in the substance of the wine. Then slice some other figs, and let them simmer over a fire in fair water till they be reduced to a kind of pulp. Then strain out the water, pressing the pulp hard, and pour it as hot as possible on the figs that are imbrued in the wine. Let the quantities be nearly equal, but the water somewhat more than the wine and figs. Let them stand twenty-four hours, mash them well together, and drain off what will run without squeezing. Then press the rest, and if it be not sweet enough, add a sufficient quantity of sugar to make it so. Let it ferment, and add a little honey and sugar-candy to it: then fine it with whites of eggs and a little isinglass, and draw it off for use.
The London art of cookery, and housekeeper's complete assistant, by John Farley, 1787.

I love that wordimbrued’!  It means, as you can guess, saturated or permeated (and also ‘stained.’)  Forget marinating, I am resolved to do more imbruing in my kitchen.

English Fig Wine.
Take a quantity of ripe figs and cut them in slices, and let them simmer over the fire in a small portion of water until reduced to a pulp, then strain the liquor from it by compression, and to every gallon of the expressed liquid when cold add two quarts of sherry, raisin, or currant wine, and as much loaf sugar as discreet judgment will allow to sweeten it, and water to reduce it; after which put the liquor into a cask sufficiently large to hold the quantity intended to be deposited therein; let it remain a few days for a course of fermentation, and when it has ceased and is thoroughly settled, rack it off and fine it with isinglass; let it stand in the cellar four months, then bottle it and keep the bottles in a cold temperature.
The spirit, wine dealer's and publican's director, 1824

Fig Recipes from Previous Posts.

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