Blackberry Pear Cordial

This cordial was submitted to the InterKingdom Brewer’s Guild at Pennsic in 2010 where it received a score of 96.

Chief among its criticisms were that the pear overwhelmed the blackberry, which was only a small, light note at the end.  It was not a cloying thing, but quite light. The pear was hellish to clarify, and eventually I settled for just siphoning carefully.  I had a good amount lost because of the pear mung, which hung on the bottom of the bottle like some galactic nebula.  All in all, it was a really nice little thing though.

Blackberry Pear Cordial
1 handful blackberries (aprox. 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
4 pears, sliced with cores discarded
750 ml brandy
250 ml simple syrup (2 c. white granulated sugar to 1 c. water, boiled until clear)

I took the berries, which had been frozen, placed them and the four pears in a wide-mouthed
jar, adding 750 ml of brandy. Later in the day I added the cooled symple syrup. I lightly swirled
the bottle every couple of days. It sat on a shelf for about three weeks, before attempting to

Straining was an utter disaster. The regular strainer took the berries and large chunks, but
there was excessive sediment. I poured the mix through coffee filters, but there was still so
much sediment that it was terrible to behold.

In frustration, I left it in a corner of the kitchen counter for about 18 weeks. When I saw that
the mung had settled, I siphoned what I could from the batch. The result was four small bottles
of this blackberry pear cordial, and one slightly larger bottle of cloudlike mung.

In the future, I would put the pears in cheesecloth or something to start with perhaps. Or get
a chemical-grade filter. Or just make a larger batch knowing I will have to siphon it to clear.

I made strawberry cordial last year, and found it pleasant. It was based on the recipe ‘Cordial
of Divers Berries,’ based on 1655 (?) recipe of ‘A cordial water of Sir Walter Raleigh’ (the latter
shown on reverse). However, I am not partial to strawberries, especially. I am however excessively
pleased with blackberries, so I used commercially frozen blackberries (which always tasted
like good blackberries to me, flavorful) and then decided that the bosc pears I had worked
nicely boiled in wine, so why not toss them into the cordial. I’ve seen other parings of blackberry
and pair in deserts, so it seemed like a good idea.

The recipe was rougly inspired by the basic cordials in ‘A Queen’s Delight’ (see the pdf documentation)
and these recipes below.

Pear Cordial
Cut unpeeled pears in quarters, and add them to a large glass
jar. Fill the the jar with brandy, to cover the fruit. Make sure
it’s completely covered.- no pieces floating on top.
Allow it to macerate (sit) for two weeks, shaking it up each
day. Press in usual manner then sweeten if desired with a
simple syrup or jazz it up with a vanilla or ginger syrup.
Syrup is 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. For vanilla syrup add
one split vanilla bean to syrup as you make it. For ginger
syrup, add sliced, peeled fresh ginger to taste. depending on
how hot you like it, anywhere from a two inch piece sliced to
up to a cup. Your choice.
Simmer/boil for 15 minutes or so til it thickens up, let it cool
with the vanilla or ginger in it, then strain and add it to the
pear brandy. Decant to smaller bottles.
I’m so making this! DF always has the best recipes for
yummy drinks.

Lady Aneleda Falconbridge
Shire of Endewearde
mka Monique Bouchard
Pear Cordial
Gode Cookery
PERIOD: Modern | SOURCE: Contemporary Recipe |
CLASS: Not Authentic
DESCRIPTION: A cordial of pears and spices
3 fresh pears (or 6 dried pears)
2 cups sugar, dissolved in 1/2 cup water
1 orange
3 whole cloves
1/2 tsp. whole coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 whole peppercorn
2 cups 80-proof vodka
Remove seeds and dice pears. Put in a glass jar along with
spices and peel from 1 orange (avoid the white pith). Add
vodka, cover, and leave for 2 weeks. Strain through cheese
cloth and add sugar solution. Leave until clear.


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]


* * *

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.

* * *


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.

* * *

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

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *
(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.


* * *

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

To make shell bread, or the Italian Mussel Bread

shell bread cooked for GNE A&S

A Redaction and Tale of Cooking by Aneleda Falconbridge

shell bread cooked for GNE A&S
The three redactions of shell bread cooked for A&S at the Great Northeastern War.

This light, sweet cooky bread is very similar to the recipe used for Springerle or Lebkuchen in taste – an anise and lemon flavor, mild and pleasant.

It took several tries to get the cookies correct – the recipe being somewhat vague.  The very first ones I made were flourless (hey, who knows, I’ve had flourless baked goods!)  That made a sticky (albeit tasty) mess which was impossible to clean!  It stuck amazingly to everything it baked to.  It was like a flavored sugar-yolk glue.

The next attempts were too light in flour, and stuck in the shells, though I think that had they been actual shallow mussel shells (rather than the scallops I used), they would have been more successful.

Ultimately, those which are cooked slightly less than a modern cooky – with bubbles showing in the tops – have a better taste than those cooked longer.  I made some in actual mussel shells to prove the concept (works better with modern Pam and flour than butter spread as “light as a feather”) and then made the rest in silicone baking shells, or in Madeline shells.  I also made a sheet cooky variation which resulted in a lovely crispy cooky (though the edges burned terribly.)  I totally forgot the rosewater, when I made them but used rose syrup to make the icing which beefs up the rose taste a little.  I think they’d be quite strange to the modern palate cooked with the rosewater included…

A simple variation on this recipe would make very good tasting biscotti.

Additionally, this recipe, like many period recipes I’ve found of interest, calls for “muske” which is, I’m certain, the musk which we think of as perfume. I can’t find a food-grade musk source, and nor one for ambrette, the seed which is used in modern perfumery to imitate musk.  At some point I hope to gutsily ask someone during hunting season for the musk glands of their deer, though what to do with them I’ve no idea.  Ah well, that is for a later time!

* * *      * * *       * * *      * * *      * * *      * * *

Original Recipe
SOURCE: A Daily Exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen, 1617
PERIOD: England, 17th century |
A Boke of Gode Cookery 17th Century English Recipes © 1997 – 2003 James L. Matterer
DESCRIPTION: Small breads or cakes baked in shells

To make shell bread.

Beate a quarter of a pound of double refined Sugar, cearse it with two or three spoonefulls of the finest, the youlkes of three new laid egs, and the white of one, beate all this together in with two or three spoonefulls of sweete creame, a graine of muske, a thimble full of the powder of a dried Lemond, and a little Annise-seede beaten and cearsed, and a little Rose-water, then baste Muskle-shells with sweete butter, as thinne as you can lay it on with a feather, fill your shells with the batter and lay them on a gridiron or a lattise of wickers into the ouen, and bake them, and take them out of the shells, and ise them with Rose-water & Sugar. It is a delicate bread, some call it the Italian Mushle, if you keepe them any long time, then alwaies in wet weather put them in your ouen.

Gode Cookery translation: Beat a quarter of a pound of double refined sugar, sieve it with two or three spoonfuls of the finest, the yolks of three newly laid eggs, and the white of one, beat all this together in with two or three spoonfuls of sweet cream, a grain of musk, a thimble full of the powder of a dried lemon, and a little anise seed beaten & sieved, and a little rosewater, then baste mussel shells with sweet butter, as thin as you can lay it on with a feather, fill your shells with the batter and lay them on a grid iron or a lattice of wicker into the oven, and bake them, and take them out of the shells, and ice them with rosewater and sugar. It is a delicate bread, some call it the Italian Mussel, if you keep them any long time, then always in wet weather put them in your oven.

Shell Bread Redactions
My Own Redaction (1 of 3)

1/4 lb sugar mix* (1/2 cup)
3 spoonfuls (mixing spoon size) white or wheat flour
3 spoonfuls (mixing spoon size) unsalted sweet butter (or clotted cream)
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 tsp lemon zest dried
1/4 tsp anise seed, powdered

put into buttered shells
bake and ice with sugared rosewater icing

My Own Redaction (2 of 3)

1/4 lb sugar mix* (1/2 cup)
1 white or wheat flour
2/3 stick butter
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 tsp lemon zest  – fresh
1/4 tsp anise seed, powdered

put into buttered shells
bake and ice with sugared rosewater icing

My Own Redaction (3 of 3)
“The Heck With It” Variation

1  lb sugar mix* (1/2 cup)
add flour until a touch firmer than cake batter consitancy
2 1/3 stick butter
7 whole eggs
zest of 1 lemon
about 1/3 oz anise seed, powdered but not much

put into buttered shells
bake and ice with sugared rosewater icing

a note on sugar
“…aside from the color difference, the texture and taste are similar to what was expected.  The sugar is sweet, with a dark molasses flavor.  There exist additional medieval processes to further clarify the sugar.  These processes may remove some of the color and molasses flavor from the sugar; however, it was not possible to explore these processes at this time. (it is like)…sugar in the raw but with a more molasses taste.  1 part light molasses to 15 parts sugar in the raw or 8 parts white sugar and 1 part molasses.”

a note on musk
one could substitute, if one could get it, the seed Musk Ambrette: The oil obtained from these seeds has a musk-like odor and is frequently used as a substitute for true musk. ( HYPERLINK “”  I wasn’t able to locate a purcasing source, but would like to try it someday.

Another similar recipe in period

Bartolomeo Scappi’s work dating from the 1500’s
…But Scappi did not forget the desserts, offering the recipe for ‘morselletti’.
“To make morselletti, that is Milanese ‘mostaccioli’ (cakes made with cornmeal and sweet wine). Take fifteen fresh eggs and beat them in a casserole dish and pass them through a sieve with two and a half pounds of fine powdered sugar and half an ounce of raw anise seeds, and one or two grains of fine musk from a musk deer (= an animal which lives in central Asia). Mix this with two and a half pounds of flour, and beat all of this together for three quarters of an hour and beat it again. Prepare in advance sheets of paper in the form of lanterns or cake pans with high sides, with wafers inside without wetting them with anything. Put the batter in these lanterns or cake pans not more than one fingers-width full and immediately sprinkle them with sugar and place them in a hot oven. When the batter is flat and has lost its moisture and is solid, that is when it is like a ‘focaccia’, remove the cake pan or lantern and cut it immediately into slices two fingers-width wide and as long as desired. Put them back in the oven to toast, turning them often. Make sure the oven isn’t as hot as during the first phase and when they are well-dried remove them from the oven and put them aside since they are always better the second day than the first day and they last one month in their perfection.”