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sugar-msg – 3/14/14


Sugar and other medieval sweeteners. Honey, Carob. Types of sugar. Sugar processing.


NOTE: See also the files: Roses-a-Sugar-art, sugar-paste-msg, honey-msg, Sugarplums-art, candy-msg, carob-msg, Cypriot-Sugr-art, sugar-sources-msg, Sweet-Terms-art, Bakng-w-Sugar-art.


KEYWORDS: sugar cost refining medieval honey turbinado brown molasses sugarcane period history





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given  by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is unclear  at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: haslock at rust.zso.dec.com (Nigel Haslock)

Date: 14 Mar 91 20:13:38 GMT

Organization: DECwest, Digital Equipment Corp., Bellevue WA


Well, I looked it up.


        Sugar was 12 pence a pound for the lowest grade and the Baronesses

        household bought about 56 pounds in a 7 month period.


        I assume that this was loaf sugar and that fine powdered white

        sugar was more expensive.


        Almonds were 12 pence for 5 pounds and the household used 280 pounds

        over a 7 month period. Raisins were the same price.


        12 pence would buy 48 (1 pound) loaves of bread, or between 24 and

        36 gallons of beer, or roughly 200 pounds of barley, or roughly

        100 pounds of wheat. Milling the grain would cost you more.


        The commentary notes that molasses was being imported to England

        towards the end of the century.



                Aquaterra, AnTir



From: ddfr at quads.uchicago.edu (david director friedman)

Date: 16 Mar 91 04:01:48 GMT

Organization: University of Chicago


"The commentary notes that molasses was being imported to England

towards the end of the century."  (Fiacha)


Molasses (British "treacle") is a byproduct of sugar refining.

According to C. Anne Wilson (Food and Drink in England) they were

originally used for medicinal purposes. At some point after sugar

started to be refined in England (which I think happened in the

sixteenth century), the supply of molasses outgrew the medicinal

demand and they started to be used in cooking. So the culinary use of

molasses in England would date from late sixteenth or early

seventeenth century. They might have been used earlier elsewhere, but

I do not think I have seen any period recipes that mention them.





From: ag1v+ at andrew.cmu.edu (Andrea B. Gansley-Ortiz)

Date: 21 Nov 91 20:38:27 GMT

Organization: Engineering Design Research Center, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA


Gentle readers, I recommend me to you.


Ferdinand and Isabella had supplies of cane sugar coming into their

kingdoms.  It was not refined as it is nowadays. However, I do believe

that both molasses, and rum came back to their kingdoms as well as a coarse

cane sugar.


In a chronicle I read, it seems that Isabel and her children were very

fond of cane sugar and ate it seemingly at every meal.  Again, if anyone's

interested I'll find the name of the book in which I read this.  It wasn't

an ordinary history.  It was much more interested in the daily lives of

Don~a Isabel and Don Fernando.


Su segura servidora,

        Esmeralda la Sabia



From: habura at vccsouth19.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Date: 22 Nov 91 13:51:49 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY


I did more research on  availability of sugar in period. All citations

are from the OED.

The word "sugar" first appears in English in 1299. It is referred to only

in inventories (e.g., "7 loaves of sugar") until 1425. There is a recipe

for a cinnamon-sugar dish (probably a dessert) from that date.

Sugar was first referred to as "white" in 1430, so purification techniques

were in use by then. (There's your molasses, Esmeralda.)

In general, sugars were referred to as being "of" a particular place: Cyprus,

Alexandria, Babylon, Barbary, Crete, and Morocco. The OED says that sugarcane

originated in China, but will grow in any tropical climate; I assume that

early sugar came from China, and was perhaps grown in warmer areas nearer

Europe later on.

The first literary reference to sugar is in Chaucer's Squire's Tale, and

is mentioned in conjunction with honey, bread and milk. (In other words,

the Good Stuff.)

Period foods using sugar: Sugarcakes (1587, made from sugar, butter, and

cream), gingerbread (also 1587), sugared almonds (Marlowe mentioned them in 1594), sugar meats (a confection of some sort, 1587) sugar pellets (1591),

which seem to have been sugar paste; they were served in bowls at feasts,

probably like our after-dinner mints, and sugar water (1450).


The first mention of sugarcane in English is 1568.


Alison MacDermot

*Ex Ungue Leonem*



From: Marion.Kee at a.nl.cs.cmu.EDU

Date: 22 Nov 91 20:04:00 GMT

Organization: The Internet


Greeting to the Rialto from Marian Greenleaf!


Herewith another chunk of my period food summary, this time the section

on sugarcane.  I would like to find out more about the fate of the

by-products of the refining process in our period, such as molasses.

Anyone who's got a line on some good sources for this, could you please

send me private email?


While the summary below does not deal with the question of rum, I have

found references that seem to suggest that it showed up regularly in

Spain during our period.  I don't read medieval Spanish.  Does anyone

know of a source in English regarding medieval/Renaissance Spanish foods?

(Sources in modern Romance languages, or medieval French, I can deal

with, with effort.)



Some Notes on Sugarcane


by Marian Greenleaf, C.M., O.P.

m.k.a Marion Kee, 5615 Hobart St., Pittsburgh, PA 15217 <kee at cs.cmu.edu>

Text copyright 1988, 1990, 1991 by Marion Kee



The sources the following material was largely drawn from are:


Dawson, Thomas; The Good Hus-wives Jewell, E. Allde, London, 1596

(transcribed by Susan J. Evans, Falconwood Press, 1988.)


Dawson, Thomas; The Second Part of the Good Hus-wives Jewell, E.

Allde, London, 1597 (transcribed by Master John the Artificer.)


Encyclopedia Brittanica, Fifteenth Edition, Chicago/London, 1977.


Hieatt, Constance B. and Butler, Sharon: Pleyn Delit, University of

Toronto Press, Toronto, 1976.


Hieatt, Constance B.: An Ordinance of Pottage, Prospect Books,

London, 1988.


Murrell, John; A New Booke of Cookerie, John Brown, London, 1615

(transcribed by Susan J. Evans, Falconwood Press, 1988.)


Root, Waverly; Food, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1980.  


Root, Waverly (ed.); Herbs and Spices, Alfred van der Marck Editions,

New York, 1985.  



(Revision of January, 1991)




[Origins:]  Near the Bay of Bengal, in India.


[In Antiquity:]  Imported by the Persians from India

as a very expensive condiment, fifth century B.C.;

known to the Greeks and Romans as a medicine,  but not cultivated

or imported by them.  Mentioned in the Old Testament (cf. Jeremiah 6:20).


[In Period (where/when/as):]


China / probably throughout period / grown as condiment


Spain / Moorish Conquest (eighth century) / grown as condiment


England / 735 / imported as condiment


Italy / ca. 1200 / regularly imported and widely used as condiment, medicine


France, England, Portugal / fourteenth century / regularly imported and

widely used as condiment, medicine


New World / sixteenth century / grown and exported to Europe by the

Spanish in the Caribbean and Mexico; the Portuguese in Brazil; the Dutch

in the Caribbean and on the South American mainland.


[Comments:]  Imported from India as a rare spice during

the Dark Ages; grown in the Near East by the Arabs,

as early as the eighth century; imported to Europe

from Egypt during the Middle Ages;  Marco Polo remarked on its abundance

in China; Venice acquired a near-monopoly

during the Italian Renaissance, even importing the raw materials and

refining it in Italy; Columbus took sugarcane to America and established it

as a crop there (on his second voyage, 1494)



From: sbloch at euler.ucsd.edu (Steve Bloch)

Date: 22 Nov 91 17:21:00 GMT


jschmidt at gambrinus.tymnet.com (John Schmidt) writes:


>(Actually, there is only one point here, because in the two

>references I was able to remember, sugar is very much known.


Period English cookbooks call for both "sugre blake" and "sugre

blanche", but not terribly often; white sugar seems to have been used

primarily medicinally in Christian lands.  The Arabic cookbooks often

call for white sugar, as well as specifying the use of raw "sweet

cane".  In fact, the latter seems to have been common enough that one

could make a subtlety that LOOKED like sweet cane but wasn't, and have

it recognized.  Sweet cane is also recommended for stirring things,

presumably to give them just a hint of sweetness. (BTW, my encyclo-

pedia says sugarcane is native to Asia, but doesn't specify where.)


Stephen Bloch

Joshua ibn-Eleazar ha-Shalib


sbloch at math.ucsd.edu



From: David Schroeder <ds4p+ at andrew.cmu.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Sweet Thoughts, etc.

Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1993 15:04:25 -0400

Organization: Doctoral student, Industrial Administration, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA


Greetings good gentles --


I have recently been reading an entertaining volume, "Seeds of Change," by

Henry Hobhouse (a journalist, not a professional scholar).  The book looks

at the historical import of five key plants or plant products:  quinine,

sugar, tea, cotton, and potatoes. [c.1985  ISBN: 0-06-091440-8 (ppbk)].


Some of the more interesting tidbits are worth sharing.  For example, here's

a chart of the relative cost of 10 pounds of sugar expressed as a percentage

of 1 ounce of gold (taken as an average of London, Paris, and Amsterdam)...


      Period          Sugar %         Honey %

      1350-1400         35.0            3.30

      1400-1450         24.5            2.05

      1450-1500         19.0            1.50

      1500-1550          8.7            1.20


Note that Hobhouse doesn't cite his sources for this table and doesn't

mention that the "value" of an ounce of gold may have changed in the

last period due to the huge captured troves of the Aztecs and Incas,

but it's still an interesting chart, if only to see the relative expense

of sugar and honey.  Clearly, using refined sugar in a dish would have

been an expensive proposition during almost all of the Society's scope.


Hobhouse also says:

"The sugar industry survived the gradual expulsion of the Moors from

the Mediterranean littoral, and was carried on by both Moslems and

Christians as a profitable, expanding concern for two hundred years

from about 1300.  [Production was centered in Syria, Palestine, the

Dodecanese, Egypt, Cyprus, Crete, Sicily, North Africa, and Southern

Spain. *B*]  The trade (as opposed to production) was under the domi-

nance of the merchant bankers of Italy, with Venice ultimately con-

trolling distribution throughout the then known world.  The first sugar

reached England in 1319, Denmark in 1374, and Sweden in 1390.  It was

an expensive novelty and useful in medicine, being unsurpassed for

making palatable the odious mixtures of therapeutic herbs, entrails,

and other substances of the medieval pharmacopoeia."


Apparently, sugar cultivation in the Caribbean basin was substantial in

the second half of the 16th century leading to cheaper sugar prices and

a shift in leadership in the trade from Venice to Amsterdam.




I'd best sign off now and return to my reading...  I found the book

remaindered for $1.98 at my local Borders Bookstore, so you may have

good luck finding a copy of your own.


My best -- Bertram


Bertram of Bearington                                      Dave Schroeder

Debatable Lands/AEthelmearc/East               Carnegie Mellon University

INTERNET: ds4p at andrew.cmu.edu                        412/731-3230 (Home)

+------------------------ PREME * Press On * PREME ---------------------+



From: jtn at cse.uconn.EDU (J. Terry Nutter)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Apple/Tinker cakes & Martha Washington (WAS: Breakfast poll)

Date: 26 Apr 1995 01:07:18 -0400


Greetings, all, from Angharad ver' Rhuawn.


In the course of describing a recipe for apple cakes, Mistress Chimene



> The recipe as my lord and I classically make it is white flour and white sugar

> so that's not period*.  Exchanging honey would change the fluid balance

> drastically I would think; we've never tried it. *I have some very general

> evicence that sugar as we know it was available by ca. 1250 but was

> exceedingly

> rare, used in medicines and priced and considered practically a spice--nothing

> like as a replacement for honey until much later.  


I have heard this claimed elsewhere, but have not been able to find evidence

for it, and the surviving cookbook corpus seems to contradict it.  


In particular, out of 447 recipes from the 13th and 14th C in England, sugar

appears in 155 (31%), while honey appears in only 31 (7%).  Likewise, out of

205 recipes from the 15th C, sugar appears in 86 (42%), whereas honey appears

in 14 (7%).  (The sample from the 13th and 14th C is very nearly all the

recipes available; the sample from the 15th is much smaller relative to its

population, as well as in absolute numbers, but seems to be reasonably



In other words, sugar appears to be one of the most common ingredients in the

cookbook corpus, while honey is relatively rare. Given the extreme frequency

of saffron in English cuisine despite its cost (it is the second most common

ingredient in the 13th and 14th C, after only salt; sugar, BTW, is third), I

find the argument from expense unconvincing, at least for upper class cuisine.


It is difficult to know how much sugar was used in individual recipes, as

opposed to overall; but we do know that they made candy of the stuff, that

they candied ginger and orange peels, and that they made honest-to-gosh

sweets, even as early as the 14th C.  (We also know that many dishes that

called for sugar were _not_ meant to be overall sweet; there are often

indications of that in the recipes themselves, such as suggestions to

add sugar "to abate the strength", or to sprinkle with sugar before serving.

But in a genuinely sweet dish, there is little reason to suppose that

sugar would be used sparingly.


BTW, I would argue from recipes for cakes if we had many of them; but

I don't think that their absence can necessarily be taken as indicating

that they didn't eat them.  We have no recipes for bread in the major

cookery collections -- for the excellent reason that those cookery

collections originate from cooks, that is, heads of _kitchens_; and

the kitchen was a separate establishment from the _bakery_, which was

responsible for the bread.  I would not be surprised if cakes, were they

widely eaten, also fell under the bakery's purview. I am weak in the

peripheral literature of such things as household accounts and contemporary

literary accounts of meals and the like, which may be the best place to

look for evidence as to whether such things were eaten or not.



-- Angharad/Terry



From: mshapiro at nando.net (mshapiro)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: sugar

Date: 27 Jul 1996 02:38:04 GMT


Pat Lammerts (pat at lalaw.lib.CA.US) wrote:

: Liz Beecher wrote:

: >I know that you guys cover an earlier period but this then should apply

: >to you -  we *do not* use sugar in our re-enactments of the English Civil

: >War (1600s).  Sometimes we use honey but we never use sugar.


: Why don't you use sugar?  Are you a diabetic?  Are you claiming that

: sugar was not available or known or used during the 1600's?


: If so, you are sadly mistaken.  


: There are many extant recipes from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries

: that call for sugar...


Leechdom mentions  both powdered sugar and crystallized sugar in a 1392

cookbook.  The Paxton Letters, a century later say "...send me an other

sugar loff, for my old one is do."


Sugar is _definately_ in period!


Marc Shapiro                    mshapiro at nando.net


THL Alexander Mareschal         Canton of Kappelenburg

                                Barony of Windmasters Hill

                                Kingdom of Atlantia



From: alysk at ix.netcom.com(Elise Fleming )

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca,rec.food.historic

Subject: Re: Sugar (was Hersheys' commercials)

Date: 25 Jul 1996 13:52:39 GMT


talland at io.org (David Tallan) writes:

>>Liz Beecher (beecheer at hpohp4.wgw.bt.co.uk) wrote:

>>: I know that you guys cover an earlier period but this then should

>>apply: to you -  we *do not* use sugar in our re-enactments of the

>>English Civil: War (1600s).  Sometimes we use honey but we never use


>WHY do you *not use* sugar in your re-enactments of the English Civil

>War?  I know that sugar was used in late 13th century English

cooking...(material deleted)


Sugar didn't disappear.  It became increasing common in usage in the

1600s and 1700s.  If, however, the re-enactors are portraying poorer

folk they may not have used the amount of sugar the middle and upper

classes used, if they used sugar at all.  The price of sugar had

certainly been dropping from Elizabeth's time on.  


Robert May's cookery book was first published in 1664 and includes

sugar sprinkled on a neat's tongue pie.  Sugar is added to a stewed

broth, a boiled leg of mutton, a boiled liver pudding, pasties of

various ingredients, an oatmeal pudding, a jelly of almonds, and so on.

It was widely used in dessert-type foods.  So, sugar was certainly used

in foods around the English Civil War.


A question then would be...Has the re-enactor checked cookery books to

see if the food s/he is preparing had sugar added to it?  Would the

battlefield cooks have brought sugar with them or done without?  My

guess is that the common fighting man might not have used sugar in

foods but that the officers would have.


Alys Katherine/Elise



From: b.scott at bscott.async.csuohio.edu (Brian M. Scott)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca,rec.food.historic

Subject: Re: Sugar (was Hersheys' commercials)

Date: 25 Jul 1996 17:08:19 GMT

Organization: Cleveland State University


alysk at ix.netcom.com (Elise Fleming ) says:

> talland at io.org (David Tallan) writes:

>Sugar didn't disappear.  It became increasing common in usage in the

>1600s and 1700s.  If, however, the re-enactors are portraying poorer

>folk they may not have used the amount of sugar the middle and upper

>classes used, if they used sugar at all.  The price of sugar had

>certainly been dropping from Elizabeth's time on.


[rest snipped]


In this connection it may be relevant that there is a Norwegian cookie

(more or less) called 'fattigmann', i.e., 'poor man', apparently because

it uses very little sugar.  It does use an inordinate number of eggs, but

these may well have been much more readily available at the lower end of

the economic scale.


Talan Gwynek



From: gfrose at cotton (Terry Nutter)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Sugar (was Hersheys' commercials)

Date: 26 Jul 1996 13:09:45 GMT


Greetings, all, from Katerine Rountre.


Liz Beecher wrote:

: I know that you guys cover an earlier period but this then should apply

: to you -  we *do not* use sugar in our re-enactments of the English Civil

: War (1600s).  Sometimes we use honey but we never use sugar.


What is your evidence that this is an appropriate historical pattern?

The recipe corpus from the 13th through the 15th centuries does not

support it, and in fact contradicts it explicitly in both its assumptions:

that English cuisine had few sweetened dishes, and that it preferred honey

to sugar.


In fact, sugar is one of the most common ingredients in the corpus

from the 13th C on (among serious culinary historians, the English

":sweet tooth" is almost a cliche), and it is at all times more common

than honey.  Precise statistics for a large range of surviving edited

MSs can be found on the web in an article on this subject at the




Was this decision based on evidence or on supposition?  If it was

based on evidence, can you suggest where I might find it?  I realize

the trend may have reversed in the 17th C, but it seems unlikely.


-- Katerine/Rountry



From: Philip E Cutone <flip+ at andrew.cmu.edu>

Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 12:51:47 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: SC - Honey vrs sugar


"Sue Wensel" <swensel at brandegee.lm.com> writes:

> While honey is a popular SCA-alternate for sugar in recipes, I am

> beginning to doubt how much it really was used in period recipes.


i sound like i'm beating a dead horse, "In the Domestroi...." nearly

every recipe which calls for sweetening, specifies honey. Indeed, i

cannot find a place where sugar is used at all! I cannot

say if this was the translator's (Carolyn Pouncy) choice, or

original.  I imagine that it would depend on region. I don't know the

specifics for sugar cane, but it seems as though it is mostly grown in

humid zone 8 or warmer. (tropical climate)


here is what the online encyclopedia has to say about it:

>     It is believed that sugarcane culture began in New Guinea and

>     then gradually spread throughout the South Pacific, Southeast

>     Asia, and India.  Thereafter it spread to China and to the

>     ancient Arab world, but sugar remained a scarce luxury in Europe.

>     In the 15th and 16th centuries, however, European explorers and

>     colonizers of the Caribbean and South American regions brought

>     sugarcane cuttings with them, and once planted, the cuttings

>     thrived in the warm, moist climate and productive soil.  By the

>     year 1600, sugar production in the subtropical and tropical

>     Americas had become the world's largest and most lucrative

>     industry.


In service,




From: gfrose at cotton.vislab.olemiss.edu (Terry Nutter)

Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 11:25:35 -0500

Subject: Re:  Re(2): SC - Re: sca-cooks V1 #124


Hi, Katerine here.  Derdriu asks:

>While honey is a popular SCA-alternate for sugar in recipes, I am beginning to

>doubt how much it really was used in period recipes.  Can anyone shed some

>light on this?


A long answer to this can be found at http://users/jtn/Articles/sugar.html.

The short version: in England, 13th-15th century, sugar is overwhelmingly

more common in the recipe corpus than honey.



- -- Katerine/Terry



From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Date: Fri, 20 Jun 1997 09:53:40 -0400

Subject: Re: SC - Sweeteners


ysabeau wrote:

> I have recently been looking for recipes that use apple juice or

> apple juice concentrate instead of sugar. I first go the idea from a

> book with healthy toddler recipes. Does anyone have any evidence of

> apple juice being used as a sweetener or any other recipes? I have

> been having a lot of trouble substituting the apple juice into

> regular recipes because of the liquid content. Any suggestions?


This sounds a bit more like a Tibor question ;  ), but I'll have a go at

it. The only instance I've encountered where apple juice was used as a

sweetener is in the production of apple butter, which probably goes back

to the 17th century, if you can go by what's usually written on the jar



On the other hand, there are several preparations of concentrated grape

juice used in Classical Roman cookery, and in both the medieval and

modern Middle East. Also a sort of molasses made from dates, if I

remember correctly. The latter I've also seen in solid form as a fudgy

block. All of these products should be available in a good Middle

Eastern grocery.


The first problem that comes to mind in considering substituting apple

juice for sugar is the liquid issue. In some cases this could be solved

by using frozen apple juice concentrate, or by boiling the juice down to

a syrup. The problem with that is that apple juice contains a whole lot

of other things than just sugar. Unless it is HIGHLY processed, it's

going to contain a certain amount of pectin, so boiling it will

eventually thicken it a good deal more than other comparable juices.

This means you run a risk of burning it.


Another problem with it is that it also contains acids and various other

chemicals which taste just fine in the form of an apple or a glass of

juice, but which are kind of unpleasant in high concentration. Kids may

not care too much for this, especially if they have had any exposure

whatever to the more traditional modern sweeteners. One possible

solution might be to look into using fructose or maltose as a sweetener;

both should be available at a good health food store (and the latter at

a homebrew supply shop). I suggest you avoid glucose and dextrose if you

run across them: they are of no value as sweeteners because while they

are simple sugars like maltose and fructose, they have far less effect

on the taste buds. In essence, they aren't sweet.


Then, of course, there's always honey...





Date: Sun, 3 Aug 1997 19:09:57 -0500

From: gfrose at cotton.vislab.olemiss.edu (Terry Nutter)

Subject: Re: SC - Another Novice Recipe Challenge


Hi, Katerine here.


Someone whose account identifies him/her as Michael Macchione asks:


>Note:  Is brown sugar period???  If so, then I think it would be more

>appropriate than white sugar.


Some sugars called brown are period, although I don't know how closely

they resemble modern ones.  However, period recipes almost never call

for them; another example, I suspect, of preference for more over less

processed goods as more suited to refined persons.


So I tend, unless the recipe specifies otherwise, to use white.  



- -- Katerine/Terry



Date: Sun, 03 Aug 1997 23:43:04 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Another Novice Recipe Challenge


Terry Nutter wrote:

> Some sugars called brown are period, although I don't know how closely

> they resemble modern ones.  However, period recipes almost never call

> for them; another example, I suspect, of preference for more over less

> processed goods as more suited to refined persons.


There are a few recipes calling for sugar which begin with a detailed

process of refining the sugar, generally by boiling as a heavy syrup,

clarifying with egg whites (as for consomme) and then either using as

syrup or by further cooking it to a sort of candy. My impression is

that sugar generally would have been preferred as white as possible, but

whether or not medieval clarified sugar ever really resembled modern

granulated sugar in color, I couldn't say. I have been experimenting a

bit with Mexican sugar in the form of a sort of pig ingot, called a

panella dolce. It's a loaf of brown sugar, made more or less by boiling

sugar cane sap into a thick brown syrup, and poured into a  mold to



The problem with modern brown sugar is that it is almost always made by

mixing a small percentage of molasses into white sugar. I am put in mind

of an old Alan King routine which included the premise that blackstrap

molasses is a health food, derived as a byproduct of sugar refinement,

the joke being King's deduction that the only thing that blackstrap

molasses OR raw sugar contain that isn't in processed white sugar is

dirt. An interesting, if flawed argument, but worth a small chuckle



> So I tend, unless the recipe specifies otherwise, to use white.


There are several grades of sugars, processed to varying degrees,

available in health food stores. One is called "Sugar in the Raw", and

another item, popular in the U.K., is Demarara sugar. These might make

nice compromises between modern granulated sugar, period sugar, and

modern brown sugar.





Date: Mon, 4 Aug 1997 04:07:58 -0500

From: gfrose at cotton.vislab.olemiss.edu (Terry Nutter)

Subject: Re: SC - Another Novice Recipe Challenge


Hi, Katerine here.  Adamantius remarks on period versus modern sugar.  This

is another one of those frustrating areas where we know what they *said*,

but can't really tell what they *meant*.


A lot of recipes specify white sugar.  I recall one (but only one) that

calls for black (which may, for that matter, be a scribal error based on

a misreading of "blanc", a term that was used with sugar after it ceased

to be used in general).  But how white was white? With sugar, as with

flour, it's difficult to know.


Certainly period sugar was processed differently from modern.  Granulation

is a *very* recent innovation; sugar in period came in cakes, most often

cone shaped, and had to be grated or ground off them. A number of recipes,

as Adamantius points out, suggest that the cakes were sometimes contaminated

with *something*, which one clarified out.


But exactly what, failing archaeology, I don't see any way to know.


Something like turbonado may be more to the point; then again, it may

just be *differently* less-than-modern-white.




It's a general problem with ingredients.  Almost none of what we use is

really the same as what they had.  One does the best one can, and hopes that

the differences are not too great to approximate the final effect.



- -- Katerine/Terry



Date: Mon, 01 Sep 1997 09:02:39 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: OOP - Boiling veggies to syrup (was: SC - long white turnips)


Par Leijonhufvud wrote:

> Not period (to the best of my knowledge), but...

> Try the rootstocks from reeds (Phragmites communis); they store sucrose,

> so you can get a syrup by dissolving the sugar out of the fiborous mass,

> and reducing the liquid.


> /UlfR


Periodicity in this case would depend on the variety of reed used, and

the part of the plant. Sugar cane is a reed too. But I get your point,

and thanks for the information!





Date: Sat, 13 Sep 1997 09:26:43 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Julleran's Sugar/Candy Glass


Elise Fleming wrote:

> Curye on Inglysch, Book V: Goud Kokery, #13, has "To make suger plate."

>  Sugar is melted to a specific temperature and removed from the fire

> and stirred until it turns from its brown color to yellow. (The sugar

> must not have been pure white to start with...probably "cooking" sugar

> would have been of a less-fine quality than what would have been served

> "upstairs".


Quite possibly true, also since one of the complaints against sugar

clarified with egg white is the charge of "clamminess", interesting in

itself since there seems to be no recipe evidence that period Europeans

ate clams very often...But I digress...


Another possibility is that since the line between hard crack syrup and

caramel is a fine one, especially in non-shiny pots and the uneven light

some period kitchens had, the sugar may have become partially

caramelized by the time the cook realized it had reached the correct



More likely a combination of the two, I suspect.





Date: Thu, 25 Sep 1997 12:05:21 -0500

From: L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt <liontamr at ptd.net>

Subject: SC - Re: cane honey


>>Noemi gave in a recipe for a fried flower:


>>> Flavor with cane honey.


>>Did this indeed say *cane honey*? Or perhaps *cane sugar or honey*?

>>If it did say *cane honey*, what is *cane honey*?


>>Stefan li Rous

>At a guess, molasses.



A better guess might be treacle (or spelled triacle closer to period), which

is in consistency honey-like and, like molasses, is a cane or beet sugar

refinement by-product. I read somehwere that it was available in ancient

Rome, and that's how it's use spread to the Brits. I can't vouch for that

information, however, since i can't remember the source. It is more

'treated' than molasses, though, and is not sulphured. Molasses will do as a

replacement, but it's not precisely the same.


BTW it was used primarily in period by apothecaries, who used it to sweeten

medecinal mixtures. When it was 'discovered' by the masses, they had to buy

it from the apothecaries. To this day some consider a spoonful of molasses

or treacle to be medicinal!





Date: Thu, 25 Sep 1997 13:00:51 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Re: cane honey


Elizabeth David's, English Bread and Yeast Cookery, has a section about

treacle and its manufacture.





Date: Thu, 25 Sep 1997 15:56:14 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Rose Doughnut recipe


Varju at aol.com wrote:

> The actual text is "flavor with cane honey".  Unfortunately I am working from

> a translation, so I'm not sure what was originally written.


> Noemi


Early Roman accounts of cane sugar refer to "honey that comes from a

reed". I wouldn't be at all surprised if the cane honey referred to here

was a cane sugar syrup, somewhat more refined than molasses. More like

the syrup that is still used (and was used in period) on fried pastries

in North Africa, parts of the Mediterranean coast of Europe, the

Balkans, and Turkey.





Date: Wed, 22 Oct 1997 15:03:32 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Re: Pickled egg recipes -- BEETS?


> I think that the sugar beet is actually period. There is a European Castle

> that I saw on A&E that was from the 1400's that has sugar beets as part of

> the Device of the owners, a baron something or other.  I will try to find

> the particulars.


>                      Lord Jonathus Fitche d'Abercrombie


While the sugar beet may be period, extraction of beet sugar apparently

isn't.  Commercial sugar extraction from beets is a 19th century thing.

I suspect the sugar beet was subjected to careful breeding to produce a

better raw material for sugar.  I did a fast filler for the Black Star

some time ago, but I was very cursory in researching beet sugar since

production was OOP.





Date: Sun, 2 Nov 1997 08:10:43 -0600 (CST)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com (Elise Fleming )

Subject: SC - Sugar Stuff!  Was: Cane Honey??


I wrote:

>Could the reference to "cane honey" be the incomplete curing of a

>sugar loaf?  Sugar loaves sometimes were incompletely cured, leaving a

>liquid residue in the middle.  


And Stefan replied:

>Perhaps I just need to go look up how sugar was/is made, but what is

>this curing of the sugar loaf. Isn't this just the evaporation of the

>water left in the sugar? If so, wouldn't this liquid then be the same

>as solution of sugar and water? If so, I would expect the medieval

>cook to make his own from sugar and water rather than hunt around for

>an incompletely cured sugar loaf, even if he had several.


Here is a lot of information, including a reference to molasses,  

"powdered sugar", and liquid sugar.


I just re-found some photocopies of a book on the history of sugar

(title isn't on the pages, silly me!).  It describes, however, the

making of sugar.  One part says (p. 59, "Methods of Refining") "The

refuse of the cane was used to produce a poor syrup, and Ibn el Awam

says that the surplus juices were sometimes given to horses."


Here's another paragraph (p. 61):  "Sugar was sometimes purchased as a

liquid, 'mel de calamele' or 'mel sucre' as it was called; sometimes in

treated form, perfumed with rosewater or with essence of violets --

'sucre roset' in France, 'zuchero rosato' or 'violato' in Italy."


Another section describes the refining process and another to the

different types of sugar produced.  "Many of these are described by

Pegalotti, a travelling agent of a Florentine banking form, who wrote

his observations in the fourteenth century.  The finest quality of loaf

sugar produced at the time was one reserved almost entirely for the use

of the Sultan of Egypt, so that very little found its way into the

ordinary market.  'Mucchera' sugar, as it was called, was

double-refined, and was manufactured in small pyramid-shaped loaves

weighing about a pound.  It was similar in appearance to the slighly

less refined 'Bambillonia' or 'Cairene' sugar which was more easily

obtainable.  Pegalotti speaks next of the 'Caffetino' sugar, of which

there were two grades; one resembling the 'Bambillonia', the other made

in larger cones, rounded at the top, and often imperfectly cured in the

centre.  'Muscovado' or 'Musciatta' sugar, made in large loaves of up

to seven pounds, and likewise rounded at the top, was popular among

dealers, as it was easily broken into saleable quantities.  

'Damaschino', sometimes flat and sometimes pointed, is described as the

least valuable of the loaf sugars, probably on account of the smallness

of its loaves and the wastage that would result from its crumbling."


" 'Sugar Crystal' was also to be obtained, the finest coming from

Cyprus and others of varying sized graines from Rhodes, Syria and

Alexandria.  The crystal, or, as it was sometimes called, THE POWDERED

SUGAR (emphasis is Alys's), was made from disintegrated loaves, and was

often used to fill the spaces in the chests into which the loaves were

packed for transport.  Candy and molasses were also on the market, and

syrups were exported from Alexandria in glass jars."


There apparantly are many references to sugar and its purchase in

documents of the time.  We tend to look just in cookery books, but the

records of journeys, the household accounts, etc., give a wider view.  

Whichever book on sugar this is, it is probably titled "The History of

Sugar".  I did a research paper to prove or disprove the existence of

"powdered sugar" in the Middle Ages/Renaissance.  As you can see, I

found it, but not in the form I expected.  Modern powered sugar is much

more finely ground than one can do with mortar and pestle, but a finely

ground sugar can be obtained with a little muscle power.


Alys Katharine



Date: Mon, 03 Nov 1997 10:11:55 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Sugar Stuff!


Gedney, Jeff wrote:

> This talk of cane syrup has me thinking...




> I think that a close approximation could be reached by making a syrup from

> 3 cups white sugar, and 1 cup brown sugar, and 2 - 3 cups water.  My

> personal tastes would have me add the strained juice of 1/2 lemon for

> each 4 cups sugar(s) before boiling.


Sounds about right. It may even be that the lemon is something you like

the flavor of, after having seen and tasted it in syrups where it has

been added for another reason. Acids are sometimes added to syrups

before boiling to partially break down any complex sugar molecules that

may be present, into glucose or other "invert" sugar. This is supposed

to help keep the syrup from crytallizing.





Date: Mon, 03 Nov 1997 09:00:17 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: Re- SC - Sugar Stuff!  Was-


Mark Harris wrote:

> Then  Adamantius replied:

> > Sounds suspiciously similar to the syrup on Baklava, doesn't it? Sounds

> > like cane honey, too, given the translations of "mel sucre", etc.


> Maybe. What are the translations of "mel sucre" and "mel de calamele" for

> those of us less educated in foriegn languages? So is this sugar syrup on

> Baklava made from just sugar and water?


Mel is honey, as in hydromel, a form of mead made from honey, water, and

some form of wild yeast. Sucre is a cognate of sugar, used in this case

as an adjective, meaning, more or less, sugar honey.


Mel de calamele is probably a caramelized sugar syrup. Calemele is an

old French word that is many cases denotes what we now call caramel,

meaning semi-burnt or partially oxidized sugar, which is why caramel is

brown. However the French "calamele" is derived from the Latin

"calamus", meaning cane or reed, so mel de calamele might not be

caramelized, but rather a simple sugar syrup, of a similar gravity of

thickness to honey.


The syrup found on baklava and various other pastries in the Middle East

and around the Mediterranean Basin is generally either honey with added

flavorings, such as rosewater and cinnamon, or sugar syrup with similar

flavorings, or sometimes a mixture of the two, suitably seasoned as






Date: Wed, 05 Nov 1997 22:30:53 PST

From: "Joe Tolbert" <jlt8 at hotmail.com>

Subject: SC - Honey of cane


A spanish speaking friend says that "honey of cane"

is a transliteration of the spanish "Miell(sp?) de cana", which

should be TRANSLATED as molasses or cane syrup.


          When I was a child (I seem to be saying that a lot lately)

we raised sugar cane. The cane was cut and brought to the "mill"

or crusher ( a frame with 2 rollers mounted vertically and geared

togather. A shaft stuck up from one roller. A pole (horizontal)

about 15-20 feet long attached to the top of this shaft. The other

end of the pole attached to a horse or mule )- the mule walked around in

a circle,the rollers turned,you fed the cane stalks between

the rollers,the juice was squeezed out and caught in a tub.

          The juice was taken to a cooking pan (the pan is about

4 feet wide and 8 feet long with baffles sticking out from

alternate sides about every 6 inches to create a long ,winding

passage.It is made of copper with wooden sides about 4-5 inches

deep it rest on a furnace where you keep a fire burning for days.

          Cooking syrup is a continous process, some what as I

imagine making maple sugar to be, the raw cane juice is poured into the

pan at one end. and the molasses is taken out at the other end

traditionally it was put up into either glass jars ir tin pails.

The trick in cooking it was to concentrate the syrup just short

of the point where sugar would crystalize out at room temperature.

If not concentrated enough it will spoil. If you cook it far enough

sugar will separate out of solution at room temperature,the liquid

poured off to be further concentrated or used as molasses.

The crystalized sugar is RAW SUGAR, brown and sticky,but not to be

confused with what is sold as BROWN SUGAR. The raw sugar may be

further refined by disolving and re-crystalizing it. The molasses

is a saturated sugar solution cuntaining most of the minerals in

the original juice,and whatever vitamins survived the cooking - It

is what rum is made from.


Joseph L. Tolbert,Jr

jlt6 at hotmail.com



Date: Thu, 06 Nov 1997 10:42:06 -0500

From: Woeller D <alaric05 at erols.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Honey of cane


Joe Tolbert wrote:

>           A spanish speaking friend says that "honey of cane"

> is a transliteration of the spanish "Miell(sp?) de cana", which

> should be TRANSLATED as molasses or cane syrup.


Sorry to throw a wrench in, but when I used to help an elderly (105)

mexican woman cook traditional mexican food, she would make sugar

syrup, called 'miel de canella', using heated water and sugar, which she

scraped off of these little cones of partially processed sugar (shape is

a lot like those cones of sugar Civil War Recreationists use, but the

loaf is brown and stickier, but sweet and rich, didn't taste like

molasses) bought in Mexico. She used molasses for other things, but not






Date: Sun, 04 Jan 1998 16:21:12 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: SC - Sugar, onions...


> From: Tara Sersen <ladycharissa at geocities.com>

> OK, I have some questions for everyone.  The first is to settle a

> discussion a friend and I had a few weeks ago. We were discussing the

> ingredient sugar in period recipies.  It occured to us that the first

> time we can recall hearing about sugar cane is in the New World,

> particularly in terms of rum production. Neither of us could think of

> any period reference for molassas or rum.  So, we figured that the sugar

> being called for might be beet sugar.  If we're right, then very late

> period might have used cane sugar, but not earlier periods.  Does anyone

> know what is right?


Very early period practice in Europe appears to indicate that honey was

almost exclusively used for sweetening foods. Cane sugar was known, but

rather rare in Europe, and would more or less have come under the

heading of a pharmaceutical. Around the time of the first Crusade, the

Crusaders returned to Europe with a taste for many of the foods that we

now associate with medieval European cooking. As a result, things like

sugar in varying states of processing began to appear in European

markets. Still quite expensive, and used accordingly, through most of

period. Sugar cane as a commercial product in its own right, and locally

produced European sugar (in Cyprus, for instance), appear more or less

on a very small scale in late period. One of the reasons things like

molasses and rum don't seem to appear in period recipes is simply that

the production of sugar was still being controlled by the people native

to the areas where sugar cane grows. Molasses and rum used by Europeans

are largely a function of Europeans actually growing and processing

sugar, which is more or less a function of colonialism, which doesn't

really occur within period.


Beet sugar is the result of a process developed in the early 19th

century, IIRC.



Crown Province of Ostgardr, East Kingdom



Date: Sun, 1 Feb 1998 19:59:11 -0800

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - sugar/was rose sekanjabin/was coffee and tea


> david friedman wrote:

> > Why do you assume sugar is expensive in al-Islam? Of course it is

> expensive

> > in Frangistan, since they have to import it from the civilized world,

> but

> > we grow the stuff.

> Once agin I ask your pardon, your Grace. I had assumes that sugar was

> expensive due to the refining process which takes lots of water and a

> small amount of time. How expensive was sugar in al-Islam? perhaps a

> figure relative to the price of bread would help me understand.

> .Crystal of the Westermark


I can't give you a value, but sugar was a widely grown and used product in

the Islamic lands.  It originates in India.  It was transplanted to the

Euphrates before the rise of Islam and it is probably there that it was

first refined.  These areas became part of al-Islam before 700 CE.


Sugar was then transplanted to Egypt, Spain, Cyprus, Sicily, and anywhere

else it would grow under Islamic rule.  Europeans first gained control of

sugar fields in Cyprus when they seized the island.


The Portuguese and the Spanish took the cane to the Cape Verde Islands, the

Canaries, the Azores, West Africa and the New World.


Protestant Northern Europe continued to buy sugar from the Islamic countries

until the early 17th Century, when some of these nations seized some of the

sugar islands in the Caribbean.





Date: Mon, 9 Feb 1998 23:33:27 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - sugar


> A little over a week ago, Bear said:

> I can't give you a value, but sugar was a widely grown and used product in

> the Islamic lands.  It originates in India.  It was transplanted to the

> Euphrates before the rise of Islam and it is probably there that it was

> first refined.  These areas became part of al-Islam before 700 CE.

> --------

> Why would someone go to the trouble to transplating it a great distance

> unless it was already being refined? Or is there evidence of people

> squeezing the juice onto/into food directly from the plant?

> Stefan li Rous


Nearchus found sugar cane being chewed in India, but does not make any

comments on sugar refining.  Shortly after this, it is believed that sugar

cane was transplanted to the Euphrates.


While evidence of refined sugar has been dated to the 5th Century in the

Middle East, sugar was under cultivation in India, China, the Euphrates

Valley and in Polynesia.  There is no conclusive evidence as to where and

when sugar refining began and how the technology spread.


While I am willing to accept the information I have gleaned as basically

correct, the sources are somewhat dated.





Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 00:26:03 -0500

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: SC - re:  blancmanger - help!


> Hi all, kat here ...still having trouble with that blancmanger.  <snip>

> Garnish of sugar what????  The original I have didn't say anything about sugar... I don't have it with me (work) but I believe it was the one from the Harleian ms.  Which version talks about sugar raspings? And what are they, and how do I use them?  <<Bambi eyes>>  Tell me more!!!  Please?  :-)


Sugar raspings are gratings from a big lump or loaf of sugar. Granulated

sugar makes a decent substitute, but if you can find a big chunk of

light (in color and flavor) sugar, you'll need to grate it with the

smallest side of a box grater, or a nutmeg grater, or a file or rasp,

hence the name.





Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 08:01:07 -0600 (CST)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com (Elise Fleming)

Subject: SC - Re: sugar raspings


Greetings!  Stefan wrote:

>I would assume these are slivers of sugar sliced from a sugar cone.

>Or would these just be large particles rather than slivers?


"Rasping" is the clue.  Rasping involves a grater-like tool rather than

a knife, although a serrated knife might work.


>What is the best modern source? Just use granulated sugar? Make

>a sugar syrup and dry into a block of sugar and then shave slivers

>off with a peeler or grater of some sort? Or is there a ready-made

>suger confection, such as for cake decorations, that would approximate



You could probably get by with just granulated sugar. You might want

to try "turbinado" sugar which has larger crystals, or a mixture of

both.  Modern sugar cones (which I found in a German import shop here

in Cleveland) would produce a "fine-ish" crystal if it were rasped, but

I suspect that as one "rasped" the cone, larger chunks might fall off.

The question would be...Would the cook then select the smaller crystals

to put on the food, picking out the larger chunks or perhaps smashing

them down, or would they be going for a larger-crystal size?


Alys Katharine



Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 17:13:26 -0600 (CST)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com (Elise Fleming)

Subject: SC - Re: Sugar


Greetings!  Phlip asked about sugar references.  When doing my research

I went to the public library and found two good books on the history of

sugar.  One was called _The History of Sugar_, actually.  Try the

library and see what books they have.  A man named Strong was the

author of one of them.  (The specific sources were listed in my

bibliography on the search for powdered sugar that TI printed a number

of years ago.)  Basic recommendation:  Go to the library.  :-) Was that

of any use???


Alys Katharine



Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 11:35:21 -0800

From: "Crystal A. Isaac" <crystal at pdr-is.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Sugar Maples


Par Leijonhuvud wrote:

> On Mon, 23 Mar 1998, Tim & Dee wrote:

> > Is/are there any sugar maple trees in Europe?  And what is Sweet

> > Water?


> You *can* get a sweet syrup from birches, but I don't know if it was

> done in the middle ages.


There is some precedent in using tree sap as a fermentable sweetener. In

her text, A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food & Drink: Production &

Distribution (page 229), Ann Hagan notes "Saps were apparently

fermented: Bartholomew Anglicus observes that birch and honey would make

a strong drink, and sycamore saps could be fermented with ale or yeast."

C. Anne Wilson further comments, "Birch tree wine was fermented from the

spring sap tapped from tree trunks in Sussex and in the Scottish

highlands. The sap could also be brewed as ale with only a quarter of

the normal allowance of malt." in Food and Drink in Britain from the

Stone Age to the 19th Century (page 383).


I will cheerfully make beer/mead/nonalcoholics for anybody who has

*primary* documentation for tree sap in medieval drinks (other than

Bartholomew Anglicus, I've already found a copy of him).


Crystal of the Westermark



Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 17:20:40 EST

From: KKimes1066 <KKimes1066 at aol.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Sugar Maples


>Acer sacchrum (sugar maple) does grow in Europe. I think it is native there.

>              Percival


I thought wrong, the only maple native to Europe is the common maple

Acer campestre. Although, as with all maples one can get a sweet juice

from the common maple, just not a robust as Acer sacchrum.


                        Glad I caught my own mistake,




Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 12:44:38 EST

From: THL Renata <THLRenata at aol.com>

Subject: Re:  SC - Sir Hugh Platt Musk Recipe ?


Meliora has asked, so here it is:


(BTW, it's my mistake, but Sir Hugh spelled his last name with only one "t" -

Plat. Sorry.)


How to make musk-sugar from common-sugar


Bruise 4 or 6 graines of Muske: place tham in a piece of sarcenet, fine* Lawn

or Cambrick doubled: lay this in the bottom of a gally pot, strewing your

sugar thereon: stop your pot close, and all the Sugar in a few daies will both

sent and taste of Muske: and you may lay more sugar theron, when you have

spent that sugar, which will also receive the like impression. Such Muske-

sugar is sold for two shillings the pound.


*I am guessing that this work is "fine" -- my copy is not perfect and the

word is partially obliterated.


Too bad Sir Hugh doesn't mention what one does with Muske-sugar once one has

made or bought it.





Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 00:01:16 -0700

From: Rob Baldassano <odla at best.com>

Subject: RE: SC - Sugar Questions


>Below are two recipes I used as a basis for a sugar-paste confection

>entered in a recent A&S competition. One of the judges made the comment

>that "... powdered sugar is not period." My question is, if a late period

>recipe calls for "refined sugar" ground in a mortar, why isn't powdered

>sugar period? What should I have used instead? This same judge made a

>comment on another entry of mine, saying "Brown sugar is not period- the

>raw sugar would be great." I'd like opinions from the list.


- -Margritte


As for the use of powdered sugar, it contains cornstarch, you would want to use

the finest refined sugar you could find instead of powdered sugar. Judges may evaluate this difference in various degrees.


If you know you are using an ingredient that is not exactly specified in

the recipe, in your documentation note you have done so and the reasoning for the change. I have a personal preference to baste with butter or margarine rather than lard. I don't buy or use lard in my cooking, usually there is no significant change of taste in the resulting dish. I state this in my documentation.


Euriol of Lothian



Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 12:39:35 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Sugar Questions


Molasses is the draining of crude unrefined sugar. Natural brown sugar will

settle out of molasses, so brown sugar has been available since sugar

refining got started.  It was probably not used outside of the sugar growing

regions of Europe.  An equal weight of refined sugar would bring a higher

price and would therefore be more valuable to the trade.


Molasses is the product of crushing, steeping and cooking the cane.  As I

understand the process, further cooking of the molasses and skimming off the

impurities produces raw sugar and treacle.  The sugar can be further refined

by cooking and skimming.





Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 14:32:40 -0500 (CDT)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com (Elise Fleming)

Subject: SC - Re:  Sugar Questions


Magritte wrote:

>Below are two recipes I used as a basis for a sugar-paste confection

>entered in a recent A&S competition. One of the judges made the

>comment that "... powdered sugar is not period." My question is, if a

>late period recipe calls for "refined sugar" ground in a mortar, why

>isn't powdered sugar period? What should I have used instead?


I hope you can pluck an answer from the following! Modern powdered

sugar generally contains corn starch to make the sugar flow better and

eliminate clumping.  It is also ground exceedingly fine, much finer

than probably could have been achieved with forceful grinding in a

mortar and with sieving (searcing) through silk, fine linen, lawn, etc.


However, my personal judging comment would be to accept powdered sugar

as a substitute for period, finely-ground-and-searced sugar, especially

if the entrant pointed out his/her knowledge that modern powdered sugar

is much different.  Now, in the Middle Kingdom at least, you could

garner additional points if you went to the trouble of grinding up the

sugar you needed and sieved it to make it as fine as possible.  You

might even be able to get away with grinding it up in a blender or

other machine.


BTW, there are period references to "powdered sugar" but the research I

have done indicates that "powdered" referred to the crystals and small

bits that fell off the cone, not to something as finely ground as we

are accustomed to.


> This same judge made a comment on another entry of mine, saying

>"Brown sugar is not period- the raw sugar would be great." I'd like

>opinions from the list.


Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding of modern

"brown sugar" is that some of the molasses-y stuff has been added back,

and therefore is not "period".  Period folk wanted the whitest sugar

possible, or that they could afford.  Raw sugar, turbinado sugar, might

be closer, depending on the original recipe.


One thing that might be interesting to do is to go to the library and

get out a few books dealing with the history of sugar. There are

several available, mostly written in the 30s or 40s. Now, while more

period cookery books have been "unearthed" after that date, what you

will gain is an understanding of how sugar was made early on, and what

changes occurred in sugar production, such as the making of molasses,

brown sugar, etc.  A little of this judiciously added to your

documentation can add to your explanation of why you chose the modern

substitute that you did.


Alys Katharine



Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 19:29:37 -0400

From: renfrow at skylands.net (Cindy Renfrow)

Subject: RE: SC - Sugar Questions


This same judge made a

>comment on another entry of mine, saying "Brown sugar is not period- the

>raw sugar would be great." I'd like opinions from the list.



Hello!  Here are a few references for the use of 'blake sugre':


Harleian MS. 279 Dyuerse Bake Metis #xviij Flathons, and Harl. MS 4016 #20

Flathonys both call for black sugar (blake/blak) or white sugar.


Harl. MS. 279 Potage Dyvers, #121 Rapeye, calls for blake sugre or hony.


Harl. MS. 279 Potage Dyvers, #xj Froyde almoundys, and  Harl. MS 4016 #111

Froyte de almondes both call for black  (blake/blak) sugar in addition to

white sugar.


I've taken blake sugre to mean an unrefined sugar, similar to Mexican pilon

or piloncillo or panela (which are produced by boiling down sugar cane

juice in an iron kettle).  As stated already, today's brown sugar is

processed white sugar with molasses added.  Given a choice, I'd substitute

dark brown sugar for blake sugre for sanitary reasons -- whenever I've

managed to find panela it's been displayed unwrapped & was swarming with

flies.  Yum!


Cindy Renfrow/Sincgiefu

renfrow at skylands.net

Author & Publisher of "Take a Thousand Eggs or More, A Collection of 15th

Century Recipes" and "A Sip Through Time, A Collection of Old Brewing




Date: Thu, 02 Jul 1998 16:34:15 +1000

From: Robyn Probert <robyn.probert at lawpoint.com.au>

Subject: RE: SC - Sugar Questions


At 04:48 AM 29/06/98 -0700, Tyrca wrote:

>Some might be interested that last week at Albertson's, I saw a box

>labeled "Raw Sugar" on the  shelf next to the brown Sugar.   Could

>this  be  related to cone sugar?


My father used to work as a chemist for CSR (Colonial Sugar Refinery). He

explained the process to me in detail...


First, they harvest the cane. At the mill on site, they press the juice out

of it. The clear juice is strained, then they add a small amount of lime as

a floculant to precipitate out some big impurities and let it settle. Then

they boil the juice to concentrarte the sugar - this makes it go brown too.

Then they throw in some sugar to act as nucleii and let it crystalise out.

They put the crystals/syrup in a centrifuge and spin the syrup out.


The crystals are Raw Sugar. They are about 99.05% pure sucrose with a

coating of syrup and impurities (these are what give the flavour).


Before they had centrifuges they used to pack the crystals/syrup in cone

shaped wire sieves to strain the syrup out. Then they would wash off any

remaining syrup with hot water and let it dry in the cones.


The syrup from the mill is called Mill Molassas or Blackstap Molassas. It is

very high in minerals and bug parts and is used as a food suplement. They

also put it back on the fields as a fertiliser!


Meanwhile, the raw sugar goes to the refinery. It is dissolved, more lime

added, CO2 bubbled through and then passed over charcoal to whiten it. Then

it is boiled again and crystalised out. The first and second rounds of this

produce white crystals. These are washed further to become White Sugar which

is 99.2% sucrose.


The third round produces white crystals too but by now the syrup is getting

pretty dark. They add some syrup back to the third pass crystals along with

fruit sugar (levulose, which they make chemically by inverting one of the

carbon rings) and let it dry. This becomes Brown Sugar which is 98.8%

sucrose. It is really white sugar crystals with a syrup coating. The fruit

sugar is hydroscopic which is why Brown Sugar stays moist.


The rest of the syrup is called Refinery Molasses and is used to make Rum

and commercial pure alcohol.


Still with me? In summary - cone sugar would have a chemical makeup and

taste somewhere between raw and processed sugar. Raw sugar is probably the

closest substitute but has a larger grain size, but running through a

blender/food processor would fix that.


Well, you did ask...




Date: Wed, 8 Jul 1998 10:59:23 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Re:  Sugar Questions


> Treacle, usually referred to as a by-product of sugar-refining, was

> being used as a medicine at least by the 15th century.  So was this

> being imported separately?

> Caroline

> > Originally, white sugar was all that was imported into Europe.  By the 15th

> > Century, the wily Venetians were importing "black sugar" and refining it, so

> > they could pocket the refiner's profits. This suggests that the less

> > refined sugars would be more available in later period cooking than in

> > earlier period cooking with exceptions for sugar producing regions.

> >

> > Bear


The sources I referenced said little about sugar by-products.


A tariff list for the Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099-1291, precise date of the

list unstated) lists sugar (with several different classifications), but

does not list any sugar by-products.  Similarly, I do not recall any mention

of sugar by-products as trade goods until molasses starts being distilled

into rum.  This suggests that medicinal treacle was probably shipped in

small, expensive quantities to those apothecaries who requested it.  It may

be that the European need was supplied by Sicily (1091) and Cyprus (1191),

sugar producing areas in Christian hands.


As an unsubstantiated opinion, I would expect sugar and treacle to be

purchased together when dealing directly with the producer, but to be sold

as separate products after the initial purchase, since the retail markets

seem to have different clients.





Date: Thu, 03 Sep 1998 09:55:16 -0400

From: Phil & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Sugar availability



> In our area, PBS has been having a series of programs called "Into the

> Rising Sun", concerning the late 15th Portugese explorations of the

> African coast in their efforts to reach India and the spice trade.  A

> section tonight, which I wasn't able to take notes on but just note, was

> the colonization of a number of volcanic soiled islands, off Ghana, I

> think.  The sugar cane flourished, the slave trade made sugar much more

> widely available.  In 1517, revolts by the slaves made some of the

> plantation owners or managers move to Brazil, to set up the same process

> there.

> I found this interesting because of the number of recipes we find in

> period that call for increased use of sugar. It's so easy to say, "It

> got more popular"  without really thinking of what it took to make an

> item available.  Apparently, sugar cane doesn't flourish just anywhere.

> [Those of you with farm backgrounds are undoubtedly snickering at this

> 'city slicker'.]  Attempts had been made in a lot of places to increase

> sugar production for the demand at home.  So, tastes didn't really

> change--it was now possible to indulge those tastes.  And, they did.


The increased availability of sugar did happen, more or less, as you describe.

Before that, though, some sugar cane was being grown on the island of Cyprus,

too, which seems to have been the first wave of decreased costs and sugar-use

increase, maybe in the mid-15th century. I'm working from memory again, here,

so my date may be off a bit.


If you look at, say, the early 14th-century prototypes for _The Forme of Cury_

found in "Curye On Inglysch", then look at _The Forme of Cury_ itself, and

then look at the recipes in the manuscripts commonly known as the Two

Fifteenth Century Cookery-Books, you'll see that somewhere along the line,

many of the recipes that originally called for honey evolved into sugar

recipes with notes stating that you can use honey if you have no sugar, to

recipes calling for sugar. Of course these recipe sources seem to have been

for the wealthy "upper crust", while many of the later-period sources are

apparently intended for the lesser nobility and the upper middle class, so it

may well have taken that long for the increased availability to trickle down

to the middle classes.





From: clevin at ripco.com (Craig Levin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Sugar in period/SCA

Date: 22 Oct 1998 18:24:54 GMT

Organization: Ripco Internet, Chicago


Poohishns <poohishns at aol.com> wrote:

>I know this is a regular question. Could you please point me in the direction I

>need to go for documentation of sugar in Period? I would imagine it was quite

>costly and not at all like the sugar we buy from the grocery. Would Raw sugar

>be more like what was used in the middle ages? I was also wondering about Brown

>sugar and Molasses. Curious from both a cooking and a brewing(Cordials)



Documenting the existence of sugar in certain parts of premodern

Europe is pretty easy. The Iberian Peninsula had sugar cane as

early as the 900's (p. 19, Fletcher's The Quest for El Cid).

Sugar was a major export of the island of Madeira almost as soon

as it was settled, along with their excellent wine (see Duncan's

Atlantic Islands), and that's in the fifteenth century. From what

I can gather from Duncan's work, which talks about the sugar

business in some detail, the product could be either like brown

sugar, turbinado, or white sugar. Brown, naturally, was cheaper

than the others. It came in "loaves." I've seen _modern_ sugar

loaves made from brown suar, and they're kind of neat. More like

cones the size of an ice cream cone than like loaves of bread,



Dom Pedro de Alcazar

Barony of Storvik, Atlantia

Storvik Pursuivant

Argent, a tower purpure between 3 bunches of grapes proper



clevin at ripco.com

Craig Levin



From: EAM <SPly at nospam.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Sugar in period/SCA

Date: 22 Oct 1998 20:14:19 GMT

Organization: Serendib Polymathics


Craig Levin, clevin at ripco.com writes:

>the product could be either like brown

>sugar, turbinado, or white sugar. Brown, naturally, was cheaper

>than the others. It came in "loaves." I've seen _modern_ sugar

>loaves made from brown suar, and they're kind of neat. More like

>cones the size of an ice cream cone than like loaves of bread,



More than you ever wanted to know about sugar, from someone who does

extensive late-period cookery and used to live just around a river bend

from the C&H plant:


Brown sugar, as we know it now, isn't like 'brown sugar' in period.  The

stuff you get in boxes and bags at the grocery store is ordinary, modern,

white, granulated sugar, with a portion of the molasses added back for

color, texture, and flavor.  This is why it's vaguely moist and packs

into the measuring cup.


Period brown sugar would have been more on the order of the brown sugar

cones you can buy in Mexican markets called 'piloncillo' (or less- polite

things related to the cones' perceived resemblance to male sexual

organs).  These really are unrefined sugar, with all the molasses left

in, and the form hasn't changed much in centuries. They're not typically

very big, ranging from about 2"/ 5 cm to 4"/ 10 cm high, and are about

1"/ 2.5 cm across the base, and the texture is about what you'd expect

for solidified cooked-down cane juice, fairly hard and uniform.


Turbinado sugar is partially refined (in centrifuges, hence the name) and

usually coarsely granulated.  Raw sugar in the markets is a similar end

product, but is usually made by a different process. (Truly raw sugar,

made directly from the cane juice, is awfully hard to find outside of

piloncillo, although it does occur as a particularly snooty kind of

British coffee sugar.)  These sorts of products have a portion of the

molasses left in, and are therefore light brown in color (or 'blond' as

one manufacture advertizes it); the health- food crowd makes much of the

fact that there are some vitamins and minerals in the molasses that are

therefore present in turbinado/ raw sugar and absent in white sugar.


It's tempting to think that period sugar would have resembled raw sugar,

since it's deliberately 'more natural' that white sugar, but at least

some of it didn't.  Receipts for sugar- based illusion foods specify 'the

whitest and best' sugar to make simulated plates and glassware from what

we would now call gum paste.  These recipes clearly expect that the sugar

is actually _white_, and appearance is more important than taste in these



White sugar is pure or nearly pure sucrose, with every trace of molasses

removed.  In period (well, late- and post- period, which is all I'm

really familiar with), it came in cones like modern piloncillo, only

perhaps a bit larger (up to 6"/ 15 cm high and 4"/ 10 cm across the

base).  The cook crushed bits of the cone or scraped it to get something

pretty much resembling modern granulated sugar. Colonial Williamsburg

used to sell cone sugar, wrapped in the traditional blue paper, since the

form continued through their period and later, and you can see

representations of them (with and without the blue wrapping) as charges

on some guild and wealthy- Victorian- grocer heraldry, or hanging outside

very old grocery shops as signs.  You can get lumps of white sugar, very

similar in texture to the Williamsburg cones and that are intended for

tea and coffee, at your friendly neighborhood gourmet store; the brand I

buy has a parrot on the label (and I believe is called 'Perrico', which

is Spanish for parrot...).


Molasses is the liquid part that is separated out from the solid sugar in

the manufacture; it can be fairly light (close to the original cane

juice, just cooked down) to 'blackstrap', which is what's left after

you've cooked and squeezed every bit of sucrose you can out of the

original juice.  Such vitamins and minerals as are in cane juice (not a

lot, anyway) stay in the molasses or are broken down by the heat.  If you

live in or mail order from Louisiana, you can get 'cane syrup', which is

cane juice boiled down but otherwise un- messed- with, and is wonderful

stuff.  (British 'golden syrup' is similar, but not in the same league,

taste- wise, since I believe these days they add corn syrup for density.)


--  Elizabeth



From: vanishwood at aol.comyadayada (Vanishwood)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Sugar in period/SCA

Date: 23 Oct 1998 19:45:57 GMT


Below is an article that was written by one of the members in our group

regarding sugar, hope it helps.  you can see this and more online at



Ethelwulf Kildare / Shire of Vanished Wood



The Sweetest of Smiles

Fredyis Hakkonsdotter (I think), March 1992

The sixteenth century, a time of expanding worldliness and exploration,

brought an ever increasing variety of exotic foods to the tables of

aristocratic diners. "Love apples" (tomatoes) and turkeys came from

Mexico, kidney beans from Peru, potatoes from Chile. None of these new

delicacies grew in popularity as quickly as did sugar.


While England had long been importing some amounts of sugar from Morocco

and the Barbary coast, new sources in the New World were being

established. Sugar from the Spanish and Portuguese plantations in the

West Indies was finding its way into the English market Lowering the

cost even further was the opening of a sugar refinery in London in the

1540s, enabling the English to import the cheaper, closer-to-raw

material rather than the costly finished product. White, crystalline

sugar was turned out of this refinery in the form of cones, some

weighing up to fourteen pounds.


Historians have calculated that annual English consumption of refined

sugar was no more than a pound a head at this time, but one must take

into consideration that not every head in England could afford this

luxury! The Overwhelming majority of sugar sold was being eaten by a

small aristocracy, as a favorite new flavor enhancing seasoning for

meat, fish and vegetable dishes as well as the more obvious sweetmeats,

subtitles, crystallized fruits, preserves and syrups. Before long, the

rich and famous were recognizable by their advanced cases of tooth decay

even Queen Elizabeth's teeth were black, as observed by Paul Hentzer, a

defect the English seem subject to, from their too great use of sugar."

Naturally, they noticed this occurring, and came up with a few remedies

and treatments. In Shakespeare's The Winters Tale, the character Clown

recognizes "A great man ... by the picking on's teeth," referring to the

use of elaborate toothpicks of precious metals, often worn in the hat

for decoration.


The beginnings of preventive dentistry are apparent in the practice of

rubbing ashes of rosemary leaves or powdered alabaster over the teeth

with the finger, which seemed to prevent tooth decay, and early cosmetic

dentistry sought to restore damaged teeth by engaging a barber to use

metal instruments to scrape the teeth, then apply aqua fortis (nitric

acid) to bleach them to whiteness. As Sir Hugh Platt warned, this

treatment could be disastrous, for after a few applications, a lady

maybe forced to borrow a ranke of teeth to eate her dinner, unless her

gums doe help her the better."


Dare we suppose that Shakespeare, as the century wore on, turned from

writing comedies to tragedies because he could no longer bear to see his

audiences smile?




-Brears, Peter. Food and Cooking in 16th Century Britain. History and

Recipes. 1985. Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England.


Shire of Vanished Wood, the best darn website in the SCA

See us at http://users.aol.com/vanishwood/welcome.htm



From: EAM <SPly at nospam.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Sugar in period/SCA

Date: 2 Nov 1998 15:22:49 GMT

Organization: Serendib Polymathics


Rmorrisson, rmorrisson at aol.com writes:

>I have bought cone sugar in the past, from a Mexican grocery in Pittsburgh's

>Strip District (a neighborhood full of wholesale markets -- if you get up early

>enough in the morning, and are so inclined, you can purchase an entire railroad

>car full of produce as it's being unloaded!).

>I had a great deal of difficulty trying to break/grate the dang thing in order

>to get enough sugar for a recipe I was redacting.


If you're talking about piloncillo - the brown, hard Mexican sugar cones

- the only hope is to smash or dissolve the stuff.  A hammer and a muslin

bag on the back steps, if you have to have dry sugar; the liquid in the

receipt, otherwise.  Scraping or grating will not work, as you have

found.  Some piloncillo is harder than others, too; I've had some that

were somewhat granular and you could actually break pieces off with your

teeth to eat as candy, and others that were so uniformly solid that even

the hammer was questionable... :-)


White sugar cones scrape fairly nicely, but you have to get them from

'reproduction' sources.  Colonial Williamsburg used to have them, and

I've heard here that Jos. Townsend (I think that's right; rendezvous

outfitter, anyway) carries them.  The sugar in them is a little harder

than - but otherwise similar to - the hollow sugar eggs you used to see

at Easter with the scenes inside, and will scrape and smash much more

easily than the Mexican ones.  HTH.


--  Elizabeth



Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 10:31:59 -0500

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: LIST SCA arts <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Sugar refs


C Anne Wilson (again !) has a good general chapter in Food & Drink in



The household accounts for Eleanor of Leicester (Simon de Montforts wife),

mention both ordinal (presumably loaf) and powdered white. it was 1s a lbs

in April but up to 2s by the end of July 1265 over 7months 55lbs are

brought compared with 53lbs pepper. Some 40 years after 1226 it seems it

could be easier to come by, but still quite small quantities remember just

how powerful Simon de Montfort was, This quantity is unlikely to be

equalled in the average (even average noble) household.





Date: Mon, 21 Dec 1998 15:52:34 +1100

From: The Cheshire Cat <cheshire at southcom.com.au>

Subject: SC - Sugars for medicinal use


>Such a concoction could have concievably been used for medicines by an

>apothocary though. Does anyone have any evidence that flavored sugar syrups

>were used in this manner?



I have some evidence that apothocaries sold several forms of sugar

medicines, particularly little twisted sugar sticks called 'pendia' and

rose and violet scented sugars which were regarded as cures for coughs and



This evidence comes to me in the form of a neat book I found in the

Library called

        A Leechbook or Collection of Medieval Recipes of the Fifteenth

Century.  Transcribed and edited by Waran R Dawson FRCE, FRSL, FSA Scotland

(Whatever they all mean), Macmillan and Co. Ltd 1934.  Sorry, I don't have

the ISBN on hand at the moment.


          I have not yet found any evidence of sugar syrups, however I

would certainly not rule the possibility out.

- -Sianan



Date: Fri, 8 Jan 1999 02:58:24 -0500

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: "INTERNET:sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Millenium Menu Suggestions


One basic rule for that time would be keep the sugar right down, or avoid

if possible, many people seem to use 15th C based recipes, when sugar

became more availible, for earlier recipes.


To put it in context Eleanor De Montfort (Simons missus) in an eight month

period in 1265 bought almost the same amount of sugar as she did pepper

(not personally you understand her household). This was a very rich lady,

with good contacts A few years prior (30 ish from memory) to that it is

recorded that even the King of England struggles to obtain just 2 pounds of

sugar !


So in 1000 cut the sugar.





Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 02:43:58 -0500

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Russian Black Bread


At 1:53 AM -0400 9/4/99, LrdRas at aol.com wrote:

>roecourt at mindspring.com writes:

><<  I think the Molasses may be period, >>

>Nope. OOP.


C. Anne Wilson discusses the relevant history in her book on food in

England. Molasses is a waste product from the production of sugar. When

sugar was an expensive item imported from abroad, molasses were essentially

nonexistent in England. As the West Indian sugar plantations went into

production, and sugar refining started in England, molasses became

increasingly available, first as an expensive ingredient for medical

purposes and then, as quantity increased, as a cheap ingredient for

cooking. She isn't precise about when the transition occurs, but it seems

to be near or shortly after the end of our period.


Presumably, molasses would have been available much earlier in the places

that sugar was coming from earlier. But my guess is that they would not

have been available in Russia until after our period.






Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 17:26:08 EDT

From: DianaFiona at aol.com

Subject: SC - Fwd: HERB - Culinary use of spices...


I thought this might be of interest in the discussion of the color of

sugar in period....... BTW, the lady in question was asking, if memory

serves, for help with culinary uses of all the various spices (In general

terms), for a class she's teaching. She claimed to be much more of an

apothecary than a cook! :-) So if anyone wishes to address that vast topic,

I'll be happy to forward your remarks to the Herb list for her........


                    Ldy Diana



Date: Thu, 07 Oct 1999 12:23:38 -0700

From: Nordmarc <nordmarc at ix.netcom.com>

To: herbalist at Ansteorra.ORG

Subject: Re: HERB - Culinary use of spices...


I haven't delved too far into the realm of "period" cuisine, but this might

help, it's pretty general.

Originally from the Book of Trades (Livres benoits, Gesprachbuchlein.).  I found

it in:-

"The Story of Medicine in the Middle Ages" by David. Riesman Md ScD,   New York.

Paul B. Heober, Inc., 1936. pg.315.


For that I am not

spycier ne apotecarie,

I can not name

alle menares of spyces,

but I shall name a partie:

gynger, galingale,

cubibes, comyne,

sugre white and broun,

flour of cammelle,

anyse, graynes of paradys;

of thise thinges be made confection

and goog poudres,

whereof is made

good sauces

and electuaries for medicines.


I hope this helps, and good luck with the class. Isrith.



Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999 12:36:43 -0500 (CDT)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com

Subject: SC - Period Sugar Refining, Etc.


Greetings!  There are descriptions of period sugar refining techiques, locations of refineries, types of sugar (more than 6 were sold), etc., in several "History of Sugar" books.  Ask at your local library.  One I recall that was particularly detailed was Strong's book.  I read several in preparation for an article entitled "On Powdered Sugar" which was printed in TI quite a few years ago.  I may have a copy on file in my computer,

although I didn't include a lot of what I had gleaned from the history books.  Sugar _was_ quite white.  It depended on how long/how many times the sugar went through the refining process.  The longer/more times it was refined, the whiter it got, as well as being more expensive.  Early on (up to 1100?? 1200??) the whitest was reserved for the Sultan of Egypt, according to Strong.


I believe it was Thomas who asked about when sugar became used more as an ingredient than as a topping.  That partially depends on what country you are asking about.  Since the early refineries, outside of the Middle East, were in Italy, the Italians first began using sugar on a wider basis than anyone else.  Around Tudor/Elizabethan times (memory fails me), a refinery opened in Holland.  The history books are detailed and not bad reading, if you really want the facts.


I, too, have ground sugar finely in a mortar.  And some recipes say to sift (searce) the sugar through various cloths - lawn, silk, etc.  Presumably the finest siftings would go through and one would re-grind the larger crystals until it all passed through.


Can anyone tell me if my review of _A Feast for the Eyes_ by Gillian Riley ever made it on the List?  I posted it two or three days ago, but since I get the digest version I sometimes miss seeing things. Someone asked if the book were worth purchasing which is why I did the review. I can re-post it if it never arrived.


Alys Katharine



Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 13:22:45 -0500

From: Jeff Gedney <JGedney at dictaphone.com>

Subject: Re: SC - French toast?


> I don't like "maple" syrup so, but it really doesn't go with that

> anyway...if I do, I make my own with maple sugar and reduce it a

> much lighter conisiency than  what comes out of the brown woman's head...


Judging maple syrup on the basis of Log Cabin or Mrs Butterworths

or some other "brand" is like judging a calligraphy  A&S entry based on

the applicant's performance in a mundane rock band.


Maple Syrup is marginally period, BTW, the English brought some back

from Florida (reference the adventures of Sir John Hawkins) in the 1560's

(along with tobacco, which the French were already familiar with from

explorations in Florida)





Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 11:37:09 -0500

From: Jeff Gedney <JGedney at dictaphone.com>

Subject: SC - maple syrup


> Florida????  I doubt very much if Hawkins found Sugar

> Maples in Florida. They are a native of Eastern North

> America.  The Sugar Maple tree needs a long freeze in

> order to produce the proper sap.  I know of no place

> in Florida where the climate is cold enough to produce

> maple sap. Which is why Vermont, Wisconsin and Quebec

> are the leading producers of Maple Syrup.


Not entirely correct on several counts


1 ) the Sugar maple is most definitely native to Florida.

Source :

the Florida Native Plants Directory of the Association of

Florida Native Nurseries

     ( http://members.aol.com/afnn/aplants.htm )


has the following entry:

  Acer saccharum var. floridanum - Florida sugar maple


2) maple sugar can be obtained from any variety of maple, the Sugar

maple just has the highest concentration of Sugar in the sap


3) The climate you cite will create the highest concentration of sugar,

but a warmer climate WILL produce sugar. The sap produced in the

early spring when the buds are being set will be substantially more

diluted in a warmer climate, by a factor of perhaps 3 to 1 over the sap

produced under ideal circumstances, but the sap WILL will produce



It is just that mapling is not *commercially viable* when you have to

produce any quantity of syrup with a "sap to syrup" ratio of 150 to 1!

As any maple producer, can tell you, the ratio of 40 to 1, which is

produced under ideal conditions by the Sugar maple, is hard enough

to keep in business with!

But a tribe of Native Americans, making sugar to put by for the

winter, are not restricted by the same business considerations.


> As for maple syrup being period, it is not.  It is

> definitely post period.  The Native Americans did tap

> the trees during period, but they didn't appear to

> have shared the secret until the mid 17th century.


It was explained in a very general way to John Sparke, who was the

Chronicaller for the voyages of John Hawkins, and specifically his efforts to

locate and relieve the a settlement of French Heugenots who were in Florida.

(They had to leave altogether because of the Spanish)

I will try to find my references on this. This was also the trip that brought

tobacco and Hammocks to the attention of the English Navie.





Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 22:00:45 EST

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - maple syrup


JGedney at dictaphone.com writes:

<< It was explained in a very general way to John Sparke, who was the

Chronicaller for the voyages of John Hawkins, and specifically his efforts to

locate and relieve the a settlement of French Heugenots who were in Florida.

(They had to leave altogether because of the Spanish)

I will try to find my references on this. This was also the trip that

brought tobacco and Hammocks to the attention of the English Navie.


Brandu >>


There is a possibility that he could have found maple sugar in Florida. The

Seminole borders extended far enough north for they and the Iroquois tribes

to have traded.





Date: Sat, 20 Nov 1999 08:48:04 EST

From: WOLFMOMSCA at aol.com

Subject: Re: "In common use. . .?" Was: SC - French toast?


rushmaj at basf-corp.com writes:

<< >Maple Syrup is marginally period, BTW, the English brought some back

>from Florida (reference the adventures of Sir John Hawkins) in the 1560's

>(along with tobacco, which the French were already familiar with from

>explorations in Florida) >>


I know I'm probably picking nits here, but this sentence doesn't say the

French brought back maple syrup from Florida.  It says the English brought

back maple syrup and tobacco, the tobacco being already known by the French

from their explorations in Florida.


However, given the nomadic nature of the native folk encountered by our

European forebears, the Florida natives may very well have been acquainted

with maple syrup, having received it in trade from more northern tribes.  But

it's unlikely the French would know anything about it from their dealings

with the Timucuan.  No additives, no preservatives, and maple syrup, done the

old-fashioned way, doesn't keep in the kind of heat and humidity endemic to

mid-Florida.  I know.  I live here, and my sister sends real maple syrup

every Christmas in the care package from New Hampshire.  It lasts a few

months with refrigeration once the seal is cracked. Unrefrigerated, it's got

a one month life span before mold makes it taste positively awful.  So my

stash gets used up in the first couple of months between pancakes, French

toast, and maple breads and cookies.  That way, it doesn't go to waste.  But

it's very much a seasonal thing.  If the Timucuan had experienced maple syrup

via trade, it would have been a seasonal thing as well.  Next time I run

across the folks from the Men of Menendez, I'll ask them.  One of their

branches does Timucuan reenactment, so they may have some info on trade

networks and the like.





Date: Sat, 20 Nov 1999 13:07:12 -0500

From: Jeff Gedney <JGedney at dictaphone.com>

Subject: Re: SC - maple syrup


Ras opined...

> There is a possibility that he could have found maple sugar in Florida. The

> Seminole borders extewnded far enough north for they and the Iroquois tribes

> to have traded.


I am not so sure about your assertion.

Maple was, according to contemporary sources, a very common

sweetening agent (reference discussions of Roanoke local native tribes).

All trading done by Natives was done on foot, or by dog, until the general

introduction of the horse, which did not reach the Eastern native cultures

until well into Colonial times.


Consequently Items traded were things with high value and high portability,

such as Arrowheads, knives, Shells, pigments, pelts, beads, and craftwork.

A family of four could use two to three pounds a year of Sugar in the

manufacture of pemmican alone. The quantities that would have to have

been traded would overwhelm the rather casual system of Foot-bourne



Besides why trade for something that you can get out of the nearby woods?

Some kind of maple, capable of producing sugar, was present in every

deciduous forest, from Nova Scotia to Miami. Why waste good pelts on

soemthing so common and readily available?

Sorry, Ras, I just cant see maple sugar as a trade commodity under those



I am still trying to find my references... I'll get back to you when I have them!





Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2000 17:54:33 -0500 (EST)

From: cclark at vicon.net

Subject: RE: SC - Re: Wafers


"Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US> wrote:

> ... Sugar is mildly hygroscopic and the baking process

>removes excess moisture leaving it more so. ...


BTW, some sugars are more hygroscopic than others. Both dextrose/glucose and

levulose/fructose are among the more hygroscopic sugars, while sucrose (as

in cane and beet sugars) is less so. This is why honey (with mostly dextrose

and levulose) needs higher temperatures to make candy than ordinary sugar

syrup does. This is also one reason why corn syrup is often added to

commercial cookies, because it keeps them moister.


Alex Clark/Henry of Maldon



Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2000 09:11:53 -0500

From: "Jeff Gedney" <JGedney at dictaphone.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Cuskeynoles




BTW, Stefan, re: the discussion we had earlier on Maple Syrup... I have not

been able to find the reference that will back up my assertions.  

Please note this in the Floriligium file where you have posted my earlier

messages. I do not want my assertions to be used as a reference

until I can back it up.

I do know that the Elizabethan English were aware of a Russian drink

made from the sap of the Birch tree, well in period. This was noted in

the letters of the Muscovy Company, and is excerpted in Hakluyts "Voyages"

which was published in the late 1500's.

Perhaps I am confusing the two references. I am no longer sure. I will

continue to try to find the reference I was thinking of.





Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2000 13:01:56 -0600

From: Magdalena <magdlena at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Treacle Pie


> Yeah. it also generally refers to whatever is left after any kind

> of sugar production, which was something I forgot.  Sugar cane just

> produces the best quality of treacle, but you get it from beets and other

> sources as well.  In the URL I posted earlier today it listed a site which

> referenced a Saint performing a miracle at a Treacle Well, or a well that

> seemingly had nasty tasting but supposedly curative waters...so I'm disposed

> to believing that in period that Treacle would refer to a nasty tasting

> rememdy and then got applied to the sugar by-product as although sweet, I

> wouldn't just want to eat it

> alone because it's fairly disgusting that way as you know.


Markham refers to Treacle Water as being good for mouth cankers, but no recipe

is listed.


- -Magdalena



Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2000 18:57:23 -0500 (EST)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com

Subject: SC - Re: Saxon Violets


Here's a period recipe for violet sugar, not candied violets.


ROSE SUGAR, in poem Naturen Bloeme (Flower of Nature) by Dutch poet Jacob van

Maerlant, written between 1265 and 1270.  From "Rose Sugar and Other Sweets" by

Joop Witteveen, Petits Propos Culinaires, Number 20, 1985, pp 22-28.


1.  "Rose sugar (suker rosaet) is made in the following way: rose petals that have been rubbed fine with sugar are put in a glass jar and left in the sun for 30 days; the contents must be stirred daily; the jar must be well sealed and it will remain good for three years."


Witteveen says that "One could make this sugar not only from roses but also from violets (Viola tricolor L. and Viola odorata L.) and later also from borage and rosemary."


Alys Katharine



Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2000 12:25:19 EST

From: allilyn at juno.com

Subject: SC - treackle


I don't know about treacle, specifically, but the Portugese were

processing--making their slaves process--cane sugar in the 15th C.  A PBS

series on 'Black Africa' did some comment on this. Since molasses, or

treacle, is a by-product of the sugar making process, then it would have

existed.  Was it exported?  Did anybody make it into pie?  


Hess, in 'Martha Washington's Cookbook', says:

"Treacle, a sovereign remedy, appeared in Old English unchanged from Old

French triacle, which inb turn came from Late Latin triaca, antidote for

a venomous bite (OED), "  and says lots more.

It was used as a broad-spectrum cure-all.  There might be a number of

ingredients, 30 or more.  The treacle of Andromachus is attributed to

Nero's physician, but may have been Greek, going back into antiquity.

London treacle was a relative newcomer, associated with molasses.

Probably 17th C.  In the 17th C., treacle  came to be used in baked

gingerbread; she gives a recipe for pepper cakes using treacle.

Lady Fettiplace, at the end of the 16th C, is still considering Venice

triacle to be a medicine.

Markham's glossary mentions neither treacle or molasses.


Allison,     allilyn at juno.com



Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000 21:14:41 -0800 (PST)

From: Terri Spencer <taracook at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Treacle Pie


Treacle was indeed originally a medicinal, specifically germander, more

generally a poison remedy:


trea?cle noun.

1. a medicinal compound formerly in wide use as a remedy against


2. (chiefly British) a: MOLASSES b: a blend of molasses, invert sugar,

and corn syrup used as syrup at the table -- called also golden syrup

3. something (as a tone of voice) heavily sweet and cloying.

Middle English triacle, from Middle French, from Latin theriaca, from

Greek thEriakE antidote against a poisonous bite, from feminine of

thEriakos of a wild animal, from thErion wild animal, diminutive of

thEr wild animal Date: 14th century


Period definitions (from the Early Modern English Dictionaries Database

at http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/english/emed/emedd.html):


Florio 1598: the hearb Germander, or English treacle.

Florio 1598: Theriaca, treacle, a remedie against poi?son. Also of a

viper or other cruell beast.


Thomas 1587: A phisician or treacle seller, that gads about the

countrie. [Medicus di[ae]teticus, digitus, e? quarius, vid. suis



Cotgrave 1611: Methridate; a strong Treacle, or Preser?uatiue deuised

at first by the Pontian King, Mithridates.



And even a recipe for Ras:


Trochisci de Vipera ad Theriacum Or Troches of Vipers, for Treacle


Take of the flesh of Vipers, the skin, entrails, head, fat, and tail

being taken away, boiled in water with Dill, and a little salt, eight

ounces, white bread twice baked, grated and sifted, two ounces,

make it into troches, your hands being anointed with Opobalsamum, or

Oil of Nutmegs by expression, dry them upon a sieve turned the bottom

upwards in an open place, often turning them till they are well

dried, then put them in a glass or stone pot glazed, stopped close,

they will keep a year, yet is it far better to make Treacle, not long

after you have made them.


They expel poison, and are excellently good, by a certain sympathetical

virtue, for such as are bitten by an adder.


>From Culpeper: The Complete Herbal


I don't know how it came to mean molasses, but I'd guess the sugar =

medicine (or sugar makes medicine taste better) connection is





david friedman wrote:

That's complicated. C. Anne Wilson, in _Food and Drink in Britain_,

discusses the relevant history, but is a bit vague about exact dates. I

think "treacle" was originally a medicinal, possibly based on sugar

refining residue, and the term got transferred (in England, not

America) to molasses when they became available as a cheap sweetener,

somewhere near or just after the end of our period.



and "Liam Fisher" wrote:

In the URL I posted earlier today it listed a site which referenced a

Saint performing a miracle at a Treacle Well, or a well that seemingly

had nasty tasting but supposedly curative waters...so I'm disposed to

believing that in period that Treacle would refer to a nasty tasting

rememdy and then got applied to the sugar by-product as although sweet,

I wouldn't just want to eat it alone because it's fairly disgusting

that way as you know.


Cadoc MacDairi



Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 00:53:10 +1000

From: "Lee-Gwen Booth" <piglet006 at globalfreeway.com.au>

Subject: Re: SC - molasses (longish)


Unto the Gathered Cooks does Gwynydd of Culloden send the following:


As I said in an earlier post, I have received a huge amount of information

from Bundaberg sugar, so I feel peculularily well equipped to answer this



(BTW, the short answer is:  golden syrup is like treacle but lighter in

colour and flavour and treacle bears little resemblance to molasses - I am

not even sure that the Americans have golden syrup)


"Golden Syrup - A concentrated liquid micture of sucrose, glucose and

fructose with a distinctive flavour and golden colour.  Its characteristic

golden colour comes from traces of molasses.


"It is manufactured from syrups remaining after white sugar is removed.

Part of the sucrose (cane sugar) is hydrolysed to convert it to glucose and

fructose. The hydrolysed syrups then undergo a decolourisation process to

get the familiar golden colour.  The particular concentration of glucose,

fructose and sucrose in the final mixture prevents crystalisation from

occuring and the mixture remains a viscous syrup.


"Treacle - A similar product to golden syrup, but with a distinctively

strong flavour and dark black colour.


"Treacle is formulated in much the same manner as golden syrup except that

the thick syrup mixture is not decolourised.


"Molasses - The black syrup remaining after the sugar syrup has been boiled

and passed through the centrifugal for the last time in the mill or

refinery.  It is strong, black, and somewhat bitter in taste."



Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2000 10:04:54 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - molasses


> barring treacle, which I understand I should look for under

> the name of molasses (is that right?).  So what is golden

> syrup?  I wanted to make Anzac biscuits (Anzac Day coming up and all), and

> have no idea what the Americans call golden syrup.  Any ideas?


> Cairistiona


Strangely enough, here in Oklahoma, golden syrup is golden syrup.  It's an



The golden syrup is a thin syrup with a light gold color.  It's cane sugar

based.  In the US we tend to use pancake syrup (usually a caramel colored

multi-sugar syrup often with maple flavoring.  Real maple syrup is

expensive.) or Karo syrup, which is a brand name for corn (maize) syrup

primarily used in cooking which comes in caramel and clear).


If you can't find golden syrup, corn syrup is an adequate substitute.


Treacle = molasses, but in the US molasses can be made from cane sugar or






Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2000 10:13:35 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - molasses (longish)


> Unto the Gathered Cooks does Gwynydd of Culloden send the following:


> "Treacle - A similar product to golden syrup, but with a distinctively

> strong flavour and dark black colour.


> "Treacle is formulated in much the same manner as golden

> syrup except that the thick syrup mixture is not decolourised.


These would be what most in the US know as molasses. We have both light and

dark molasses made most commonly from sweet sorghum, but cane molasses is


> "Molasses - The black syrup remaining after the sugar syrup

> has been boiled

> and passed through the centrifugal for the last time in the mill or

> refinery.  It is strong, black, and somewhat bitter in taste."


What you call molasses is termed "blackstrap" or "blackstrap molasses" in

the US.  While it can be purchased for cooking, most blackstrap goes into

industrial alcohol and cattle feed.





Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2000 13:36:10 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Sugar - the definitive word (?)


On a more historical note, the process to make beet sugar was introduced in

1793 by Franz Carl Achard.  The process was improved over the next century

and the first commercial processing plant opened in Silesia in 1802.  It

failed, but the idea of domestic sugar production in Europe was spurred by

the deprivations of the Napoleonic Wars.  By mid-century, beet sugar was

being produced commercial across Europe and was being introduced into the

US.  The commercially successful sugar beets are all hybrids developed in

the 19th Century from the Silesian sugar beets.





Date: Sat, 09 Sep 2000 22:07:36 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - PAYNE RAGOUN


LrdRas at aol.com wrote:

> ddfr at best.com writes:

> << Sugar of Cypress, I believe >>


> OK. I have seen this mentioned 3 times now. What is sugar of Cypress and why

> would it work better than sugar syrup in this recipe? Since I have translated

> the term as sugar syrup and it works well in this recipe, what leads you to

> believe that cipre is simply not a scribal error for the word 'sirop'?


Hmm. (Bear in mind I'm about to express opinion.) Because this

explanation allows us to follow the recipe as read, without assuming a

scribal error in transposing consonants. Another example of Occam's Razor.


~generic noun, for example "sucre"~ de cypre is still used to describe

things from Cyprus in modern French.


"Sugur cypre" appears in several recipes, always spelled that way, or in

a similar manner more suggestive of the Isle of Cyprus than of syrup.

IIRC, Cyprus was a major center for the sugar trade in medieval Europe,

becoming in the later Middle Ages (15th century and on) a center for

sugarcane farming and processing as well. This is one of the major

reasons for the increase in sugar use, and drop in prices, found in the

second half of the Middle Ages. You'll find references to sugar from

Cyprus in a lot of 14th-15th century English recipes, with perhaps an

implication that while it isn't as fine as some of the more highly

processed sugars from India or the MidEast, it's plenty fine enough for

reprocessing in the form of candy.


It's also my impression (and I could be wrong about this) that the word

"syrup" and cognates thereof, aren't generally applied to sugar

solutions at the time this recipe appears, rather a syrup tends to be a

thin sauce or gravy.  





From: "a5foil" <a5foil at ix.netcom.com>

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Molasses and Columbus

Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 01:24:08 -0400


I don't know about molasses on ships, but some histories of sugar mention

that the Muslim sugar manufacturers on Sicily, and later on Cyprus, offered

several grades of sugar, from a well-drained cone sugar to a heavy syrup. I

haven't ever focused on that myself, but I doubt the strong body and depth

of flavor that molasses lends went unnoticed.


Could this have been a golden syrup, rather than what we think of as

molasses, today? Truly a honey of sugar?


Thomas Longshanks



Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 15:42:46 -0600

From: Mem Morman <mem.morman at oracle.com>

Organization: Oracle Corporation

To: "SCA-Cooks at Ansteorra.ORG" <SCA-Cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] molasses


Thomas and Bear have been discussing molasses.


At the grand palace of the knights of st. john on the island of rhodes

there is an excellent archaeological exhibit on the production of sugar

on that island in the middle ages.  They display some of the machinery

for crushing and boiling and lots of the little cone shaped molds used

for the different sizes of sugar loaves. Good commentary along with the

display, and, I believe but am not sure since it's been a couple of

years, several quotations from primary sources.





Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 23:32:36 -0400

From: johnna holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re:  molasses and golden syrup


I find the discussion on molasses to be rather interesting, but I am

left wondering if this shouldn't be a discussion about "treacle" and not



In an article on "The Changing Concept of Sugar" by Joan P. Alcock,

there  are descriptions of molasses and golden syrup. She notes that

molasses is more of a by-product and is extracted in several grades. The

darkest is blackstrap which is excellent for making treacle toffee. In

England, she notes that the term "molasses" was never popular. "Treacle"

was instead used for the product we call "molasses". This was and

remains a source of some confusion as pale treacle is also used to

denote Tate and Lyle's "Golden Syrup" which is produced and decolorised

from molasses. Molasses cannot be derived from beet sugar, she says.

That product is used apparently only for cattle feed.  (Appears in Look

& Feel, 1993 Oxford Symposium,  pub. 1994).


OED states that regarding molasses "The word is now rare in British use,

but in the U.S. is commonly used promiscuously with treacle. In

technical language, molasses is applied to the drainings of raw sugar

and treacle to the syrup from sugar in the process of refining." At

least in the U.K., OED traces treacle as being used originally in

apothecary terms. The newer MED traces it as "an antidote to poison."

Molasses doesn't appear in the MED.


The problem with talking about "golden syrup" is that it is a specific

product that appeared in the 19th century. Laura Mason dates it to the

1880's in her book Sugar-Plums and Sherbet. And while, Alan Davidson

may think that corn syrup and maple syrup are comparable products, they

aren't at all the same things when it comes to taste. And it really is a

matter of taste. I couldn't abide the taste of golden syrup when I was

in the UK for our year in the 1980's, but I will readily use both maple

and corn syrups. I am sure that English brought up on "golden syrup"

would rather have it than corn syrup or maple.


But anyway should the question be... did they use treacle then?


Johnnae llyn Lewis

Johnna Holloway



Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2002 10:21:28 -0600 (CST)

From: "Pixel, Goddess and Queen" <pixel at hundred-acre-wood.com>

To: SCA-Cooks maillist <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] sugar


On Sat, 26 Jan 2002, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> Madhavi said:

> > There are completely period, unrefined sugars out there, but you'll have to

> > test any recipes you make with them. I have used gur before, it is unrefined

> > sugar cane sugar, it comes in blocks that you have to grate. It is

> > completely period, I can send documentation if you need it. You can get it

> > from Latin markets under the name "piloncillos" or in Indian and some ME

> > markets under the name "gur" or "black sugar".


> I can get small piloncillos here in the grocery. I've got one that

> but haven't used any of it yet. I figured I would just use a knife

> or a fruit peeler to scrape off slivers to use. Do we know what

> they would have used in period to get sugar from the cones? Would it

> simply have been a knife or was there a special tool for this?

> I would appreciate seeing any additional documentation on sugar in

> period or modern equivalents.


I don't know what they did in period, but in colonial times (U.S) they had

these nifty things called sugar nippers with which they removed bits of

sugar off the sugar cones. The sutlers Jas. Townsend & Sons have one for

sale, pictured on their website here:




Margaret, former colonial history nut



Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 09:40:11 -0500

From: johnna holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

To: "sca-cooks at ansteorra.org" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Sugar Article


I came across an interesting reference and

this morning had the time to hunt it down.

Rose Levy Beranbaum did a great award winning

article on the subject of SUGAR which was

published in Food Arts in 2000.

Titled: Sugar 101 Wherein Rose Levy Beranbaum,

the high priestess of pastry, answers all your

questions and learns that the wide, wide world

of sugar is, indeed, a very, very sweet place

to live.


And it's online...



It's long, it's detailed, and it has a lot

of information packed in it.


Johnnae llyn Lewis   Johnna Holloway



Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2004 14:21:32 -0800

From: "Lorenz Wieland" <lorenz_wieland at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Beets and backfiles was Beets

To: "Cooks within the CA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


david friedman wrote:

> Again, I don't think you can tell. Does anyone know if sugar beet

> root is edible raw?


It's edible raw, but not very appealing in either taste or texture.





Date: Fri, 9 Apr 2004 09:05:23 -0700 (PDT)

From: Huette von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar Cane

To: bachv at paganet.de, Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


From my sources, sugar cane is native to New

Guinea and then spread to Asia.  The earliest

known mention of sugar cane comes from a love

poem in the Indian sacred work, the Atharva-veda,

[written some time between 1500 and 1000 BC]

which used sugar cane as a symbol of sweetness

and attractiveness.  In 327BC, Alexander the

Great sent sugar cane home from India. In 510BC,

in Persia, the first mention of solid sugar

describes it as coming from the Indus Valley.

This probably was jaggery.  In the 7th century

AD, the Persians improved the refining process of

sugar, with the introduction of lime [the

mineral], producing an almost white block sugar,

which quickly was exported to Western Europe.





Date: Sat, 10 Apr 2004 10:37:09 -0400

From: "Daniel  Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar Cane

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Elewyiss asked:

> Is sugar cane period?


Regarding Sugar both the "Tacuinum Sanitatis" and "Tacuinum Sanitatis in

Medicina" illustrate sugar as refined in the first and as both refined

and growing cane in the first and the second.


Spenser, J. (translator) 1983, The Four Seasons of the  House of Cerruti,

(Tacuinum Sanitatis in Medicina), Facts on File Publications NY, NY


Luisa Cogliati Arano, 1976, The Medieval Health Handbook ("Tacuinum

Sanitatis") George Braziller Inc. NY, NY





Date: Mon, 03 May 2004 20:17:54 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] pre-1601 sugar processing

To: jenne at fiedlerfamily.net, Cooks within the SCA

        <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise wrote:

> Anyone have any good references on the process of processing sugar in  

> the pre-1601 period?


Laura Mason's book goes into it.

Sugar Plums and Sherbet. The Prehistory

of Sweets. There are a number of others, but most

are OP now. Sweetness and Power by Mintz is still around though.


Johnnae llyn Lewis



Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 19:38:43 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] pre-1601 sugar processing

To: <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>, "Cooks within the SCA"

        <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> Anyone have any good references on the process of processing sugar in  

> the pre-1601 period?

> -- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net


Take a look at Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking."  There is a well

written section on sugar and sugar refining.  There is also about a  

page of references in the bibliography.





Date: Mon, 03 May 2004 21:06:10 -0600

From: Mary Morman <mem at rialto.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] sugar procssing

To: SCA-Cooks <SCA-Cooks at ansteorra.org>


There's a great exhibit in the palace of the grand master of the knights

of St. John on Rhodes in Greece. apparently one of the things the

knights did was foster/control/profit by the sugar trade.





Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 21:33:24 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] pre-1601 sugar processing

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> Sugar processing was

> usually done on the spot as the cane deteriorates rapidly after

> harvesting.

> Giano


Primary processing is done on the spot to produce molasses heavy sugar.

Secondary processing can be done on the spot or in remote locations. There

was a sugar refinery in Amsterdam in the late 17th Century (IIRC, but it

might be the early to mid 18th Century).





Date: Thu, 06 May 2004 12:26:25 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re: Blown sugar was Multi-tasking

To: ooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Carper, Rachel wrote:

> Really? I love blown sugar. Is it period? Can you teach it? Where are

> you located?

> Elewyiss

> I had a glass-blower show me how to make blown-sugar fruits, spun

> sugar, etc.

> Adamantius


  I have been researching this for past few years and to date have

nothing that says so... makig it on the par with doing work in chocolate---

very cool and very neat but never done in that fashion prior to 1600.

On the other hand--- pulled sugar did turn up (although not served to

Henri III in Venice in the 1570's) and there was cast sugar which is a

poured sugar syrup for molds. Neither of those are that far off from blown ....


Johnnae llyn Lewis



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: "Matthew G. Saroff" <msaroff at fellspt.charm.net>

Subject: Components of Barbecue

Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2004 16:56:39 -0400


        This weekend, I was discussing food (an area where I have neither depth nor breadth on knowledge) during an event (Trial by Fire, in Brighthills, Atlantia.  It's a period/camp cooking competition with documentation.  Highly recommended) while waiting for the judges, and I brought up ingredients for creating a sauce for smoked meat (barbecue without tomatoes).


        I brought up Molasses, and Paprika, and I was told that the former is not period, and that they were unsure of the provenance of the latter.


        I've done a brief Google search, and came up with this: http://www.minaret.org/malaysia.htm


> The declining economies caused declining demand. The shift in sources of

> sugar for Italy can be seen in the tariff records. Early fifteenth

> century Venetian documents show a shift in the point of origin of

> molasses for Italy from Egypt to Palermo (Ibid., p. 113).


        The Ibid refers to Ashtor, E. 1981, "Levantine Sugar Industry in the Late Middle Ages: A Case of Technological Decline" in Udovitch 1981,


        This was published in "The Islamic Middle East, 700-1900", edited by Abraham L. Udovitch.


        This would seem to indicate that Molasses was around in period, though I would prefer a something better than a reference to an article.


        This is enough to make me think that Molasses is period, but in no shape or form adequate documentation.


        Udovitch and Ashtor both appear to be well respected (Udovich is tenured at Princeton), but I can't find the article on line.


        I've found some history in one of my long suffering* wife's cookbooks, so it's a tertiary source at best, that the Turks forced Hungarian farmers to grow Paprika around 1515.


        While I was musing on this, I started to muse on Ketchup, which derived it's name from a sauce (probably Hoisin) that was described as "yummy' (literally to smack one's lips), which eventually became the word Ketchup/Catsup.


        I realized that Hoisin sauce would make a ducky (pun not intended) alternative to tomato based sauces for smoking.


        Is anyone aware of the documentation regarding when Hoisin first entered Chinese cuisine?


        I'm thinking that Hoisin would make for a neat barbecue.


        Finally, what about the use of wood from fruit trees to flavor the smoke?


*Married to a Saroff=Long Suffering.


--Sfi Mordehai ben Yosef Yitzhak, Aka Matthew G. Saroff


This is not the Dream.  This is what I do on weekends to have some fun.


The Dream involves 4 sets of identical twins, 2 gallons of Cool Whip, 5 quarts of chocolate syrup, 2-1/4 pounds of strawberries, satin sheets, a magnum of champagne, a trapeze, and a python. Check http://www.pobox.com/~msaroff, including The Bad Hair Web Page

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

Navicula hydraulica plena anguilarum est.



Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2004 11:36:21 +0930

From: "Craig ones" <drakey at webone.com.au>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] jaggery?

To: "'Cooks within the SCA'" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


>> 1 cucumber, peeled, quartered and cut in quarter inch slices

>> 1 clove garlic, smashed

>> 1/4 c wine vinegar

>> 2 T water

>> 2 T. jaggery or sugar

>> Mix together and let marinate for an hour or more.

> Okay, but what is "jaggery"?


Jaggery is dark, unprocessed sugar derived from various palms or from sugar cane... It's usually derived from Palm Sugar and I suspect that this is what this recipe is looking for.


Usually the palm sugar is concentrated into heavy, moist, dark brown chunk although there are variations in moisture and color.  It quit often comes in hard, sticky lumps. If it does, be careful if you shave some off with a knife (don't ask me how I know this)...


There's not really a substitute but it's easy to find in Asian grocery stores....




Ps. 122 'doing a drakey' free days and counting...


Pps. For those pedants, Jaggery is derived from quite a few palm species including Caryota urens, Borassus flabellifer, Cocos nucifera, Phoenix

sylvestris, and Arenga saccharifera (1996, Solomon, Encyclopedia of

Asian Food)



Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2004 22:10:48 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] jaggery?

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> Okay, but what is "jaggery"?

> Stefan


Unrefined sugar made from palm sap.  It comes from the Portuguese "jagara" which derives from the Dravidian "carucarai."  As an (southern) Indian word entering Portuguese, it probably comes from the early 16th Century.





Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2004 11:28:46 -0400 (GMT-04:00)

From: Robin Carroll-Mann <rcmann4 at earthlink.net>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] jaggery?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


-----Original Message-----

From: Craig Jones <drakey at webone.com.au>


Jaggery is dark, unprocessed sugar derived from various palms or from sugar cane... It's usually derived from Palm Sugar and I suspect that this is what this recipe is looking for. [snip]






The Cook's Thesaurus suggests as substitutes dark brown sugar with  added molasses, or piloncillo (available in Hispanic grocery stores).



Lady Brighid ni Chiarain

Barony of Settmour Swamp, East Kingdom



Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2004 14:03:02 -0400

From: ranvaig at columbus.rr.com

Subject: RE: [Sca-ooks] jaggery?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> Usually the palm sugar is concentrated into heavy, moist, dark brown

>chunk although there are variations in moisture and color.  It quite

> often comes in hard, sticky lumps. If it does, be careful if you shave

> some off with a knife (don't ask me how I know this)...


This stuff wasn't moist at all... rock hard is more like it.  I had this box of jaggery for a year or more and never used it because it was just too hard to cut up.  A nice young man asked if he could help in the kitchen.  I handed him the jaggery.  After a few minutes trying to cut it with a knife, he asked if he could use a hammer and chisel instead.  He washed the chisel well, and now I have usable pieces of jaggery :)


I used it in our 10th c. Irish feast, in the pears and wine, as a guess of what imported sugar might be.





Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2004 19:22:13 -0700 (PDT)

From: R J <chaingangorg at yahoo.com>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Hard  jaggery

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


--- Craig Jones <drakey at webone.com.au> wrote:

> This stuff wasn't moist at all... rock hard is more like it.  I had

> this box of jaggery for a year or more and never used it because it

> was just too hard to cut up.


  I either put a slightly damp sponge ( new ) in a bag with my lump, or a slice of bread, or an appleslice. The small amount of humidity makes a huge difference.





Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 09:55:00 -0800

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Powdered Sugar,   was Granado's Bizcochos w/ Orange

        Flower Water

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


My Note in my Original Post:

>> NOTE: Granulated sugar can be turned into powdered sugar without

>> additives by pouring it into a running food processor - takes just a

>> few seconds.


One of my questions:

>> QUESTION 2 - the sugar, ground - should that be normal granulated

>> sugar or powdered sugar?


The answers of two esteemed listees:


  From Selene Colfox (Susan Fox-Davis):

> Granulated or maybe ultrafine/baking sugar.  Powdered sugar ONLY if you

> can get it with no added starch.


  From Brighid ni Chiarain (Robin Carroll-Mann)

> I usually take granulated sugar and run it through the blender.  I

> wouldn't use powdered sugar.


As I noted in my first post (copied above), if powdered sugar is appropriate, I know how to make my own...


I am reiterating this for the benefit of other folks, since the debate about powdered sugar has come up on this list with some frequency, and just as you both seemed to miss my note, others may have as well.


Commercially packaged powdered sugar generally has corn starch in it. I've never noticed that it affected the taste and behavior of the sugar much, but, then, I don't bake or use sugar often. However, whether or not to use it in Medieval and Renaissance cooking is a frequent question.


If you have a food processor, it only takes a few seconds to make your own powdered sugar without additives, and just as much as you need. I've poured granulated sugar into the food processor with the blades running and into the food processor with them stopped, and either way, it only took a few seconds for the granulated sugar to become powdered sugar.


I haven't tried doing this in a blender, so I don't know if that will work as well...





Date: Sat, 19 Mar 2005 16:44:48 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar beets

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Andreas Sigsmund Marggraf.  He first extracted sugar from beets in 1747

(when Boswell was 7 or 8 years old).


The method used was high proof alcohol extraction (brandy in the original experiments) which would probably limit any earlier extraction to some time after 1400.  The extraction process is more complicated than that of cane sugar and doesn't produce the yield of cane sugar.  Marggraf hoped that his  process could be used by farmers to produce sugar for their own use, but  that idea went nowhere, suggesting that the process may have been too complicated, cumbersome or costly to join the whiskey still in the shed out back.


While I've seen the claims for beet sugar been known before Marggraf, they are always made as a throw in without supporting evidence or citations to primary sources.  The references smack of citing opinion of authority as authoritative fact.





I've been reading Boswell's memoirs, and came across a mention of his meeting with a German chemist. The footnote identified the chemist as the first person to extract sugar from beets. The meeting is in the 1760's, so that suggests that beet sugar was unknown prior to the 18th century, which I thought interesting.


Beet sugar is generally associated with Napoleon's response to blockade by

Britain, but I had seen it suggested that it was known long before, just uncommon.






Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2005 13:24:31 -0500

From: "Denise Wolff" <scadian at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar beets

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


Try this link...



Andrea MacIntyre



Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 00:18:25 -0800

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar beets

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


Micheal <dmreid at hfx.eastlink.ca> wrote:

> Your answer though to the point was relatively short could I get an

> expansion please or a place to look.

>  Da


Info below derived from:

The Oxford Companion to Food

edited by Alan Davidson

paperback edition as The Penguin Companion to Food


page 919

In about 1590, French botanist Olivier de Serres managed to extract some sugar syrup from sugar beets. But no one seems to have pursued extracting beet sugar.


Then in 1747 the German chemist Andreas Marggraf Marggraf did it again. Again, interest was light.


Then, in 1800 [1801 according to a different source], one of Marggraf's students, Karl Franz Achard, supported by Frederick the Great of Prussia set up a small sugar beet refinery in Selesia [in northeastern Germany, which was Prussia then].


When the Napoleonic Wars cut off supplies of cane sugar, beet sugar production began in earnest.


Urtatim, formerly Anahita



Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 14:12:10 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar beets

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Check Pliny's Natural Histories for an early reference to sugar cane.

Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking provides more interesting information.





Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 14:41:25 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar beets

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> Info below derived from:

> The Oxford Companion to Food

> edited by Alan Davidson

> paperback edition as The Penguin Companion to Food

> page 919

> In about 1590, French botanist Olivier de Serres managed to extract some

> sugar syrup from sugar beets. But no one seems to have pursued extracting

> beet sugar.

> Then in 1747 the German chemist Andreas Marggraf Marggraf did it again.

> Again, interest was light.

> Then, in 1800 [1801 according to a different source], one of Marggraf's

> students, Karl Franz Achard, supported by Frederick the Great of Prussia

> set up a small sugar beet refinery in Selesia [in northeastern Germany,

> which was Prussia then].

> When the Napoleonic Wars cut off supplies of cane sugar, beet sugar

> production began in earnest.

> --

> Urtatim, formerly Anahita


This needs to be considered in the economic context.  In the 16th and 17th Centuries, sugar from the West Indies was relatively inexpensive and plentiful.  During the 18th Century, slave rebellions in the sugar plantations threatened to cut off supplies of sugar, so the idea of beet sugar became more practical.  Germany, which had few colonies, would have been a major beneficiary, but Achard's plant and one or two others established about the same time proved to be economically unviable.


The British blockade of France made cane sugar unavailable and beet sugar profitable.  Benjamin Delessert established a factory at Passay to provide France with sugar in 1810.  By 1813, France had 334 sugar plantations producing 35,000 tons of sugar per year.  In 1814, Napoleon abdicated and the blockade ended.  Cane sugar undercut the price for beet sugar and most of the beet sugar plants went under.


The process improved and by the mid-19th Century France had 60 beet sugar plants and the beet sugar industry was beginning in the Western US.  About 15 percent of the sugar being produced was beet sugar.





Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2005 20:12:50 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Re: Blown Sugar is Chinese Apparently

To: alysk at ix.netcom.com, Cooks within the SCA

        <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Elise Fleming wrote:

> I had a question today about this Chinese business... When was sugar cane

> developed and grown in China?  When did they have whatever passed for

> refineries? You can't make blown sugar without having some type of sugar

> production and I will admit that I know virtually nothing about China.  I

> know that the Arabic sugar production from cane supposedly started around

> the time of Mohammed.  Did the Chinese have "processed" cane sugar prior to

> the Arabs?

> Alys Katharine


They had sugar--


Sugar, Chinas most important sweetener, first appeared during the Tang

Dynasty (617 -907). During the Warring States Period (475 221 B.C.), people in the State of Chu had learned to extract the sweet flavoring from sugar cane juice. Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty sent an envoy to the Western Region to learn how to make sugar. After the envoy returned home, he used sugar cane from Yangzhou to make sugar. Its color and flavor were superior to that produced in the Western Region, so granulated sugar came to play a key role in Chinese cooking.


Because sugar is water-soluble, it became an important flavoring used to make food sweet and delicious. It is used in soup and in cooking all kinds of dishes. Malt sugar and honey, which were used as sweeteners and flavorings before the Han Dynasty, now are used mostly to make thick soup. http://www.china.org.cn/english/imperial/25995.htm


Peter Macinnis in Bittersweet. The Story of Sugar dates the arrival of cane to 200 BC. By 286 AD it's being sent as tribute. And Marco Polo mentions it in

China also.


Sanjida O'Connell in Sugar The Grass that Changed the World talks about sugar in China being a Buddhist introduction. The author talks about an Indian Buddhist hermit who had settled at See Tschuan as a hermit. He was credited with teaching locals a superior method of extracting sugar from their cane. Later the Emperor T'ai Tsung sent an envoy to Behar to learn the art of sugar boiling in circa 640.


By the Song Dynasty, sugar is being made into elaborate edible sweets. page 15





Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2005 12:07:21 -0400

From: "Phlip" <phlip at 99main.com>

Subject: Fw: Fw: [Sca-cooks] Re: Blown Sugar is Chinese Apparently

To: "SCA-Cooks" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> Phlip, maybe you can post this?


Done ;-)


> Sugar was common in India and south China by the Medieval period--in

> China by Song (11th or 12th century).  It was not really all that

> common in Eliz England.  It was a big elite deal.  It was a

> spice--expensive and usually used in tiny amounts.  Real conspicuous

> consumption was making jam or preserves, an idea they'd gotten

> indirectly from the Moors not much earlier.  Even the Chinese and

> Indians weren't using it in anything like modern amounts, but they

> did have a fair amount of it.  The Arabs brought sugar cane to

> Europe, so Europe was producing some from the middle middle ages (?!)

> on.  But not much.  Sugar took off as a European food only with the

> rise of plantations and slavery, in the 18th century.  See Sid Mintz

> SWEETNESS AND POWER and (more a personal note, because it started as

> a thesis that I was an advisor on) Sucheta Mazumdar SUGAR AND  


> best--Gene Anderson


Saint Phlip,




From: Mary Jenkins <mo.1010 at hotmail.com>

Date: February 16, 2006 9:32:45 PM CST

To: stefan at florilegium.org

Subject: Colonial Sugar Cones


I make these the simple way.  I use regular grandulated sugar, sprinkle in tiny amounts of water at a time, stir with a fork.  You will know when it is right to pack into a cone shaped container.  I use a plastic pilsner "glass" as a mold and pack it in as tightly as I can using the back of a spoon.  I then put a plate on top, turn it over and give it a little tap on the side of the container with the spoon. About 75% of the time a wonderful sugar cone pops out.  I let it dry out for several days, wrap it in royal blue tissue paper, tie off with a tiny blue ribbon and give it as a gift to my colonial lovin friends.  For the other 25% that fall apart on the plate and sprinkle sugar all over my counter, I just put it back in the bowl and add a little more water.   I do this for fun so it may not be exactly what your readers are looking for but it works for me.



From: Mary Jenkins <mo.1010 at hotmail.com>

Date: February 17, 2006 8:03:16 AM CST

To: StefanliRous at austin.rr.com

Subject: Re: Colonial Sugar Cones


> Are you actually dissolving the sugar in the water, or just  

> moistening the sugar?

> The sugar cones that I've found in hispanic stores and such tend  

> to  be browner in color and fairly slick on the outside, but not a  

> real  hard cone like "rock candy". But not crumbly either.

> Stefan


Sorry I wasn't clearer.  The sugar is slightly moistened...a wee bit  

at a time...until, with a little pressure from a spoon (or whatever)  

you know it will now stick together. Usually I use white sugar but  

I've tried this with darker sugars (those with varying amounts of  

molasses) and the results are fine.  Key points-- 1) add water a tiny  

bit at a time;  2) really apply the pressure when you pack it down  

(which is why I use a plastic mold and not glass) and,  3) give it  

time to dry out.  Which, depending on the environment, could take  

several days.  These cones are not slick and are hard but not quite  

as hard and rock candy.  Colonial ladies also used "clippers" or  

"chippers" to break off whatever amount they thought was needed  for  

their "proper" tea party.  I have never seen any for sale...would  

love to find a source.  Thanks.



Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2006 11:22:47 -0700 (PDT)

From: Huette von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar was Clotted Cream

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


>> While there is evidence that one scientist in 1590 experimented with

>> making beet sugar, nothing came of his experiments.


>> Huette

> Reference, please.

> Bear


Penguin Companion to Food, page 919, written by Ralph Hancock.


"The root of the plant was originally small and disagreeable in flavour, but with a noticeably sweet taste.  As early as 1590 the French botanist Olivier de Serres managed to extract a sugar syrup from it.  In those days cane sugar was still very expensive, so his discovery might have been exploited, but nothing came of it at the time."





Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2006 17:30:42 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] De Serres and Beet Sugar

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


I got interested in this quote by Ralph Hancock from the Penguin Companionto Food which is the Oxford Companion to Food in hardbound and hiding on my shelf.


"As early as 1590 the French botanist Olivier de Serres managed to extract a sugar syrup from it.  In those days cane sugar was still very expensive, so his discovery might have been exploited, but nothing came of it at the time."


I was curious as to where he got his information as the bibliography does not reference de Serres's Theatre d'Agriculture.  I went looking.  These sentences appear in a number of places differing only in date, which is usually given as 1575, 1560 or 1590, and what was extracted, sweet syrup, sugar syrup, sugar-like syrup.  My opinion is Hancock wrote them and a lot of people copied his work and hardly anyone has gone looking for anything close to the original reference.  I still haven't located Hancock's source.


From the variance in the dates, I would say no one knows when the actual experiment occurred.  The earliest publication date I have is 1600 and I have been informed that Theatre d'Agriculture underwent revision until the 1608 edition.  I suspect the 1629 date referenced in a couple of sources is the date of an English translation of the book.


Stephen Nottingham

( http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Stephen_Nottingham/

beetroot2.htm )

states the following:


"The French agronomist Olivier de Serres describes a type of beetroot in his Théâtre d'Agriculture of 1629 as, "a kind of parsnip which has arrived recently from Italy". He records that it has a very red and rather fat root, with thick leaves, and all of it is good to eat. He especially recommends the root as a choice food and notes that the juice it yields is like a sugar syrup, which is very beautiful on account of its vermilion colour."


Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World (1919)

( http://www.swsbm.com/Ephemera/Sturtevants_Edible_Plants.pdf ) provides the following two quotes:


"Olivier de Serres, in France, 1629, describes a red beet which was cultivated for cattle-feeding and speaks of it as a recent acquisition from Italy."


"The discovery of sugar in the beet is credited to Margraff in 1747, having been announced in a memoir read before the Berlin Academy of Sciences."


In 1749, Marggraf's work appeared in France as "Experiences Chymiques faites dans le dessein de tirer un veritable sucre de diverses plantes qui croissent dans nos cointrees."


William G. Freeman's Current Investigations in Economic Botany, New Phytologist, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan 31, 1907) quotes de Serres:


"the juice yielded on boiling is similar to sugar sirup."


From these quotes, I think it is safe to say de Serres extracted juice from beets by boiling to produce a sweet syrup. While this is the first step in commercial beet sugar refining, it is not the production of crystalline sugar (although the juice can be crystallized).  The apparent reason no one took any further action toward producing sugar was because the beet extract was not recognized as sucrose.  Had sugar refining techniques been used, recognizable sugar would have been produced, although the quantities would probably be too small for practical commercial extraction.


There is no particular evidence that Marggraf built upon de Serres's work, although a number of references suggest it.  Marggraf used an alcohol extraction process, crystallized the resulting juice and compared the crystals to other known crystals to demonstrate that beet extract was sucrose.


Marggraf's process produced too little sugar at too great a cost for commercial production. Commercial production began only after Achard found White Silesian Beets with 4-6% sugar by weight.


In my opinion, de Serres's syrup is an anomaly with no real bearing on the history of beet sugar.  He performed the first step of a commercial process, but had no idea of what he had done and did no further work on the problem. As far as I can tell, his work did not influence Marggraf or Achard, so there is no connection that direction.





Date: Wed, 31 May 2006 17:53:22 -0700

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Evaporated Cane Juice

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


This ingredients - Evaporated Cane Juice - is now appearing in many "health"-oriented and up-scale products.


Yeah, sure, it's sugar...

BUT...when you buy generic sugar in the USA it is often partly orcompletely beet sugar. But this is cane sugar.


Using this labeling leads to four things that I can think of, one of which is a benefit, and the other three purely for marketing purposes:

1.) makes it clear that it's cane, not beet or corn (good)

2.) makes it sound like a cooler foofier ingredient than it really is

3.) avoids saying sugar, which i guess some people think is a "bad word"

4.) might fool some people who aren't thinking clearly that it's not

a sweetener.


First, I'm actually somewhat heartened, because now when I buy some of these products I know they contain cane sugar and not beet or corn sweetener.


Second, I'm also somewhat disturbed, because while making it clearer what is in the product, it also somewhat obscures the fact that this is a sweetener to those who are not thinking clearly.


Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

the persona formerly known as Anahita



Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2006 19:47:26 -0700 (PDT)

From: Carole Smith <renaissancespirit2 at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar production

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Sugar production from sugarcane was described at some length by John Gerard in 1597, according to _Food_ by Waverly Root.  Mr. Root copyrighted his encyclopedic book in 1980.  It goes in and out of print, and I think it a fine reference.


   Cordelia Toser



Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2006 09:38:58 -0400

From: "Daniel  Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar production

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


There is about a page or so about sugar production from sugar cane in the third volume of the original Encyclopedia Britannica. While it was published at the end of the 1700's the process is probably pretty much the same as used in period.





Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2006 23:48:40 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar production

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> Has anyone read of how sugar was produced from cane written/

> described by someone (in period) in a letter somewhere?


Gerard provides a brief description of sugar refining in his Herbal, but finding the quote isn't easy.  You might be better advised to check Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking."


In general, the process (IIRC) is harvest the cane, break it, boil it, skim it, drain off the molasses, boil, skim and drain until you reach the clarity of sugar you want, use albumin from blood or egg white to remove impurities, pour the resulting liquid into a sugar mold (a hanging cone shape of cloth that allows water to escape) and leave it to drain and crystalize.  The albumin has been dropped from the modern process.


> Has anyone tried to grow or otherwise produce their own sugar using period

> methods to ascertain how close the various sugars available to us modernly

> are to period sugars?


Refined white sugar has been available since about 500 CE.  Since the color of sugar is a function of how much molasses remains in the sugar, all modern sugars have counterparts within period.  Any differences between period and modern sugars will be in additives to the modern sugars.  Powdered sugar, for example, contains cornstarch to prevent clumping while on the shelf. Period powdered sugar, being fresh from the mortar and pestle, didn't need the additive.


> Have you seen any paintings or drawings by artists in period which  

> might show the production of sugar?

> Kateryn de Develyn


McGee's book has a 16th Century print of sugar making and there are prints

and woodcuts that show various aspects of the process.





Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2006 18:02:15 EDT

From: SilverR0se at aol.com

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar production

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org


In a message dated 7/31/2006 11:34:07 AM Pacific Daylight Time,

nickiandme at att.net writes:


> Has anyone read of how sugar was produced from cane written/described by

> someone (in period) in a letter somewhere?


Gerard has a layman's description of the process in his Herbal, before he gets distracted by all the goodies that can be made of it.





Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2006 16:41:25 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] powdered sugar question take 2

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Pure white refined sugar from cane predates the Middle Ages.  It was expensive, but available. The little evidence I've seen suggests that powdered sugar was made from white sugar and I wonder if that may not be due to the molasses content of brown sugars.




> I wouldn't think Medieval sugar to be white, so I wonder if  

> powdered brown sugar wouldn't be more authentic.

> Duriel



Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2006 16:46:59 -0500

From: Anne-Marie Rousseau <dailleurs at liripipe.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] powdered sugar question take 2

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


On Mon Aug  7 15:41 , 'Terry Decker' <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net> sent:

> Pure white refined sugar from cane predates the Middle Ages.  It was

> expensive, but available. The little evidence I've seen suggests that

> powdered sugar was made from white sugar and I wonder if that may  

> not be due to the molasses content of brown sugars.

> Bear


It might be tricky to make modern brown sugar "powdery" since its pretty sticky from that molasses they tend to add back.


I have cooked with the cone sugar from Mexico, grating it and then smooshing it more in a mortar and pestle (a great activity for kids at demos :)).  It does get kinda white, eventually....





Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2006 19:10:46 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Master Bogdan on confectioner's sugar from 2003

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Before we dismiss powdered sugar with starch, here is a message from Master Bogdan (Jeffrey Heilveil) regarding starch in sugarpaste and starch in modern confectioner's sugars.


It first appeared on the MK Cooks List among other lists. (And yes I know that there is a difference between wheat starch and corn (maize) starch and as to what would have been used prior to 1600.)





[mk-cooks] confectioner's sugar is (sort of) OK for A&S

9/11/2003 9:16 AM


Gak.  Don't believe I typed that out loud.  Of course, if nothing else it got your attention, right?


So the problem we all have with confectioner's sugar is the 3% cornstarch. The problem with making our own is carpel-tunnel (for some of us) and time (for all of us, I hope).  Cornstarch is still wrong.... but starch   isn't.


I was doing some background research for an interview I'm doing on mead making and came across the following:


Hugh Plat Delightes for Ladies.

In "the art of preserving":

13. The making of sugar-paste, and casting thereof in carved molds.


"Take one pound of the whitest refined or double refined sugar, if you can gette it: put thereto three ounces (some comfit-makers put sixe ounces for more gaine) of the best starch you can buy; and if you dry the sugar after it is powdered, it will the sooner paste thorough your lawne searce..."


Let's see at 12oz/# that should be 20% starch then....  not 3%....

Wallpaper paste is wheat starch...

It would make for a VERY different sugarpaste than most of the other recipes I've seen.


Have fun.  Get sugar everywhere. Remember, it'll dissolve with water eventually...





Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2006 21:29:28 -0400

From: Daniel Myers <eduard at medievalcookery.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] powdered sugar question

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


On Aug 7, 2006, at 1:15 PM, Terry Decker wrote:

> If you are asking is powdered sugar period, the answer is yes.  It was

> produced by crushing regular sugar. Modern powdered sugar has

> cornstarch to keep it from clumping, which is the primary difference.


Then there's this from Hugh Plat's "Delights for Ladies":


"The making of sugar-paste, and casting thereof in carved moulds. Take one pound of the whitest refined or double refined sugar, if you can gette it: put thereto three ounces (some comfit-makers put six ounces for more gaine) of the best starch you can buy; and if you dry the Sugar after it is powdered, it wll the sooner paste thorough your Lawne Searce. Then searce it, and lay the same on a heap in the midst of a sheet of clean paper: ..."


- Doc


   Edouard Halidai  (Daniel Myers)



Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2006 07:42:05 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] powdered sugar question take 2

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Albumen was used with lime and heat to clarify the cane juice in the early stages of sugar making into the modern period.  The lime is still used to clarify the cane juice, but centrifugal extraction of molasses followed by activated carbon filtering replaces the gravity extraction and albumen.





You get white sugar by leeching out all of the molasses, the removing

the remaining impurities with albumen.




> Do you mean the albumen is used today? Or in period? Or both?

> Stefan




From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Date: September 25, 2006 9:15:07 PM CDT

To: SCA_Subtleties at yahoogroups.com

Subject: Description of Sugar Works in 1591


I have been looking for descriptions of sugar things from past centuries.

Tonight I came across the following account taken from The Progresses

of Queen Elizabeth by Nichols. These accounts weren't published until

late in the 18th and into the early 19th centuries. See

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/ren/research/nichols/progresses/ for

more about what they contained.

The good news is that sometime in 2007 the Progresses are due to be released

in a new edition by Oxford University Press.


What can we expect-- something along these lines:


This section is titled "Queen Elizabeth on Progress: A Bit of A Do"

It appears in Shakespeare's England, edited by R. E. Pritchard. 1999.


Elvetham House 1591


there was a banquet served all in glass and silver into the low gallery in the garden, from a hillside fourteen score off, by two hundred of my Lord Hertford's gentlemen, every one carrying so many dishes that the whole number amounted to a thousand, and there were to light their way a hundred torchbearers. To satisfy the curious, I will set down some particulars in the banquet.


Her Majesty's Arms in sugar-work.


The several Arms of all our nobility in sugar-work.


Many men and women in sugar-work and some enforced by hand [shaped by hand, not moulded]


Castles, forts, ordinance, drummers, trumpeters and soldiers of all sorts, in sugar-work.


Lions, unicorns, bears, horses, camels, bulls, rams, dogs, tigers, elephants, antelopes, dromedaries, apes and all other beasts in sugar-work.


Eagles, falcons, cranes, bustards, heronshaws, bitterns, pheasants, partridges, quails, sparrows, pigeons, cocks, owls and all that fly in sugar-work.


Snakes, adders, vipers, frogs, toads, and all kinds of worms, in sugar-work.


Mermaids, whales, dolphins, congers [eels], stugeons, pikes, carps, breams, and all sorts of fishes, in sugar-work.


All these standing dishes of sugar-work. The selfsame devices were also there all in flat work. Moreover, these particulars following, and many suchlike were in flat sugar-work and cinnamon.


Marchepanes, grapes, oysters, mussels, cockles, periwinkles, crabs, lobsters.


Apples, pears, plums of all sorts.


Preserves, succades, jellies, leaches, marmalades, pastes, comfits of all sorts...


Can't wait until we can actually get our hands on the edition.

Hope you've enjoyed this taste.


Johnnae llyn Lewis



Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2006 08:59:28 -0400

From: "Elise Fleming" <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] period fruit pastes (long and whiny and with

To: "sca-cooks at ansteorra.org" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Urtatim wrote:

> Of course there's the beet sugar vs. cane sugar issue. I've got a

> huge sack of pure cane sugar in my kitchen, but i suspect that most

> commercial preserves are made with the cheapest sugar they can get.

> Anybody have any idea if the sugar source will matter for fruit paste?


I wouldn't personally use any with beet sugar.  I had purchased 5 pounds of

sugar which, I believe, was mixed cane and beet.  It didn't perform the way

the pure cane sugar did.  Perhaps someone else might have had different

results and this _was_ quite a while ago when I was still working with

fruit pastes.  Didn't like the results _at all_!


Alys Katharine



Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 12:21:00 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Spices in England

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Sugar use in general expanded during the 15th Century due to greater

production.  Greater availability and some reduction in price increased the

demand which lead to the expansion in production in the Caribbean with all

of the attendent goods and ills.  The rise of the Antwerp sugar market,

which dominated the Northern European sugar trade, and a direct trading

compact between Antwerp and Cologne, tremendously expanded the use of sugar

in Central Europe.  IIRC, the currently definitive work on the subject has

been done by a gentleman named Harrell.


By the end of the 16th Century, the increased production of sugar worldwide

caused the prices to fall in relation to inflation and the cost of other

goods moving it from a luxury good to an expensive commodity.  I don't have

my copy of Braudel's series on Civilization and Capitalism handy, but I

remember that he provides an overview of the sugar trade between the 15th

and 18th Centuries that is a little more accessible than some other  





----- Original Message -----

The fifteenth and sixteenth century are the time when sugar starts becoming a

real sweetener rather than just another spice. The plantations first on the

Canary Islands, then in the Caribbean and South America ('Pernambuco sugar'

becomes a trademark in the latter half of the sixteenth century) lead to

increasing supply and dropping prices in spite of rising demand. Now, I can

not speak comprehensively to England, but I have a reasonable collection of

German cookbooks from that era and the use of sugar increases dramatically

between the early fifteenth and the late sixteenth century examples.  Since

there appears to be a Northern European cookrey tradition continuum (tmy

current project, the 1571 L?beck Koekerye, has many parallels with the Newe

Booke of Cookerye), I'd be surprised if we didn't see this in England.


AFAIR the *comparative* porices of spices to other goods did not increase.  It

was a matter of general inflation, with wages not keeping pace. Spices

certainly did not disappear from cookery, though it sees fashions changed.






Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 17:53:20 -0500

From: Daniel Myers <edoard at medievalcookery.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Sugar (was Re: Sca-cooks Digest, Vol 8, Issue 79)

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


On Jan 1, 2007, at 5:04 PM, Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius wrote:

> One other thing it might be worth remembering is that not all

> medieval recipe sources are for royal households (all tend to be for

> the well-off, but not necessarily for more than the middle class),

> but you can still map out some dishes from the 14th, 15th, 16th and

> 17th centuries and see how the character of the same named dishes has

> changed. For example, you may find 14th century recipes from England

> and France for preserved quinces that call for quinces and honey. The

> same recipe from the 15th century might (and in the case of this

> example, does) call for quinces, and a mixture of honey and sugar.

> Those same recipes are represented by 16th and 17th century sources,

> but they often leave out the honey entirely.


Interesting suggestion!  A quick look at just the quince marmalade

recipes I could easily get my hands on shows the following:


Le Menagier de Paris (France, 1393)  -  honey (no stated quantity or



Libro di cucina/ Libro per cuoco (Italy, ca 1400)  - 3 lbs. honey

(optional 6 oz. sugar)


A Treatise of Portuguese Cuisine from the 15th Century  -  2.5 kg

sugar (for 2 kg fruit)


The Good Housewife's Jewell (England, 1596)  -  4 lbs. sugar

(includes instructions for clarifying)


Delights for Ladies (England, 1609)  -  2 lbs. sugar (for 3 lbs. fruit)


The English Housewife (England, 1615)  -  1 lb. sugar (for 1 lb. fruit)


The only conclusions I can quickly draw from this are that sugar was

considered too valuable to be used to preserve quince before the

fifteenth century, and that after 1400 it was probably valued less

than marmalade.


- Doc



Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 20:32:53 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Sugar was Sca-cooks Digest, Vol 8, Issue 79

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


French, English and Dutch sugar cultivation in the Caribbean didn't take off

until the 17th Century, but you are completely ignoring the Spanish and

Portuguese.  The Spanish introduced sugar cultivation to the Caribbean in

1493 and in 1516 Hispanola's Governor of Mines presented the Carlos I (Holy

Roman Emperor Charles V) with six loaves of sugar from the New World, the

first recorded import of sugar from the Caribbean. In 1532, Charles paid

for improvements to his palace in Madrid with taxes on Caribbean sugar


By 1520, the Portuguese were growing and importing sugar from plantations in

Brazil.  The output of the Brazilian plantations permitted the Portuguese to

control the European sugar market by 1583.


There is a constant increase in the sugar supply in Europe from the mid-15th

to the 18th Century, which I believe is the definition of "expansion."  The

direct competition of the French, English and Dutch in the 17th Century made

sugar a commodity rather than a luxury.





     Sugar production did expand in the 15th C with Spain's acquisition

of the Canary Islands but I would not date the 'expansion' until the

17th Century when sugar plantations began to thrive in the Carribean.





Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 21:49:01 EST

From: Chawkswrth at aol.com

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar WAS Spices in England

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org


In a message dated 01/01/2007 12:40:35 PM Central Standard Time,

gordonse at one.net writes:


> Has anyone on the list ever made sugar from sugar cane or sugar  

> beets?  How did it go?

> Sharon


It would not be too hard to do. I grew up in South Louisiana, not too far

from the Godcheaux Plantations. I well remember traveling along Highway 90, and

seeing cane fields, interspersed with swamps....

You could tell the seasons, just by watching the fields. Spring, the ground

was a fuzzy green with new growth; summer, the cane fields were tall and green;

Fall, was the time of cutting and burning. They would burn over the cut cane,

before they would pick it up from the fields and take it into the factories.

I guess that started the juice of the cane running. Just cut cane is sweet,

but the 'burned' was even sweeter.


One would have to crush the cane, to extract the juice. Then it would have to

be boiled down. Brown sugar is sugar with some of the molasses still attached

to the crystals.


I would suppose that the cane was crushed by the same method that is used

today for Sorghum - a slow moving circular stone on stone method, usually driven

by oxen or mules.

Just a few thoughts...





Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2007 09:22:11 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sca-cooks Digest, Vol 8, Issue 79

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


There comes a time of course when the printed recipes in the

16th century begin to change from the use of honey to using sugar.

There were a number of reasons for this including the fact that sugar

works better.


"Nostradamus or Michel le Nostredame included much practical advice on

the use of sugar versus honey in preparing certain preserves of fruits.

This was a transitional period when the merits of sugar for certain

preparations was being recognized and being promoted. Nostradamus

recognized this situation, and he even goes far as to state:


            If I am to tell the truth, however, it is certain and there

is no doubt about it that sugar is best for preserving jelly, because it

will keep for a longer time. However, one can do as he likes in such

matters, but as far as I am concerned, I award the honours to items

preserved in sugar. [translation by Boeser. */The Elixirs of

Nostradamus/*, p.128]"


This would have been 1555. See my article in TI or Artes Draconis for

all the publication details.

The quotes above are taken from it.





Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 15:52:37 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar and slaves

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Herodotus and several other Greek writers refer to sugar as early as the 5th

Century BCE, but it is referenced as a rare medical ingredient.   Pliny, as I

recall, is referencing Nearchus's advance into India around 325 BCE.

Sometime around 500 BCE, sugarcane cultivation and sugar production began in

Mesopotamia, where it appears to have been encountered by the Arabs during

the Islamic expansion and introduced into the Mediterranean Basin.  To my

knowledge, there is no credible evidence for the claim of 3000 years of

sugar cultivation in Egypt.




>> nor did they find

>> sugar in Egypt which they cultivated from the 3,000 B.C but then of

>> course Egyptians did not exist either.

> <shrug> You'd think they would have known about sugar, but Pliny

> _does_ assert that the people of Hind had this curious habit of

> making honey from reeds. Certainly sugar isn't mentioned by Cato,

> Apicius, or Columella, as best as I can recall.

> Adamantius



Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 07:53:12 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] sugar cane

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> Does sugarcane ferment? Or is the sugar concentration in the sap too

> high for this?


I would think sugarcane would be more likely to mold than ferment, since the

sap is sealed in until you break the cane. Fermentation and rum occur in

the extracted cane juice.





Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2007 15:11:59 -0500

From: Gretchen Beck <grm at andrew.cmu.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] sugar cane

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>,     SCA-Cooks

        maillist SCA-Cooks <SCA-Cooks at Ansteorra.org>


<http://www.museudacachaca.com.br/produ_ing.html>; (a site about sugar

brandy) suggests that sugar cane will ferment more or less on its own:


The fermentation is called handmade when it happens in a spontaneous way

starting from the broken cane.


toodles, margaret



Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2007 12:27:59 -0800

From: Susan Fox <selene at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] sugar cane

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Stefan li Rous wrote:

> Does sugarcane ferment? Or is the sugar concentration in the sap too

> high for this?


Hmmm.  Well the sugar content of dry wine is about 21 - 25 percent,

while straight cane juice is more like 10-15, so I don't see why it

wouldn't, if yeast was introduced.  It's nowhere near as sugar-dense as

honey at something like 80 percent.





Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 16:12:57 EST

From: Devra at aol.com

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] sugarcane juice

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org


In one of her historical novels about 1830's New Orleans, Barbara Hambley

discussed the cutting and processing of sugar cane. According to her, the juice

must be boiled down fairly soon after crushing the cane and extracting it, or

the juice will go sour. She's usually fairly reliable in the historical

trivia  end of things.





Date: Sat, 6 Jan 2007 07:27:18 +0100

From: Volker Bach <carlton_bach at yahoo.de>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] sugarcane juice

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Am Freitag, 5. Januar 2007 22:12 schrieb Devra at aol.com:

> In one of her historical novels about 1830's New Orleans, Barbara Hambley

> discussed the cutting and processing of sugar cane. According to her, the

> juice must be boiled down fairly soon after crushing the cane and

> extracting it, or the juice will go sour. She's usually fairly  

> reliable in the historical trivia  end of things.


That's borne out in many of the accounts of sugar processing I've read. It

accounts for the very labour-intensive nature of sugar processing. Once

harvest comes around, you only have a fairly narrow time window in which to

cut the ripe cane, crush it before it rots and boil down the juice before it

goes off (I could not find any clearer reference here - may they be talking

about uncontrolled fermentation?) Hence sugar making was a rushed,

round-the-clock, extremely dangerous frenzy of backbreaking work that few

people in their right minds would voluntarily undertake. Explains some of the

more gruesome accounts of plantation slavery.





Date: Wed, 4 Jul 2007 10:30:06 -0700

From: Lilinah <lilinah at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] sugar and rice in Iberia

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


Stefan wrote:

> 711? Rice and sugar in Europe, even if you include Iberia, that

> early?  That is much earlier than I had gathered from earlier

> discussions.


The Muslims - a combined Arab and Maghribi Amazight (Berber) force -

began their invasion of the Iberian peninsula in 711. They defeated

the Visigoths, whose own people were not fond of them, and there are

reports that in some places the populace opened the city gates to

admits the Muslims.


> I'm surprised they wouldn't have spread north from there

> within centuries of then. I got the impression from earlier

> discussions that both came in from the east, not from the southwest.

> Or is this complicated by the fact that while known in Spain they

> weren't really widely used because they were still items that had to

> be imported from the east?


I rather doubt they were growing sugar and rice quite as early as the

initial invasion - folks need a little time to settle down. But

around 750 'abd al-Rachman arrived and became the ruler of the rather

cultured region of al-Andalus.


He was the last surviving member of the Umayyad dynasty, chosen by

the last of the Rightly Guided Ones who succeeded Muhammed to rule

Dar al-Islam from the capital of the Caliphate in Damascus. The

Umayyads were assassinated and otherwise murdered by the 'Abbasids

who decided to take over. 'abd al-Rachman's mother was Amazight and

it took him a few years to make it to his mother's family, who were a

bit uncomfortable with him, fearing his presence would draw the wrath

of the 'Abbasids, who moved the capital city to Baghdad. But he was

welcomed in al-Andalus


So it is possible that sugar and rice were grown in the Iberian

Peninsula within the 8th century, and they were there by the 9th.

Another crop - not food related - was also brought around this time:



Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

the persona formerly known as Anahita



Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2007 16:06:20 -0400

From: Suey <lordhunt at gmail.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Sugar and rice in Iberia

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org




      I think we talked about sugar before. Anyway Maria Teresa Castro

estimates that Muslims began planting sometime between the reigns of the

first three Ad la-Raman's, Umayyad rulers (760-961). During the 9th and

10th centuries it spread in Al-Andalus and areas around Seville

particularly. By 1150 Granada used 74,000 acres to cultivate it  and 14

sugar mills.





Date: Wed, 4 Jul 2007 17:24:29 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] sugar and rice in Iberia

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


<snip of rice info. See rice-msg file>


> Cane I believe comes from Egypt so again since the Romans and Visagoths had

> connections they would have known sugar. So both items are to my mind anyway

> extremely likely to have existed in Iberia(Spain) prior to 711 if as trade

> goods if nothing else.

> Cealian


Sugar cane comes from India, where sugar refining began around 500 BCE.

From there it spread to China and Persia.  While the Greeks and Romans knew

about sugar, it was present only as a rare, imported medicine.  Cane first

arrived on the eastern Mediterranean around 600 CE (J.H. Galloway), just in

time to become part of the Islamic expansion.  So it is highly unlikely that

Iberia had any experience with sugarcane.  As for it being a trade good,

until the Arabs conquered much of the Mediterranean and instituted sugarcane

cultivation where it could, there wasn't a sugar trade.





Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2007 10:27:55 -0400

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] sugar

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


On Jul 14, 2007, at 9:27 PM, Ysabeau Lists wrote:

> I have eaten raw sugar cane...a long long time ago as a kid. Mind you, these

> are the memories of a pre-2nd grader. I remember living in Florida and there

> was a sugar cane farm near our house. For a treat, my father would stop at

> this little stand and buy us chunks about the size of our hand of sugar cane

> that we would suck and chew on. It was like candy. You would chew and suck

> on the sugar cane to get the juice then spit out the pulp. The only think I

> can think of that it might possibly be sorta like would be sunflower seeds

> but sweet instead of salty...and no seeds. It was a stringy pulp

> and the cane was kind of bamboo like.


This is still done today in many parts of SE Asia and Latin America,

but there are also edible portions of the plant, rather like the

tender young hearts of palm, that are edible without having to spit

out the pulp. I seem to recall encountering them sliced fairly

thinly, roughly like a large, thick coin, and steamed with a chopped

shrimp stuffing on top...





Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2007 19:14:19 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] sugar

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> The problem with this is that brown sugar is a modern invention, in

> which a little molasses is added to refined white sugar to give it

> added color, flavor, and moisture.


Prior to modern centrifugal refining, brown sugar was produced during the

refining process which gradually extracted the molasses.  Since centrifugal

separation goes almost directly to refined white sugar, modern refiners

developed the technique of adding molasses back to white sugar to get  

brown sugar.


> All of the evidence I've seen indicates that by the time sugar was

> being used in cooking instead of honey (in northern Europe), that

> they were already able to refine it as white as it can be made now,

> and could powder it just as finely as we can now.


Outside of some technological improvements, the process of producing  

refined white sugar is still pretty much the same as it was in 500CE.


> If you're trying to re-create the cooking of the poor, you'd be

> better off using honey.  Those who could afford sugar could also

> afford to use fine white sugar where it was appropriate.

> - Doc


Since refining was an iterative process, each pass added to the cost.

Generally, if you didn't need white sugar for some specific effect, lower

grades of sugar (if you required the taste of sugar) or honey could  

be used.


I quite agree that the choice of honey or sugar in cooking would be

dependent on time, place and social class.





Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2008 23:27:30 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] treacle RE:  German Breads

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Quite correct and definitely an error on my part for not verifying the

usage.  According to my OED, using treacle to refer to sugar syrup first

appears in the 17th Century.  Prior to that it was a remedy for poison with

a number of recipes if the named variants are any indicator.




> Comment: treacle in period would not be sugar syrup, but a medicine made

> from a variety of ingredients whose recipe we are not sure of. It's

> documented all over the place, but there are few and conflicting recipes.

>> Long shot here - how about the use of fruit pulp instead of  

>> molasses or honey, say pounded raisens?


>> -----Original Message-----

>> Treacle and molasses come out of the sugarmaking process, so my argument

>> against their use in period German bread is same.

>> Let me say that this is my analysis and interpetation of the situation

>> and that I have no direct evidence of the use or non-use of molasses  

>> in the German States during the 15th and 16th Centuries.

> --

> -- Jenne Heise / Jadwiga Zajaczkowa



Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2008 14:42:43 -0500

From: Stefan li Rous <StefanliRous at austin.rr.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Syrup from Maple and other trees

To: SCA-Cooks maillist SCA-Cooks <SCA-Cooks at Ansteorra.org>


Eira said:

<<< maple syrup perhaps... but a lot of different trees have sap that

i find hard to believe no one would have tried to do something with.

Have to look at the trees across europe now.  ;c) >>>


Yes, maple syrup is definitely New World. In fact it comes from a

specific type of Maple tree. Getting useable maple sap from the tree

also depends upon having specific climatic conditions, of cold

followed by a specific warming. Maple trees from the U.S. have been

transplanted to Europe, but at least as of several years ago, none

would produce useable (commercial?) quantities of sap.


In fact, Maple syrup wasn't common outside of its immediate local

harvesting area until the middle of the 19th century when better

transportation was developed. What was marketed before that time was

maple sugar, which is what you get if you keep boiling the maple sap

down until all of the moisture is gone.


This book has a good section on the history of Maple Syrup and on

harvesting and processing it.

Sugartime: The Hidden Pleasures of Making Maples Syrup

Hauser, Susan Carol

ISBN: 1-55821-599-9

"Sugaring is the act of collecting maple sap to make maple syrup, an

early-spring endeavor that takes place all around the country - in

Vermont, most famously, but also throughout New England, as far south

as Ohio, and as far west as Minnesota. It is a time-honored tradition

that has changed little since the Native Americans sugared centuries

ago. Sugartime is a beautifully rendered narrative about the act of

sugaring, a soulful activity that, like the best of outdoor hobbies,

slows time down. Interspersed with the book's lyrical account of a

season in the sugarbush are separate sections that serve as a primer

to guide the beginner through every stage of surgaring, from

selecting trees and hanging sap buckets to finishing off maple syrup.

For anyone with an interest in taking up sugaring, everyone who has a

maple tree, and all those with a nostalgia for the rural landscape

Sugartime will be a joy to discover. (43/4 X 73/4, 148 pages, b&w

photos, illustrations)"002


Trying to do something and succeeding are two different things. :-) I

believe there are some trees in Europe which provide a useable sap,

but they don't have the high sugar content of Sugar? Maples. I think

birch might be one of these that was tapped.




THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad   Kingdom of Ansteorra

     Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas



Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2008 22:07:36 -0400

From: ranvaig at columbus.rr.com

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Tree Saps: Was New World Food

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> I can't answer the question directly but I have been aware of birch

> syrup.  Since Scandinavia is full of birch trees looking in Northern

> sources for references to tapping birch trees seems appropriate.


Birch sap is much less sweet than sugar maple, it may have been a  

local item, but I doubt that it was used widely as a sweetener.




> Making birch syrup is more difficult than making maple syrup,  

> requiring about 80 to 110 liters of sap to produce one liter of  

> syrup (more than twice that needed for maple syrup). The tapping  

> window for birch is generally shorter than for maple, primarily  

> because birches live in more northerly climates. The trees are  

> typically tapped and their sap collected in the spring (generally  

> mid- to late April, about two to three weeks before the leaves  

> appear on the trees). Birches have a lower trunk and root pressure  

> than maples, so the pipeline or tubing method of sap collection  

> used in large maple sugaring operations is not as useful in birch  

> sap collection.





Birch sap differs significantly, however, from maple in that it has  

simple sugars (glucose and fructose) rather than the more complex  

sugars of maple (sucrose). There are also other differences in  

chemical composition.


Roughly 100 gallons of sap are required to make a gallon of birch  

syrup. Maple syrup, on the other hand, requires about 40 to 50  

gallons of sap per gallon of syrup.





Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2008 18:29:49 -0400

From: Daniel Myers <edoard at medievalcookery.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] "Adulterated" Flour

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


On Jun 3, 2008, at 5:52 PM, Lilinah wrote:

<<< On yet another hand, nearly all powdered sugar contains cornstarch,  

which could be what Richard was remarking on.


However (yet another hand in motion here, folks, don't step over  

the moving rubber line) it's easy to make one's own, by whirling  

pure cane granulated sugar in a food processor until you've got  

powder (may need to sift). >>>


Note that the practice of adding starch to powdered sugar can be  

documented back to at least 1609.


"13 - The making of sugar-paste, and casting thereof in carved  

moulds. Take one pound of the whitest refined or double refined  

sugar, if you can gette it: put thereto three ounces (some comfit-

makers put six ounces for more gaine) of the best starch you can buy;  

and if you dry the Sugar after it is powdered, it wll the sooner  

paste thorough your Lawne Searce. Then searce it, and lay the same on  

a heap in the midst of a sheet of clean paper: ...."   [Delights for  

Ladies, H. Plat]


Of course that would probably have been wheat starch instead of corn  



- Doc


  Edouard Halidai  (Daniel Myers)



Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2008 19:20:16 -0700 (PDT)

From: Huette von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar in China?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> When did the Chinese start refining and using sugar?


The methods of growing sugarcane and processing sugar were technologies transferred to China from India in the 7th century, during the reign of Harsha (r. 606-647) over North India and the reign of Emperor Taizong (r. 626-649) over Tang China. Two sugar makers summoned from leaders of Mahabodhi Temple traveled alongside a delegation of Buddhist monks to China, where they successfully taught the Chinese how to grow sugarcane and produce sugar.





Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2008 22:20:44 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar in China?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> When did the Chinese start refining and using sugar?


Early, very early in fact. I actually own the text that covers sugar in

China. It was recommended to me by Gene Anderson.


Sugar and Society in China: Peasants, Technology, and the World Market

(Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series) by

Sucheta Mazumdar. Harvard University Asia Center (October 30, 1998)


I've read the sections on confectionary and pulled sugar, although it's been

a while. I bought the book in 2005 and it's nearly 700 pages.


It so happens that the chapter on sugar from the Cambridge World History

of Food is available to look at:






Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 09:11:52 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Cassenadt


Cassonade refers to a type of sugar transported in a caisson (chest or box).

Specifically, cassonade is a dark brown sugar, heavy in molasses.  A couple

of references suggest that it will not form a proper sugar loaf and is

transported in boxes for that reason.





Date: Fri, 2 Apr 2010 14:56:00 +1100

From: Mark Calderwood <giles at sca.org.au>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] sugar

To: "The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list"

        <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


On 01/04/2010, at 11:15 PM, C Lenehan wrote:

<<< Actually I meant jaggery/ jaggeree/ gura.  I know I can easily be  

wrong, but I thought that the use of the sap of the palm to produce  

this (not the chopped dates) was period. >>>


Oh yes, what we know as palm sugar today. It's possibly period for  

Asia, but not Europe or even the middle east.


Jagaree/palm sugar is made from the sap of the Palmyra palm (genus  

Borassus) or sugar date palm (phoenix sylvestris). The former doesn't  

have anything to do with the Aramaic city in the ancient near east,  

however, being found in tropical regions of west Africa, Madagascar  

and south east Asia. The latter is native to India, Pakistan and  

Bangladesh. Both are quite warm humid climates so it's not likely  

they'd be met with even in the medieval middle east.


As to its use in cooking, it seems to be a 'traditional' staple of  

west and south Asian cooking, but I can't find anything about it used  

in the middle east: all the Arabic cookbooks use sukkar (cane sugar)  

exclusively. Cane sugar was extensively cultivated in the Muslim  

world since at least the 8th century.


I didn't see anything on a super hasty skim of the Nimatnama, the  

only other reference I could find was in a biography of Chatrapati  

Shivaji in the 1670s, which mentions it as a less valuable crop for  

tax assessment (3 maunds per bigha- I'm guessing weights/values per  

cultivation area) than sugarcane at 64 maunds.





Date: Fri, 02 Apr 2010 09:15:45 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] date and palm sugar


Here's the Palm sugar information:


The Encyclopedia of Food and Culture says:


"Palms. Various species of palms have for centuries been tapped?

notably in southern and southeastern Asia?for their sweet sap, which  

is drunk fresh or fermented. Alternatively, the sap has been boiled  

down until it sets to a solid mass of fudgelike consistency, called  

gur or jaggery, or is distilled to produce arrack. Among palm species  

exploited in these ways are the palmyra (Borassus flabellifer), the  

toddy fishtail or jaggery palm (Caryota urens), the coconut palm  

(Cocos nucifera), the nipa palm (Nipa fruticans), and a wild date palm  

(Phoenix sylvestris) related to the palm of commercial date production  

(P. dactylifera), the fruits of which are also a source of sugar."



jaggery 1. A coarse dark brown sugar made in India by evaporation from  

the sap of various kinds of palm.

1598 HAKLUYT Voy. II. I. 252 Sugar which is made of the nutte called  

Gagara: the tree is called the palmer. 1598 tr. Linschoten's Voy. 102  

Of the aforesaide Sura they likewise make Sugar, which is called Iagra.



sugar palm   Arenga saccharifera (syn. A. pinnata); grows wild in  

Malaysia and Indonesia; sugar (sucrose) is obtained from the sap.  

Various other palms are also tapped for sugar, or to make palm wine,  

including mokola palm (Hyphaene petersiana), lala palm (H. coriacea),  

palmyra or Borassus palm (Borassus flabellifer), nipa palm (Nypa  

fruticans), wild date palms (Phoenix sylvestris and P. reclinata),  

buri palm (Corypha utan or C. elata), and fishtail or toddy palm  

(Caryota urens).


from  "sugar palm"  A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. Ed. David A.  

Bender. Oxford University Press 2009.


Think of it as the equivalent of taping maple trees.


One of the problems with tracing this consumption and use is we have  

limited historical recipes for Southeast Asia.



Dates and date sugar


One important thing to keep in mind is that dates vary in the amount  

of sugar they yield. Some are 80 per cent invert sugar. Some are half  

that amount.


As to what the Elizabethans knew of it, this appears in:


The first booke of the historie of the discouerie and conquest of the  

East Indias, enterprised by the Portingales, in their daungerous  

nauigations, in the time of King Don Iohn, the second of that name  

Set foorth in the Portingale language, by Hernan Lopes de Castaneda.  

And now translated into English, by N.L. Gentleman. 1582


Of the departure of the Captaine Generall from Calycut towarde  

Portingale, and what further happened vnto him being in the Iland  

Ansandina. Cap. 22.


"And they bearing after this sorte, was broken the Rudder of one of  

the same, by reason whereof those that were within the ship were  

forced to go in their boats toward the lande. Nicholas Coello who was  

next to this ship, went immediatly and layde the same aboord, thinking  

ind?ede to finde in it some greate shore of riches, howbeit there was  

nothing els but Cocos and Melasus, which is a certeine kinde of Sugar  

made of Palmes or Date tr?es."





Date: Fri, 2 Apr 2010 08:23:45 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] date sugar


Date sugar is finely chopped dates.  I have seen no mention of it's use in

period.  While it can be used as a sweetner, it doesn't dissolve and

reconstitute the way cane sugar does, making it a poor choice for baking and

making dishes of smooth texture.  Even if date sugar was used in period,

cane sugar would be considered the superior product.


Jaggery is unrefined sugar made from cane juice or palm sap.  The word is of

Dravidian origin entering European languages through Portuguese (the first

English use I have recorded is Hakluyt in 1598).  In the Mediterranean basin

and Near East, it was primarily produced from cane. These two facts suggest

that the production of sugar from palm sap probably began on the Indian

sub-continent and the product was transferred to Europe by the Portuguese.

AFAIK, jaggery can not be identified as to source without chemical analysis.

While I have encountered period descriptions of sugar being produced from

cane, I have yet to encounter one describing sugar production from palm sap

(although Hakluyt might be a good place to look).





Date: Fri, 02 Apr 2010 10:47:06 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Clove defined and symbolism


Been investigating cloves and gillyflowers through various academic  

databases and my books at hand here at home. (Yes, once started on an  

interesting subject, it's hard to stop.) Perhaps the best explanation  

or definition comes from the entry on "clove"  as found in An A-Z of  

Food and Drink. Ed. John Ayto. Oxford University Press, 2002.


"clove   Etymologically, a clove is a 'nail'. English acquired the  

term for this dried unopened aromatic flower bud of a tree of the  

eucalyptus family in the thirteenth century from Old French clou de  

girofle, which meant literally 'nail of the clove-tree' (an allusion  

to the shape of the clove, with its bulbous head and thinner body).  

English took the term over originally as clow of gilofer (gilofer was  

subsequently 'englished' to gillyflower, which at first was used for  

'clove', and only later came to be applied to clove-scented pinks,  

wallflowers, etc.); but by the end of the fourteenth century clove was  

being used on its own for the spice. Cloves were popular in medieval  

Europe, and were used as extensively in both sweet and savoury dishes  

as their considerable expense would allow the journey from their  

original home in the Spice Islands (now the Moluccas, in Indonesia)  

was long and risky. Their particular shape allows them to be pressed  

into oranges, onions, etc. like little studs, producing two flavouring  

agents in one. The clove of garlic, incidentally, is a completely  

different word, which comes from the same Germanic source as the  

English verb cleave."





Objections have been raised in the last few days about the presence of  

cloves in the 14th century syrosye recipe where one finishes the dish  

by "set thereyn clowe gilofre."


One possible meaning not yet discussed for the cherry pottage recipes  

to contain cherries with whole cloves is that there is a symbolism to  

the dish that we have forgotten. Cherries represented the Blood of  

Christ and the Passion of Christ. (Numerous paintings have the Christ  

Child reaching for or the Virgin Mary holding fresh cherries.) To  

place carefully on the surface of such a dish of cherries, whole  

cloves representing nails (the nails of the Crucifixion?) might not  

seem so misplaced to the diners of the 1300's.


Just a thought,





Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2010 17:18:10 -0400

From: Elise Fleming <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

To: sca-cooks <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] A Sallet of all Kinds of Hearbes and



Huette wrote:

<<< Sugar: Again, whatever you prefer. I used regular white sugar, but I

thought that a light or golden brown sugar would be fine also.

Elizabethans had both. I suppose that raw sugar could be used if you

don't mind the added expense. All have slightly different tastes, but

all are within period usage. >>>


For the sake of argument and fussiness (OK, anal-retentive!) I would

question whether brown sugar was used.  Modern brown sugar has some

molasses put back into it and that wasn't what was available or used in

period, AFAIK.  The refining process sometimes left the core of the

sugar loaf with a liquid which hadn't crystalized. Folk weren't too

happy about finding that instead of the solid sugar that they'd paid for.


While most sugar wasn't a blinding white like what we purchase today,

white sugar could be obtained and the richer you were, the whiter the

sugar you wanted.  Beige-ish sugar could be processed more to get it

whiter - animal blood was one of the things used.


So, I would say no to both light and golden brown sugar.  The texture is

not correct.  Turbinado or raw sugar would possibly be used by people

who couldn't afford to buy the more refined white sugar.  For your dish

which, based on the ingredients, could have been used by an upper middle

class family, an off-white sugar might be fine.


The crystals of the sugar would probably have been bigger than what's in

our 5-lb bags.  Period people needed to scrape chunks and crystals off

the cone.  My opinion, such as it is, is that there was no need to have

a finely-ground product for a salad.  Larger crystals such as are found

in turbinado sugar (and I don't remember the name of the large-crystal

UK product) would have added a nice glitter to the salad.  Modern sugar

would dissolve on any wet surface and disappear.


Alys K., pontificating



Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2010 08:47:25 -0400

From: Elise Fleming <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

To: sca-cooks <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Sugar: Was A Sallet of all Kinds of Hearbes and



Katherine wrote:

<<< ... I have a sugary question I have been pondering.  I've now read a

few instructions in apothocary type handbooks that tell you how to

clean sugar with egg whites.  I got really curious when I saw someone

make an egg-white 'raft' on the cooking channel and had the a-ha

moment when I saw how it floated up the mirepoix particulate matter in

the stock that was being prepared.  Has anyone here tried to do that

with a sugar cone?  I would have to go back and read it, but is the

sugar allowed to re-crystallize?  Is the sugar whiter? >>>


I _think_ that clarifying sugar to get rid of impurities left during

processing is different than the initial purification/refining process

of making a whiter and whiter sugar.  Memory of reading books on the

medieval process says that animal blood or charcoal was used in the

initial process of processing sugar and making it into sugar cones.  The

egg white process would be what the "home cook" would do to make it more

useful for the desired dish.  I'm not sure that it's a good analogy, but

we get foods such as mushrooms which have been harvested for use (think

sugar cones) but we still have to trim ends and wash off dirt

(clarifying sugar) before we can use them in a prepared dish.


As to re-crystallizing...Anyone got the facts?  My guess is that if the

sugar was supposed to be in a liquid form for the recipe (such as making

a fruit paste or candying seeds), there would be no need to let it

re-crystallize.  Sugar to be sprinkled on as decoration wouldn't need

clarification, nor would sugar added to provide sweetness (to a sauce,

for instance).


Off the top of my head, I don't recall any recipes where sugar, to be

used in granules in a prepared dish, is clarified. I've usually seen

clarification called for when a syrup or a liquid is wanted.  The only

one I can think of that might call for clarification (where the result

is a sugar crystal) would be rock candy, and that went through a

liquid/syrup form before being re-crystallized.


Alys K.



Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2010 10:54:46 -0700

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] A Sallet of all Kinds of Hearbes and



Alys wrote:

<<< For the sake of argument and fussiness (OK, anal-retentive!) I would

question whether brown sugar was used.  Modern brown sugar has some

molasses put back into it... >>>


This may have been true once upon a time, and may still be with some

rare sugar products. But the vast majority of brown sugar products in

USAmerican supermarkets does not have added molasses to color the

otherwise white sugar. On most packages it says that the sugar is

colored with caramel or caramel coloring, which can be more white

sugar which has been cooked and caramelized.


Urtatim [that's err-tah-TEEM]

the persona formerly known as Anahita



Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2010 11:17:15 -0700 (PDT)

From: wheezul at canby.com

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar: Was A Sallet of all Kinds of Hearbes

        and Cucumbers


Katherine wrote:

<< I would have to go back and read it, but is the

sugar allowed to re-crystallize?  Is the sugar whiter? >>


As to re-crystallizing...Anyone got the facts?  My guess is that if the

sugar was supposed to be in a liquid form for the recipe (such as making

a fruit paste or candying seeds), there would be no need to let it

re-crystallize.  Sugar to be sprinkled on as decoration wouldn't need

clarification, nor would sugar added to provide sweetness (to a sauce,

for instance).

Alys K.



It always helps to go back and read things :)


In "Warhafftige, k?nstliche und gerechte underweisung und anzeygung, alle

Latwergen, Confect, Conserven, eynbeytzungen und einmachungen ... zu

bereytten" the cleaning process (6 beaten egg whites to 3 pounds of sugar)

then proceeds to the making of a sugar syrup after an inital cooking where

the egg whites are strained through a wool cloth. The syrup then resumes

its boil and the instructions say to drop a bit of syrup onto a marble or

cool mortar.  When it sticks together and doesn't run it's done.  That

sounds sort of like 'soft ball' stage to me.  In another apothocary manual

by the same author (Ryff) he suggest a white woollen cloth and merely says

to boil it to the consistency of ordinary honey.  I think there were also

instructions in the new cookbook posted from Augsburg...





Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2010 15:43:00 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugars was A Sallet of all Kinds of Hearbes

        and Cucumbers


<<< Do you mean Demerara, by any chance?


Adamantius >>>


There's also this cane sugar product made in the USA.

Maui Brand Natural Cane Sugars are made in Maui by Hawaiian Commercial  

& Sugar Company using 100% cane sugar grown on our 37,000-acre central  

Maui plantation. We've extracted the pure sweetness from the cane  

juices, retaining some of the natural molasses in the crystals, to  

bring you superior quality natural sugars that will enhance the flavor  

of your favorite beverages, cereals, baked goods, and recipes.


Maui Brand Natural Cane Sugars come in two styles: Natural White? and  

Premium Maui Gold?.




We toured the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum when we were there in  

2007 and drove through a number of the fields.





Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2010 15:47:49 -0400

From: Elise Fleming <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

To: sca-cooks <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] A Sallet of all Kinds of Hearbes and

        Cucumbers     (Sugar Related)


Urtatim and I wrote:


Alys wrote:

<<< For the sake of argument and fussiness (OK, anal-retentive!) I would

question whether brown sugar was used.  Modern brown sugar has some

molasses put back into it... >>>


This may have been true once upon a time, and may still be with some

rare sugar products. But the vast majority of brown sugar products in

USAmerican supermarkets does not have added molasses to color the

otherwise white sugar. On most packages it says that the sugar is

colored with caramel or caramel coloring, which can be more white

sugar which has been cooked and caramelized.



My packages don't have any list for caramel coloring, just sugars (of

which molasses is one).  Perhaps I shouldn't have said "put back into

it".  That would, indeed, imply that that there was white sugar with

molasses then added back.  Sorry to have been that unclear.  In any

case, brown sugar hasn't gotten to the white sugar stage in refining

because there still is that "molasses" content.  In medieval times,

sugar was processed to varying colors, but (IIRC) all of them hard

enough to form a cone.  Now, I can get my brown sugar to dry out hard,

but that wasn't how the sugar cones were formed. Internet searching

shows the following.


Wikipedia says there still is molasses

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_sugar): Brown sugar is a sucrose

sugar product with a distinctive brown color due to the presence of

molasses. It is either an unrefined or partially refined soft sugar

consisting of sugar crystals with some residual molasses content, or it

is produced by the addition of molasses to refined white sugar.


Brown sugar contains from 3.5% molasses (light brown sugar) to 6.5%

molasses (dark brown sugar). The product is naturally moist from the

hygroscopic nature of the molasses and is often labeled as "soft." The

product may undergo processing to give a product that flows better for

industrial handling. The addition of dyes and/or other chemicals may be

permitted in some areas or for industrial products.


From Big Oven: http://www.bigoven.com/whatis.aspx?id=Brown%20Sugar


Brown sugars (light and dark) are produced from a blending of white

sugar and natural or processed molasses. They are made from sugar cane

or sugar beets and add a delicate sweet flavor to a wide range of foods.




Light (golden) and dark brown sugars are classified as either sticky or

free-flowing. Most of the mass-produced products are a blend of

purified, or refined, sugar and molasses. Raw cane sugars that have a

brown coating also fall into this category.


Piloncillo (little pylons) is a Mexican unrefined brown sugar with no

molasses, but is similar in taste to American versions. The compressed

hard cone can be scraped with a serrated knife. It is sold as light or dark.


In India, palm, or jaggery, sugar is the brown sugar used most. It is

available in hard cones or in pourable form and also is very popular in

Thai recipes.


Other derivatives of raw brown sugars are labeled "muscavado,"

"turbinado", and "demerera". These must be refined to some extent for

sale in the U.S. to remove impurities and bacteria.





Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2010 17:00:12 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sugar


We have the one early specific recipe which appears in Curye on  

Inglysch. It's the GK 11 recipe

which is from Harley 2378 "To clarifie sugar." This is clearly a step  

one recipe because you take the sugar, the water and the egg whites  

and follow all the instructions so that when you are done you may end  

up with clarified sugar. The recipe ends: "And wyth (th)at suger  

(th)ou may make all maner confectyons."


The recipes that follow in that manuscript are then for a number of  



Le Ouverture de Cuisine includes a recipe for "To prepare sugar for  

casting images & fruits."


To prepare sugar for casting images & fruits. Mix melted sugar with  

rose water as much as you would like to have, & let it boil a long  

time until it becomes like syrup, when boiling add two well beaten egg  

whites, at the end the sugar will be very white, then pass the melted  

sugar through a fine sieve to separate out the egg white, then put the  

sugar back on the fire, & let it boil a long time, stirring the sugar  

with a spatula, casting it on top, if you see that it falls like snow  

then it is cooked enough, then take it from the fire, it must always  

be mixed with a spatula that it will become like little grains &  

little bubbles, then cast it in the form of fruit or images as wanted.  



In this case the sugar starts out being melted.


Countess Alys asked what clarification. I suppose the question is also  

in how one  interprets phrases associated with sugar in recipes. Many  

don't specify anything other than just sugar, but others are quite  



"for every pound of Cheries strew upon them a pound of good white  

sugar in pouder" in To make cherries in confection. A Book of Cookrye


The prune recipe in the same book merely says "save that for every  

pound of Prunes take xii. ounces of sugar..."


Delights for Ladies calls for "Dissolve refined or double refined  

sugar, or sugar-candy itself in a little Rose water" when one candies  

rosemary flowers and for marigolds it says "double refined Sugar upon  

them, and turne them, and let them boile a little longer, taking the  

dish from the fire: then strew more powdered Sugar on the contrary  

side of the flowers." Other times in the same volume we are told to  

"Take one pound of fine sugar..." Le Ouverture calls for "To make  

sugar paste. Take fine sugar well sifted with a fine sieve..."


Lastly, from John Partridge's Treasurie of Commodious Conceits (which  

I just supplied to medievalcookery.com)


"To Make MANVS CHRISTI. Chapter xxxv. TAke halfe a pownde of white  

Suger" says John Partridge. He also instructs "To keepe Damsins in  

syrop. TAke Damsins & picke them wt a knife, or a pi the take  

clarified Suger as much as you shall thinke wil serue & then you must  

boyle it til it be as thick as birdlime: Then boyle your Damsins in ye  

clarified sugre, til they be soft..." and for barberries "To keepe  

Barberyes. cap.lvi. TAke claryfied Suger, & boyle it tyll it be  



I think we can say it varies, but it would be an interesting study to  

run through all the English or French or German recipes and see what  

is called for when sugar is specified.



The important thing to remember Katherine or anyone else that wants to  

try this process at home would be to work with 100 per cent cane  

sugar. For all those reasons why, we have archives that go into it  

(hundreds of post on this question in the past) and there's this great  

award winning article by Rose Levy Beranbaum on sugar too.

Rose's Sugar Bible

Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published originally in; Food Arts Magazine, April 2000



Laura Mason's book Sugar-Plums and Sherbet has an excellent section on  

sugar for those wanting to read something.





Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2014 22:10:02 -0600

From: "TerryDecker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] nutmeg leaves


Molasses is a byproduct of sugar refining.  Sugar has been refined since

roughly the 5th Century BCE.  Sugar cane was being grown and being refined

in Europe by the 9th Century, so molasses showed up in Europe by at least

the 9th Century.  According to the log of Columbus's first voyage, molasses

was being carried as a foodstuff/trade good.




<<< Maybe I'm wrong about when molasses (from sugar) showed up in Europe. I'd

assumed late 17th C. for reasons similar to that above. [ie: Why ship molasses, which is a byproduct of sugar refining, all the way to Europe, when you can ship sugar, for more profit.)


Stefan >>>


<the end>


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