Almond milk from Anna Wecker

This is easily the most detailed recipe for making almond milk I have seen in any period source, so I think this is a good day to put it out here. Anna Wecker is my next full length translation project, and it will most likely be turned into an actual book.

Make almond milk thus

For a Maß (Nuremberg measure 1.084 litres) of almond milk, take a vierling (quarter of a pound – Nuremberg measure 127 grammes), or if you like to have it strong, one and a half, of good sweet fresh almonds. Lay them in hot water, and as soon as they can be peeled, take off their skins and throw them in fresh well water. Let them lie for a while, then wash them cleanly.

Pound or stamp them in a stone mortar with a wooden pestle as small as possible. In many places, people have stones on which they grind them, that is well where they are, but if you don’t have one, help yourself as you can. But you must never pound them with an iron pestle, for then they will not only turn black, but also become bitter.

While pounding them, sprinkle them several times with rosewater or other (flower-)water because you intend to press them out. Otherwise they become oily and black. But do not use too much because if they become too wet, they can no longer be pounded small. They (the waters) must be clear and gentle, otherwise it is not only useless, but they do not lend their powers as they should.

If you wish to use it for cooking, take good fresh well water or milk as it comes from the cow, grind the almonds slowly (with that) in a mortar. Then place a clean white cloth in a bowl, pour the almonds into that, rub it back and forth a little with a spoon, take up the cloth and wring it out as hard as you can.

But if you want it for a sick person, be it for cooking or drinking, boil (the) water beforehand in a new, well-glazed cookpot (that is) carefully closed. Afterwards, bind good coarse-ground wheat bran or, as it is called in some places, grieß (in modern German this means semolina), or a piece of white bread, or raisins, or maybe also a handful or half of a handful of unpounded barley in a clean white cloth and boil it together with the water for greater strengthening (to make it more invigorating). When the water has boiled enough, add a quintlein (Nuremberg measure 3.98 grammes) of cinnamon, more or less, depending on whether you like to have it strong, break it into small pieces and add it to the boil(ing water) while it still bubbles. Then take it off the fire and let it cool down covered. Then use it.

But if you want a costive effect (German verb: stopffen) as with diarrhea (and) fluxes from a weak stomach, add more cinnamon. Also add red rose petals and dry quinces in that case, or what remains in the cloth of pressed quinces when one makes quince juice, dried, serves well.

Sometimes necessity requires that these waters be strengthened with gold or steel.

For ailments of the chest (Brustsuchten), boil anise, fennel, raisins, figs, liquorice root, jujubes and such things. For drinking, mix violet syrup, rose honey, or sugar candy into it. For a weak stomach, adding raisin juice or quince juice is very good. And if you want it to be laxative, do not moisten (the almonds) while pounding them. Then the oilier the better.

You also sometimes, when there is great heat (as in high fevers, pestilence and consumption), pound the seeds of melons, cucumbers or pumpkins, white poppyseeds and lettuce seeds that bring sleep with the almonds. Sometimes ground pearls or good gold leaf. For winds, especially for young children, and to those suffering from lung disease and consumption, goat milk serves well instead of water, be it for drinking or for cooking.

When you have prepared the almond milk thus, pour it into a clean metal (kanden) or stone(ware) (krug) pitcher that is allowed to drip off well after washing so that no water remains in it. Store it in a cool place, and when you want to use some of it, first pour it into a clean drinking cup or glass and back (into the pitcher) once or three times, because it separates as other milk does and in the end there is nothing (left) but water. Also, you should not pour back what remains (in the cup) after drinking, that will immediately make it go sour and curdle.

And if you take proper care you will know in all illnesses as you follow written cooking recipes (geschriebenen gekoechten), whether you are cooking with water or milk, that you should first prepare this (the alterations) of those (liquids).

You may also give almond milk as a drink to a woman in childbed who is weak and does not wish to eat, gives poor milk, and has her time (menses) too much or too little. And to children who are accustomed to water, it can be given made with fresh well water and strongly sugared. This serves well with (diseases of) great heat.

And though in many illnesses, people eschew almond milk and what is cooked with it due to its costive effect, it is nonetheless greatly useful for weak people. But to each according to his needs. That is why I am telling you how to prepare almond milk at the beginning of the book, as a guide in all things.

In 1598, Anna Wecker, the widow of a respected physician, published her Köstlich New Kochbuch. It mostly deals with invalid cookery, but also includes many recipes found in other cookbooks of the time. Its particular strength lies in the detailed description of cooking techniques it occasionally gives. The first such work known to be authored by a woman, it would become a bestseller and remain in print for a century

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