14 January 2010

A&S 50: Food item one: peach sharbat, or $20 sekanjabin

 I'm keeping this here, even though it is not my redaction. This is the first time I played with creating a drink syrup with fruit. It was a big step for me, though it may seem small to the onlooker. Urtatim is a fellow reenactor who is quite generous in sharing her knowledge about medieval Mediterranean and Middle Eastern things, including food.

I bought this copper kettle to use with my felting demos. It came with directions for how to make fruit jams, which I promptly discarded. After reading the recipe below, I was inspired. This is my first attempt to make a fruit based drink syrup. I used a redaction that was already available for this one.

From Urtatim:
The 16th century Ottomans made peach sharbat (beverage syrup drunk diluted with water). I'm not quite sure exactly how as there are no 16th c. recipes for it, it's just mentioned in the food lists for circumcision festivals for the sons of the sultan.

This recipe is based on a period Arabic quince sharbat recipe.

Laimun Safarjali
One part quince juice and three parts filtered syrup, in both of 
which you have boiled pieces of quince until nearly done. They are 
taken up, and the syrup takes it consistency. To every pound of the 
whole you add two ounces of lemon juice. Then return the pieces of 
quince; they improve the consistency. It is scented with musk, 
saffron and rose-water and taken up and used.

The Book of the Description of Familiar Foods, (p. 442-443, "Medieval 
Arab Cookery", trans. by Charles Perry)

Peach sharbat recipe
Should make around 2 quarts

2 to 3 dozen peaches
2-1/2 quarts (10 cups) water
5 pounds granulated white sugar
more sugar, if needed
several tsp. rosewater, optional

Wash and stone peaches and cut in four or more pieces depending on the size of your peaches, but no more than 8 pieces. Put fruit in a deep kettle, cover with water, turn fire to high, and pour in 5 lb. sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. When liquid begins to boil, reduce fire to medium and simmer, stirring frequently so bottom of pan doesn't burn. Do NOT mash the fruit. Remove from heat when liquid has thickened. This may take up to an hour or more depending on how much syrup you make.

Allow syrup to cool enough to handle. Put a strainer or colander over a deep bowl, and pour into it fruit and liquid. Allow to strain without mashing or pressing fruit. Remove resulting liquid to another large container. After you've drained the peaches well, and syrup has cooled, check the consistency and flavor of the syrup. It should be somewhat thickish and syrupy and have a peachy flavor. It doesn't need to be clear. The original recipes (for quince syrup) recommends having some fruity bits in it, so at this point you can add some of the cooked peaches mashed.

If syrup isn't sweet enough, put in kettle on high fire, add more sugar, stir well, bring to boil, then reduce to high simmer, and cook down a little more. When syrup is thoroughly cooled, sir in some rose water, if you like, and mix well. To drink, fill a pitcher about 2/3 full of water and add some syrup. Taste. Add more syrup and/or water until you are satisfied with the flavor.

-- Urtatim

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