Angelica Water the Greater Composition

This ypocras was made in 2009 and Lady Sylvia took it to the InterKingdom Brewer’s Guild where it was judged as a cordial, as I had not pitched the wine. It received a score of 94, which was an unexpected delight for my first entry to be judged!

“It comforts the heart, cherishes the vital spirits, resists the pestilence, and all corrupt airs, which indeed are the natural causes of epidemical diseases, the sick may take a spoonful of it in any convenient cordial, and such as are in health, and have bodies either cold by nature, or cooled by age, may take as much either in the morning fasting, or a little before meat.”
Nicolas Culpeper

Prepared by Aneleda Falconbridge

From Nicolas Culpeper in “Compounds, Spirit and Compound Distilled Waters” in his Complete Herbal(1653), which I discovered at

Angelica water the greater composition

College : Take of Angelica two pounds, Annis seed half a pound, Coriander and Caraway seeds, of each four ounces, Zedoary bruised, three ounces: steep them twenty four hours in six gallons of small wine, then draw out the spirit, and sweeten it with sugar.

Culpeper : It comforts the heart, cherishes the vital spirits, resists the pestilence, and all corrupt airs, which indeed are the natural causes of epidemical diseases, the sick may take a spoonful of it in any convenient cordial, and such as are in health, and have bodies either cold by nature, or cooled by age, may take as much either in the morning fasting, or a little before meat.

Initial redaction:

I wasn’t going to make six gallons of this medicinal ypocras, so I scaled everything.

large quantity of Angeilca
quarter of that of Annis seed
4 ounce of coriander and caraway seeds
3 oz zedoary (or ginger, which I used)

Angelica, while a common garden plant in Culpeper’s time, is harder to get now.  However, a farmers’ market vendor brought three bouquets of leaves and stems for me picked fresh that morning.  I discarded the leaves and used the stems alone.  Likely the quantity was somewhere in the range of half-a-pound of stem.

One hunk of fresh ginger,  about the length of two fingers, coarsely chopped.

Two and a half  cups of white sugar in total.

Two heaping tablespoons of coriander and caraway seed.

Annis seed, roughly one-third cup.

The wine base is a chablis, five liters.


pour wine into large container
cut and wash Angelica stems
roughly chop ginger
add angelica, seeds, and ginger.

I let it sit, as the recipe tells, for a day and night.  I added a cup of sugar and tasted, deciding to allow it to sit longer.  In all it sat two days, loosely covered.  On the second day I strained out the seeds and stems, and added another loose cup of sugar. After tasting, I added another rough half cup of sugar.

The mix was strained though unbleached coffee filters and then bottled, corked and sealed with wax.

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About Culpeper:

Nicholas Culpeper (18 October 1616 – 10 January 1654) was an English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer. His published books, The English Physitian (1652) and the Complete Herbal (1653), contain a rich store of pharmaceutical and herbal knowledge.

Culpeper spent the greater part of his life in the English outdoors cataloguing hundreds of medicinal herbs. He criticized what he considered the unnatural methods of his contemporaries, writing: “This not being pleasing, and less profitable to me, I consulted with my two brothers, DR. REASON and DR. EXPERIENCE, and took a voyage to visit my mother NATURE, by whose advice, together with the help of Dr. DILIGENCE, I at last obtained my desire; and, being warned by MR. HONESTY, a stranger in our days, to publish it to the world, I have done it.”[1]


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On the ingredients, from Culpeper:


To write a description of that which is so well known to be growing almost in every garden, I suppose is altogether needless; yet for its virtue it is of admirable

In time of Heathenism, when men had found out any excellent herb, they dedicated it to their gods; as the bay-tree to Apollo, the Oak to Jupiter, the Vine to Bacchus, the Poplar to Hercules. These the idolators following as the Patriarchs they dedicate to their Saints; as our Lady’s Thistle to the Blessed Virgin, St. John’s Wort to St. John and another Wort to St. Peter, &c. Our physicians must imitate like apes (though they cannot come off half so cleverly) for they blasphemously call Phansies or Heartsease, an herb of the Trinity, because it is of three colours; and a certain ointment, an ointment of the Apostles, because it consists of twelve ingredients. Alas I am sorry for their folly, and grieved at their blasphemy. God send them wisdom the rest of their age, for they have their share of ignorance already. Oh! Why must ours be blasphemous, because the Heathens and infidels were idolatrous? Certainly they have read so much in old rusty authors, that they have lost all their divinity; for unless it were amongst the Ranters, I never read or heard of such blasphemy. The Heathens and infidels were bad, and ours worse; the idolators give idolatrous names to herbs for their virtues sake, not for their fair looks; and therefore some called this an herb of the Holy Ghost; others, more moderate, called it Angelica, because of its angelical virtues, and that name it retains still, and all nations follow it so near as their dialect will permit.

Government and virtues : It is an herb of the Sun in Leo; let it be gathered when he is there, the Moon applying to his good aspect; let it be gathered either in his hour, or in the hour of Jupiter, let Sol be angular; observe the like in gathering the herbs, of other planets, and you may happen to do wonders. In all epidemical diseases caused by Saturn, that is as good a preservative as grows: It resists poison, by defending and comforting the heart, blood, and spirits; it doth the like against the plague and all epidemical diseases, if the root be taken in powder to the weight of half a dram at a time, with some good treacle in Carduus water, and the party thereupon laid to sweat in his bed; if treacle be not to be had take it alone in Carduus or Angelica-water. The stalks or roots candied and eaten fasting, are good preservatives in time of infection; and at other times to warm and comfort a cold stomach. The root also steeped in vinegar, and a little of that vinegar taken sometimes fasting, and the root smelled unto, is good for the same purpose. A water distilled from the root simply, as steeped in wine, and distilled in a glass, is much more effectual than the water of the leaves; and this water, drank two or three spoonfuls at a time, easeth all pains and torments coming of cold and wind, so that the body be not bound; and taken with some of the root in powder at the beginning, helpeth the pleurisy, as also all other diseases of the lungs and breast, as coughs, phthysic, and shortness of breath; and a syrup of the stalks do the like. It helps pains of the cholic, the stranguary and stoppage of the urine, procureth womens’ courses, and expelleth the afterbirth, openeth the stoppings of the liver and spleen, and briefly easeth and discusseth all windiness and inward swellings. The decoction drank before the fit of an ague, that they may sweat (if possible) before the fit comes, will, in two or three times taking, rid it quite away; it helps digestion and is a remedy for a surfeit. The juice or the water, being dropped into the eyes or ears, helps dimness of sight and deafness; the juice put into the hollow teeth, easeth their pains. The root in powder, made up into a plaster with a little pitch, and laid on the biting of mad dogs, or any other venomous creature, doth wonderfully help. The juice or the waters dropped, or tent wet therein, and put into filthy dead ulcers, or the powder of the root (in want of either) doth cleanse and cause them to heal quickly, by covering the naked bones with flesh; the distilled water applied to places pained with the gout, or sciatica, doth give a great deal of ease.

The wild Angelica is not so effectual as the garden; although it may be safely used to all the purposes aforesaid.

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It is on account of the seeds principally that the Carraway is cultivated.

Descript : It bears divers stalks of fine cut leaves, lying upon the ground, somewhat like to the leaves of carrots, but not bushing so thick, of a little quick taste in them, from among which rises up a square stalk, not so high as the Carrot, at whose joints are set the like leaves, but smaller and finer, and at the top small open tufts, or umbels of white flowers, which turn into small blackish seed, smaller than the Aniseed, and of a quicker and hotter taste. The root is whitish, small and long, somewhat like unto a parsnip, but with more wrinkled bark, and much less, of a little hot and quick taste, and stronger than the parsnip and abides after seed-time.

Place : It is usually sown with us in gardens.

Time : They flower in June and July, and seed quickly after.

Government and virtues : This is also a Mercurial plant. Carraway seed has a moderate sharp quality, whereby it breaks wind and provokes urine, which also the herb doth. The root is better food than the parsnip; it is pleasant and comfortable to the stomach, and helps digestion. The seed is conducing to all cold griefs of the head and stomach, bowels, or mother, as also the wind in them, and helps to sharpen the eye-sight. The powder of the seed put into a poultice, takes away black and blue spots of blows and bruises. The herb itself, or with some of the seed bruised and fried, laid hot in a bag or double cloth, to the lower parts of the belly, eases the pains of the wind cholic.

The roots of Carraway eaten as men do parsnips, strengthen the stomach of ancient people exceedingly, and they need not to make a whole meal of them neither, and are fit to be planted in every garden.

Carraway comfits, once only dipped in sugar, and half a spoonful of them eaten in the morning fasting, and as many after each meal, is a most admirable remedy, for those that are troubled with wind.

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Coriander seed, hot and dry, expels wind, but is hurtful to the head; sends up unwholesome vapours to the brain, dangerous for mad people.

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Annis seeds, heat and dry, ease pain, expel wind, cause a sweet breath, help the dropsy, resist poison, breed milk, and stop the Fluor Albus in women, provoke venery, and ease the head-ache.

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Sugar is held to be hot in the first degree, strengthens the lungs, takes away the roughness of the throat, succours the reins and bladder.

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(In this recipe, Zedoary was substituted by Ginger, but here is information about the original spice.)

Zedoary is an ancient spice, a close relative to turmeric and native to India and Indonesia. The Arabs introduced it to Europe in the sixth century, where it enjoyed great popularity in the middle ages. Today it is extremely rare in the West, having been replaced by ginger. It is a substitute for arrowroot and used in Indian perfumes and in festive rituals.

Spice Description
Zedoary is a rhizome with a thin brown skin and a bright orange, hard interior. It’s smell is similar to turmeric and mango. Because of the mango-like fragrance, zedoary is called amb halad in many Indian languages (amb means mango). It is sold as a powder (kentjur in Chinese shops), or dried and sliced with a gray surface with a yellow to gray-white interior. There are two types of zedoary sold in Indian markets – Curcuma zedoaria or ‘round’ which is small and fat like ginger, and Curcuma zerumbet, or ‘long’ which is long and slender like turmeric.
Bouquet: musky a gingerlike with camphorous undertones
Flavour: warm and ginger-like, slightly camphorous, with a bitter aftertaste.
Hotness Scale: 4

Preparation and Storage
Dried zedoary is ground to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Store in airtight containers..

Culinary Uses
In the Indian kitchen zedoary is usually used fresh or pickled. It is used as a dried spice more in Indonesia where it is often used as an ingredient in curry powder, especially for seafood dishes. It may be pounded with turmeric or ginger to make a spice paste for lamb or chicken curries.

Attributed Medicinal Properties
Zedoary is valued for its ability to purify the blood. It is an antiseptic and a paste applied locally to cuts and wounds helps healing. It is used as an aid to digestion and to relieve flatulence and colic. The starch, shoti, is easily digested and nutritious so is widely used as part of an Eastern regimen for the sick or for the very young.

Plant Description and Cultivation
Zedoary grows in tropical and subtropical wet forest regions. It is a rhizome, or underground stem, like turmeric and ginger. The rhizome is large and tuberous with many branches. The leaf shoots are long and fragrant, reaching 1m (3ft) in height. The plant bears yellow flowers with red and green bracts. Pieces of the rhizome are planted, taking two years to mature before it can be harvested.


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This was paneled in March 2012 at Brew U in Malaweardia and received a score of 65.