Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly 23 Sweet Sips and Potent Potables

This one is probably cheating because although it is a medieval recipe, it's one I've used for a few years now. I make it all the time now because it's that good. I don't bother buying sodas much anymore - I make this syrup called Sekanjibin and add it to some carbonated water (courtesy of my sodastream). The fun thing about Sekanjibin is you can flavor it however you please.

The Challenge: 23. Sweet Sips and Potent Potables April 5 - April 18
Whether it’s hard or soft, we all enjoy a refreshing beverage! Pick a historic beverage to recreate - remember to sip responsibly!

The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible)Sekanjubin Simple Take a ratl of strong vinegar and mix it with two ratls of sugar, and cook all this until it takes the form of a syrup. Drink an ûqiya of this with three of hot water when fasting: it is beneficial for fevers of jaundice, and calms jaundice and cuts the thirst, since sikanjabîn syrup is beneficial in phlegmatic fevers: make it with six ûqiyas of sour vinegar for a ratl of honey and it is admirable.
...[gap: top third of this page has been cut off]...
... and a ratl of sugar; cook all this until it takes the consistency of syrup. Its benefit is to relax the bowels and cut the thirst and vomiting, and it is beneficial in bilious fevers.

The Date/Year and Region:
13th Century, Andalusia (Southern Spain)

How Did You Make It: (a brief synopsis of the process of creation) First, I gathered my ingredients. Actually, I probably should point out that the above recipe is simply one of many for sekanjibin. According to this website it was first mentioned in the 10th century. I'm told there are other period recipes (in languages I don't even begin to know a word of) that allow for flavorings. Since ginger is a period correct spice, I've added ginger as my flavoring.

The above are my ingredients. Sugar, honey ginger infused balsamic vinegar, and ginger root. I also add water at the end. So my full redaction:

2 cups sugar
1 cup infused vinegar
1 piece of the root (about the size of my thumb) sliced into chunks
1/2 cup water

All you do is boil everything except the water together. I wait until the mixture "doubles" in size and then I take it away from the heat immediately. After stirring it a bit, I put it into the container shown below with the water. The reason for this is because it can be a very gooey syrup and you need it to be something that will easily mix without stirring in water. I then just shove it in the fridge and wait about a half hour before I can have a drink. Although in period you would mix it with water, I normally mix it with carbonated water. I only use a tablespoon or two of the syrup to flavor a large glass of water - put the syrup in first so that the water will easily mix it when poured.

Time to Complete:
15 minutes or so? Not long to have the mixture. It's waiting for it to cool down - an extra half hour- that really takes time.

Total Cost:
Because I love the infused vinegars, it brings up the price a lot. Sugar is maybe $1. Ginger was about the same if not less. The vinegar? $15 a bottle. You can use regular apple vinegar as well - but that tastes best if you mix it with some water that apples were recently boiled in.

How Successful Was It?: (How did it taste? How did it look? Did it turn out like you thought it would?) I can't get anyone else to try it! I've offered and no one else will try it. I love it though.

How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here) Although ginger isn't in the original recipe, it's a well known medieval spice so I don't think that's too much of a modification. I cooked it on my electric oven.


  1. That sounds delicious! It also almost sounds like an early form of ginger pop, if you were to use lemon juice instead of the vinegar, and add the carbonated water.

    1. Oh! I've got to try that! I bet the acid of the vinegar would work just as well but the citrusy taste would be very different. Thanks!