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musk-msg - 3/11/15


Secretions from the glands of the male musk deer used in perfumes and some medieval Middle Eastern recipes. Substitutes.


NOTE: See also the files: merch-spices-msg, gums-resins-msg, perfumes-msg, Perfumes-bib, M-Aphrodisiacs-art, fd-Mid-East-msg, ME-revel-fds-art.





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



Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 13:10:54 -0800 (PST)

From: Samrah <auntie_samrah at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Asabi Zainab: Musk

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Berelinde spaketh the truth:

> The musk is a tricky deal breaker. I might want to try a

> little screw-pine essence (Indian stores) for an unusual

> flavor. Pine isn't the same as musk. Nothing else would

> taste likemusk but musk. But unless you work for IFF or

> Firmenich, or some other fragrance supplier, you probably

> can't get musk.


As one who has made her living from fragrances and spices, I can tell

you positively the use of real musk is illegal in the US. So far as I

know there is no substitute in fragrance or food.  Then again, I'm

good, but I am not the fragrance goddess ;o).  I had not heard of

"muskseed". According to professionals who have allegedly smelled real

musk, it is a good deal darker, denser, etc., than what is currently

being passed off as musk now.  Musk does not seem to have any green

smell to it from what I understand.  I would be inclined to use some of

my favorite spice, blatantly alter the recipe, but remember to tell

everyone I did.





Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 16:15:47 -0500

From: Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Asabi Zainab: Musk

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> As one who has made her living from fragrances and spices, Ican tell

> you positively the use of real musk is illegal in the US.  As far as I

> know there is no substitute in fragrance or food.  Then again, I'm

> good, but I am not the fragrance goddess ;o).  I had not heard of

> "muskseed".


I believe the term is used for ambrette seed.


-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net



Date: Tue, 07 Dec 2004 23:42:27 GMT

From: "rtanhil" <rtanhil at fast.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Musk in food

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


I wouldn't dream of using real musk for a feast, even if

such a thing were possible. In fact, I wouldn't dream of

using it in my own kitchen.


Way back when, lo these many years ago, I dated a

professional perfumer. I went in to work with him one day

and got to smell an amazing assortment of individual

isolated fragrance component. I remember the musk vividly.

I can't imagine someone smelling that and thinking "Wow,

this would be a great addition to pastry!" but then, I have

trouble visualizing the scene where the first person picked

up a lobster and thought "This might be yummy."  The

difference is that I like lobster. I do not particularly

care for musk.


If I were making that recipe, I, too would alter it

drastically, either by adding one of my own favorites, or

perhaps adding something weird (like say, cumin in trace

quantities)and making sure everyone knew it was there. Or

I'd just leave it out. I like rosewater and nuts together,

and don't really need to throw anything else in there.


But I wouldn't try for the musk. I wonder what one of our

true Middle Eastern foods experts would suggest.





From: "lilinah at earthlink.net" <lilinah at earthlink.net>

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Sent: Sat, January 15, 2011 4:40:47 PM

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Musk and Camphor, was Flour question


Kiri wrote:

<<< ...please remind me

what I could use in the place of the frequent references to camphor and

musk. In some places, the reference is to "aromatics" and the two are cited

as examples. There are a couple of really cool dessert dishes that I'd love

to use but acquiring either of these is a problem...not to mention that I

understand that the musk that's available is a chemical compound used in

perfumes and is poisonous! >>>


There are some vegetable musk substitutes that may be edible in small


ambrette seeds (Abelmoschus moschatus, related to hibiscus)

and labdanum (which comes fromrock rose / Cistus ladaniferus; no, this is NOT

laudanum :)

I cannot guarantee the safety of either as i have not done much research into

them. From what i can tell, the natural plants themselves are safe to consume in small quantities, but distillates from them used in perfumery are not


There is an edible form of camphor from the Borneo camphor (Dryobalanops

camphora, as distinct from Cinnamomum camphora) used by South Asians, frequently in sweets. I have not yet gone looking for it, but several listees have found it, including Mahdavi and Cariadoc, have found it in South Asian markets. In various Indian languages it is called Kacha Karpoor (Hindi) or Pacha Karpooram (Tamil) (also written pachai, paccha, pachha, and pachcha) or Cheen Karpooram (Telugu); the name means raw camphor.


It comes in small crystals looking somewhat like coarse salt and is derived by steam distillation from the leaves and wood of the Borneo camphor tree. Heres a photo:



And always specify edible, or the kind used in paan (betel leaf mix) because

nonedible, and downright poisonous, camphor smelling stuff is used for other

purposes. Definitely not blocks or tablets, nor so called medicinal (for

external use), nor puja (burned as an offering in religious ceremonies)


I tried to find it for sale on the internet, but could only find it on an

merchant website in India. I will definitely have to explore the many South

Asian markets near me.

-- Urtatim [that's err-tah-TEEM]

the persona formerly known as Anahita



Date: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 09:00:33 +1300

From: Antonia di Benedetto <dama.antonia at gmail.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Cooking with musk?


On 3/03/2015 6:08 a.m., James Prescott wrote:

<<< I have a friend who is interested in learning about how to cook with



- where does one buy it? >>>


I found this https://www.facebook.com/sibmusk

and this http://www.ebay.com/bhp/deer-musk


<<< - how much does one use? >>>


Presumably, the amount specified in the recipe :-)


<<< - is a 'grain', often mentioned in recipes, a small physical lump of

musk, or the actual unit of weight, the grain? >>>


Going by the very little information I found, it looks like a solid

substance, and a "grain" probably means something imprecise like a small



- any other advice from someone who has actually used it in food?


I haven't used it myself, but you can buy it as a food-grade essence

from Australia, where they also have musk sticks (a candy) and

musk-flavoured Lifesavers.



Antonia di Benedetto Calvo



Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2015 14:09:35 -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] Cooking with musk?


You probably won't find any natural musk as it requires killing a musk deer

and extracting the musk gland.  It has been replaced by synthetic muscone

for most purposes.


Usually when you say "grain" as a unit of measure you are referring to the

weight of a grain of wheat, or 64.8 milligrams modernly. In the case of

musk, a grain is a physical thing.  As the musk gland dries the material

inside turns granular producing "musk grain."





Date: Tue, 3 Mar 2015 13:00:32 -0800 (GMT-08:00)

From: <lilinah at earthlink.net>

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Cooking with musk?


Bear wrote:

<<< You probably won't find any natural musk as it requires killing a musk deer and extracting the musk gland. >>>


Actually that is not entirely the case. Musk can also be extracted by keeping male musk deer in captivity and irritating their glands so that they produce the musk which is then scraped off the rear of the deer. However, that is essentially torturing the poor little animals (they are rather tiny), so i'm not in favor of it. Any natural musk is going to cost a small fortune, if you can find it for various reasons.


Suey wrote:

<<< Are we talking about the plant or the deer? >>>


The musk used in medieval Arabic-language, Persian, and Ottoman recipes is from the animal.


In one book, maybe Marianna Yerasimos's "500 Years of Turkish Cuisine", the author, a 20th c. Turk, describes how she inherited a musk "pod" (a gland) from her grandmother and how she dipped a toothpick in it to flavor a dish. She said that teeny tiny amount was quite sufficient to flavor the dish.


Katharina of Drachenwald wrote:

<<< If it is *grains* in the recipe it may be the musk seed, stemming from a

plant from India (Abelmoschus moschatus), they meant. >>>


No, I'm pretty confident that musk grains are either the weight or a tiny bit of actual musk.


The plant is used as a substitute for actual musk in scented products, it wasn't used in medieval cooking in the Islamic world.


Rather than skip using musk in a sweets recipe from ibn Sayyar al-Warraq, i got a hold of Australian musk-flavored Life Savers, pounded a few into powder, and stirred them into the almond-sugar mixture. Besides the Life Savers and the "musk sticks", there's also musk-flavored chewing gum. Both the Life Savers and the sticks are rather Pepto-Bismol pink. Those wacky Australians ;-)


I will be bringing back a bottle of the liquid musk flavoring when i come back from Australia in April. It's synthetic, but at least it's food safe.




<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org