Monday, September 5, 2011

Lingonberry syrup part I: recipe from 1873

My favorite cook book is a worn little thing, published in 1873: Husmanskost. En hjälpreda för sparsamma husmödrar. ( which means approximately "Homely cooking for frugal housewives.") I got it from an antiquarian bookshop a couple of years ago, and immediately fell in love with it. One of the recipes that I've been longing to try out is called Lingonvatten med honung - "lingonberry syrup with honey". 

Since my mother was kind enough to give me some lingonberries this weekend I could finally give it a go. The original recipe, translated to English (my translation) and with modern measurements, reads like this: 

Lingonberry syrup
Ripe lingonberries are rinsed in water, carefully as not to break them (remove those that float with a perforated spoon), and let drain off on a clean towel. A copper cauldron is put on the fire with 15,6 l of water, dip a wooden stick in it and make a mark at the surface, then add another 15,6 l of water and 5,1 kg of brown sugar, and let it boil (removing the foam) until only 15,6 l remain as is shown by the stick. This sugar water is then poured into stone jars to cool down. The next day 15,6 l of the lingonberries are placed ín a well-flavored barrel , onto which the sugar water is poured, a bunghole is put in place and the barrel put in a room where it will be stirred every day. After 14 days 26 grams of cinnamon, 3, 25 grams of crushed and rinsed cardamoms, a piece of "violrot" (I couldn't find the English translation of this!), 33 cl of frensh wine is also added, the bunghole is once again fastened and the barrel put in a cellar. When it has rested for 6 weeks, the syrup is strained and poured into bottles, sealed with resin and stored in the cellar. At summertime this syrup is used to mix with drinking water.

Lingonberry syrup with honey
Treat the lingonberries as described above. 31,2 l of water is boiled in a clean copper cauldron. 3,9 l of honey and 0,65 l of water is boiled separately in a clean kettle, taken off the fire and foam removed,  put back on the fire, taken off and foam removed, after which it is poured into the boiling water in the copper cauldron, but be careful not to let it spill over since the honey rises a lot. It is now boiled down 10,4 l, then the cauldron is taken off the fire, the syrup poured into stone jars which will rest until the next day. 15,6 l of lingonberries is then added to a barrel, the honey water is poured cold over them, after which they will be treated as described in the previous recipe.

So yesterday I prepared the sugar water and mixed it with the boiled honey, and today I added this mixture to the lingonberries. There is just one thing that I'm worried about... You see where it says to remove all the berries that float? Well... as I placed the berries in water about half of them float. Yup, half. And since I was already making a rather small batch (about one fourth of the original recipe) I didn't want to remove that much! The berries that float weren't bad in any way, they looked ok but I guess they weren't as ripe as those that sank to the bottom. So in other words, if the end result isn't good I have something to blame it on. That, or the fact that I didn't have a copper cauldron or stone jars, or even a wooden barrel (I had to make due with stainless steel and plastic...).

Next, I will have to stir the mixture every day for two weeks. I really really really hope that it wont get moldy... I'll keep you posted! 

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