Ottos Ypocras I
Brewer: Otto Gottlieb
Recipe Source: “le Viandier de Taillevent”, 14th Century Cookery. Version as shown on Project Gutenberg, Based on the Vatican Library Manuscript (early 15th century), Translated into English by James Prescott
Recipe Name: Ypocras
Category: Liqueurs, Cordials and Medicinal Brews, Distillation (if legally permitted)
Time/Place Paneled: Aug. 2017, Pennsic
Panel Score: 86
From “le Viandier de Taillevent”, 14th Century Cookery. Version as shown on Project Gutenberg: Pour faire vne pinte dypocras. il fault trois treseaux de cynamome fine & paree. vng treseau mesche ou deux qui veult. demy treseau girofle & graine de sucre fin six onces & mettes en pouldre & la fault toute mettre en vng couloir auec le vin et le pot dessoubz / et le passez tant quil soit coule & tant plus est passe & mieulx vault / mais que il ne soit esuente.
Based on the Vatican Library Manuscript (early 15th century), Translated into English by James Prescott: Take four ounces of very fine cinnamon, two ounces of fine cassia flowers, an ounce of selected Mecca ginger, an ounce of grains of paradise, and a sixth [of an ounce] of nutmeg and galingale combined. Crush them all together. Take a good half ounce of this powder and eight ounces of sugar [(which thus makes Sweet Powder)], and mix it with a quart of wine.
The English translation is fairly straight-forward. The ingredients are: 4 oz. cinnamon, 2 oz. cassia flowers, 1 oz. of “Mecca” ginger, 1 oz. grains of paradise, 1/6th oz nutmeg, and 1/6th oz galingale. Crush and mix together. Use “good” ½ oz of powder mix with 8 oz. of sugar to a quart of wine.
Some of the ingredients require further explanation. The recipe specifically calls for “cassia flowers”, which come from the “Cassia Cinnamon” tree (Cinnamomum aromaticum), so I used cassia cinnamon as well. “Cassia flowers” can be misinterpreted as Cassia Tree (Cassia fistula). I was able to find and buy dried cassia flower buds, which come from the cassia cinnamon tree. “Mecca” (or “Mesche”) ginger is described as having browner bark and whiter flesh in “Le Ménagier de Paris” (see notes). For this reason, I choose to use lesser galingale (Alpinia officinarum), which matches this description and is said to have been widely used in Europe.
- 4 oz. cinnamon
- 2 oz. cassia flowers
- 1 oz. of “Mecca” ginger
- 1 oz. grains of paradise
- 1/6th oz nutmeg
- 1/6th oz galingale
- Granulated sugarcane
- Red wine
Process and Notes
Preparing this ypocras is not particularly difficult; especially if the red wine is purchased. Given the instruction to use “a good half ounce of this powder and eight ounces of sugar”, implies that the 8 1/3 oz (total) spice mix can be used to make about 15-16 quarts of wine as needed.
There are 4 known manuscripts of Le Viandier (13/14th century, 14th century and 2 from the 15th century). The original author is unknown, but Guillaume Tirel, or Taillevent, is credited with later versions. Plagiarizing earlier works and adding new material was common in period (Wikipedia). So in the course of researching this recipe, I noticed the distinct similarity to the “Hippocras” recipe in “Le Ménagier de Paris” (1393). Here is the recipe on David Friedman’s website as translated by Janet Hinson:
HIPPOCRAS. To make powdered hippocras, take a quarter-ounce of very fine cinnamon, hand-picked by tasting it, an ounce of very fine meche ginger and an ounce of grains of paradise, a sixth of an ounce of nutmeg and galingale together, and pound it all together. And when you want to make hippocras, take a good half-ounce or more of this powder and two quarter-ounces of sugar, and mix them together, and a quart of wine as measured in Paris.
In this version, the next line reads, “And note that the powder and the sugar mixed together make "duke's powder".”
Regarding the choice of using lesser galingale, Mecca ginger is described in ‘Householder of Paris’, anonymous author 1393, "Note that there are three differences between Mecca ginger and Colombine ginger. Mecca ginger has a darker brown rind, it is easier to chop with a knife, and it is whiter inside than the Colombine. It is better, and always more expensive." (Dalby, 2000).
Neither of these recipes says explicitly how long before drinking to prepare the hippocras. However in Le Ménagier de Paris, the next recipe for another hippocras, says “Grind to powder, and with this put a pound and half a quarter-ounce, by the heavier measure, of ground rock sugar, and mix with the aforesaid spices; and have wine and the sugar melted on a dish on the fire, and add the powder, and mix: then put in the straining-bag, and strain until it comes out a clear red.” For this reason, I will prepare the hippocras during the EKBG paneling.
Lastly, Master Simon De Okewode of Gode Erthe Pottes, has been contracted to construct a 15th century English pipkin at Pennsic with local clay. The Bartman jug was produced throughout the 16th & 17th centuries from the Rhineland region for export to northern Europe and British Isles. The white stoneware jug was also produced in the Rhineland region for export starting in the 14 to 15th centuries. The powder dish and the sugar dish are handmade, but with less historical provenance. The wood spoon is for affect.
Dalby, Andrew (2000) Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices. University of California Press. Pg. 24-25.
Hinson, Janet. Translation of Le Ménagier de Paris available on David Friedman’s website: http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Menagier/Menagier.html accessed May 8, 2017.
Prescot, James. (1989) le Viandier de Taillevent, 14th Century Cookery, Based on the Vatican Library Manuscript. Alfarhaugr Publishing Society, Eugene, Oregon, Second Edition © 1989 James Prescott (http://www.telusplanet.net/public/prescotj/data/viandier/viandier5.html)
Le Ménagier de Paris. (2017, May 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:34, July 23, 2017, from, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Le_M%C3%A9nagier_de_Paris&oldid=778413890
Tirel, Guillaume. 15th century version. le Viandier de Taillevent. The Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 18:00, July 23, 2017, from, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/26567/26567-h/26567-h.htm#hypocras