Showing posts from March, 2017

Brewing Zhang Bangji's 12th Century Recipe for Su Dongpo's Mead

In the hunt for Song dynasty poet Su Dongpo's mead recipe, we discovered last time that his recipe for "honey wine" is probably not using honey as a primary fermentable.

But we do have Zhang Bangji's report on Su Dongpo's recipe.  I have no idea whether it's really Su Dongpo's recipe, but at some point it doesn't matter.  They were contemporaries, and his recipe is just as reasonable and period as Su Dongpo's unknown recipe for mead.

I'm brewing a one gallon batch because I have my shiny new weng-simulant, a large-mouthed jar.  The local homebrew store had them, and I think they'll do well.  It comes with a lid with a hole for an airlock, but because it's got a mouth and isn't a bowl, fitting cloth over it should also be easy.  How much air to allow in is a battle for another day, so I'm going to go the modern route on this one and use an airlock.

This thing holds a gallon, so I'm going to scale the recipe to fit.  The orig…

Dairy Products

That dastardly cooks mailing list has got me translating food recipes again.

Qimin Yaoshu has a few recipes for three dairy products.  One, 酪 lào means something like "curdled milk" and is a variety of yogurt based on the recipe.  The next, 乾酪 gānlào "dry lao" is something we don't have a good western analogue for, but is basically dried milk skins.  Ever make pudding and peel off the dried skin?  Like that.  Finally, we have a recipe for what is probably butter, 酥 sū.

It's interesting that the dry lao doesn't add salt, like I would expect for something intended to keep.  It's also pretty funny how specific the author is about using dung as your fuel.  Which you should be sure to gather ahead of time!

These recipes are in the middle of the chapter on raising sheep.  The recipe for lao actually starts off with a page or so on how and when to milk your livestock - they weren't killing calves or lambs it seems, so the timing on when to milk so as t…