Tagged ‘strawberry’

Bears, Hives and other strawberry dangers

June 30th, 2013 by KM Wall

Strawberries and bears? No, not a menu suggestion,  it’s a timing thing.

For the bears, they be common, being a great black kind of bear which be most fierce at strawberry time, at  which time they have young ones.

1634. William Wood. New Englands Prospect. p. 42.

Strawberry time is a phrase we should bring back.

Black bear

Black bear

Black bear that is brown - a cinnamon black bear

Black bear that is brown – a cinnamon black bear







Then there’s  hives. I know, you see the bears, and hear about hives and your thinking bees….

Bruegel The Beekeepers and the Bird Nester - 1568

Bruegel The Beekeepers and the Bird Nester – 1568

But I’m taking a moment to talk about the itchy, nasty on your skin, allergenic reaction  hives.  to quote Wikepedia

Some people experience an anaphylactoid reaction to the consumption of strawberries.[45] The most common form of this reaction is oral allergy syndrome, but symptoms may also mimic hay fever or include dermatitis or hives, and, in severe cases, may cause breathing problems. Some research suggests that the allergen may be tied to a protein involved in the ripening of fruits, which was named Fra a1 (Fragaria allergen1). Homologous proteins are found in birch and apple, which suggests that people may develop cross-reactivity to all three species.

White-fruited strawberry cultivars, lacking Fra a1, may be an option for strawberry allergy sufferers. Since they lack a protein necessary for normal ripening, they do not produce the flavonoids that turn the mature berries of other cultivars red.

If you get a little rash or hives with strawberries (like I do) please note – the next step up is NOT BREATHING. That’s anaphlactoid reaction in layman’s terms. If you allerigic to the berries, you may also have an allergic reaction to the fresh leaves (the flavonoid somehow dissipates when the the leaves are dried). Do not use fresh strawberry leaves if you’re allergic to strawberries.

But if you’re not allergic, then by all means enjoy. And when you’re done have your own little Strawberry Thanksgiving. As no doubt they did in Massachusetts Bay Colony when the Arabella arrived.

John Wintrop

John Wintrop

On June 12, 1630, John Winthrop wrote:

“We supped with a good venison pasty and good beer and at night we returned to our ship but some of the women stayed behind. In the meantime most of our people went on shore, which lay very near us, and gathered stores of fine strawberries.”



Adrian Coorte - clay pot with strawberries

Adrian Coorte – clay pot with strawberries

Strawbeery and other libations

June 29th, 2013 by KM Wall



An abbey cellarer testing his wine. Illumination from a copy of Li livres dou santé by Aldobrandino of Siena. British Library manuscript Sloane 2435, f. 44v.

Assorted strawberry drinks of the 17th century in the Oxford English Dictionary:

1523 in W. H. Turner Select. Rec. Oxford (1880) 49 For strawbery ale and a posset iiijd.

1621 BURTON Anat. Mel. II. v. I. vi. (1624) 327 Strawbury water.

1669 Sir K. Digby’s Closet opened 127 Strawberry Wine.

  1. Strawberry ale  -why don’t they call it strawbeery? There are several on the market even now. Even Bud’s got an entry in this show.
  2. Strawberry water is a distilled water….that could be quite nice as a flavoring for all sorts of things.
  3. Strawberry wine: whenever I hear that combination, I think Ripple.  Be grateful if you don’t understand the reference. It makes boxed wine seem upscale.
  4. Strawberry wine is also “Song lyrics for 400, Alex”
  5. You come on like a dream, peaches and cream,
    Lips like strawberry wine.
    You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful and you’re mine  – Thank you, Ringo. And then there’s
  6. It’s funny how those memories they last
    Like strawberry wine and seventeen
    The hot July moon saw everything
    My first taste of love oh bittersweet
    Green on the vine
    Like strawberry wine – Thank you, Deana Carter and several others.
  7. and the there’s : You’ve got legs just like a longneck bottle
    And lips just like strawberry wine
    You might be a lifetime of trouble
    Still I can’t get you out of my mind – Thank you, Vince Gill.

A matron shows how to treat wine and conserve it properly. British Library, London.

Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, in A Garden of Herbs (published first in 1936 and reprinted by Dover in in 1969) includes a cordial water of Sir Walter Raleigh in the strawberry section. It comes from A Queens Delight, which is the second volume of  W. M.’s  The Compleat Cook, of 1655.

A Cordial Water of Sir Walter Raleigh.

Take a gallon of  Strawberries, and put them into a pint of Aqua vitae, let them stand so four or five days, strain them gently out, and sweeten the water as you please with fine Sugar; or else with perfume.

.1655. W. M.  A Queens Delight. Of Conserves, and Preserves, Candying, and Distillnig Waters.p. 80.

staved tankard from the Mary Rose - good for beer, wine, water, Strawberry or otherwise

staved tankard from the Mary Rose – good for beer, wine, water, Strawberry or otherwise

Smoared Hare

June 28th, 2013 by KM Wall

Smoared? As in a toasted marshmallow, Hersey bar and Graham cracker S’mored?

Microwave S'more

Microwave S’more

What do s’mores have to do with the 17th century or strawberries?

Nothing. In the 17th century marshmallow is a plant, and neither Hersey nor Graham have been born; hence no bar, no cracker.

Marshmallow plant

Marshmallow plant

Smoring is a cooking technique, one still alive in the American South, as well in other regions.  Smooring is another way to say smothered. Maya Angelou has a recipe that Oprah calls “suffocated chicken”.  What it really is is a very special cross between a stew and a braise.

And delicious, very very tasty good.

A Mallard smoard, or a Hare, or old Cony.

Take a Mallard when it is cleane dressed, washed and trust, and parboyle it in water till it be skumd and purified; then take it up, and put it into a Pipkin with the neck down-ward, and the tayle upward, standing as it were upright;[note: if the neck is pointing down and the tail pointing up, this is not a standing mallard, but a feeding one.]  then fill the Pipkin halfe full with that water, in which the Mallard parboyled, and fill up the other halfe with White Wine;[that is . parboil the dear thing a little longer, then top it off with white wine and keep cooking] then pill and slice thin a good quantitie of Onyons, [that is. peel and slice those onions, thinly] and put them in with whole fine Hearbs, according to the time of the yeare, as Lettice, Strawberry leaves, Violet leaves, Vines leaves, Spinage, Endive, Succorie, and such like, which have no bitter or hard taste, [leafy green additions ; you're looking for a fresh taste. Notice the strawberry LEAVES]-  and a pretty quantitie of Currants and dates sliced; then cover it close, and set it on a gentle fire, and let it stew, and smoare [to smother, to cook in a closed vessel] till the Hearbs and Onyons be soft, and the Mallard enough; then take out the Mallard, and carve it as it were to goe to the Table; then to the Broath put a good lumpe of Butter, Sugar, Cianmon; and if it be in some, so many Goose-berries as will give it a sharpe taste, but in the Winter as much Wine Vinegar; then heate it on the fire, and stirre all well together; then lay the Mallard in a dish with Sippets, and powre all this broth upon it; then trim the Egges of the dish with Sugar, and so serve it up.  And in this manner you may also smoare the hinder parts of a Hare, or a whole old Conie, being trust up close together.

-         Markham, Best ed.p 78.

European rabbit - the young ones are called coneys (think Coney Island, but say it like honey and money

European rabbit – the young ones are called coneys (think Coney Island, but say it like honey and money.

A hare is more like a jack rabbit then a bunny rabbit

A hare is more like a jack rabbit then a bunny rabbith








A Pipkin is an earthen ware pot, and one of the rabbits in Watership Down.



Pipkin – repro from Plimoth Plantation. You’ll need a slightly larger pipkin to hold a rabbit or a duck.

(Strawberries) …both meat and medicine…

June 26th, 2013 by KM Wall


summer fruits

summer fruits – gooseberries, strawberries and cherries

Strawberries seem so innocent, so sweet, so …..benign.  But there are hidden dangers even to the smallest fruits.


Strawberries of the garden, be they white, red, or green (but the red are the best) being come to their full ripeness in a warm Summer, and growing in a warm ground, are to a young hot stomach both meat and medicine. Medicin to cool his choler & excessive heat; meat by his temperate and agreeable moisture, fit at that time of the year to be converted in to blood; especially being eaten raw with wine and sugar, or else made into tart stuff and so baked: howsoever they be prepared, let every man take heed by Melchier Duke of Brunswick how he eateth too much of them, who is recorded to have burst a sunder at Rostock with surfeiting upon them. CranZ. lib.9. cap. 9. Hist. Vandal.

- 1655. Thomas Muffett, enlarged by Christopher Bennet. Healths Improvement: OR, Rules Comprizing and Discovering the Nature, Method, and Manner of Preparing all sorts of FOOD used in this NATION. p. 229.


Strawberries  - Coorte

Strawberries – Coorte

 For Meat

Although these recipes SAY cherry,  they are also for strawberries. And other summer fruit. These are two recipes, separated by 50 years , one from England, the other from Holland, more or less master recipes for 17th century summer fruit tarts. Cinnamon is great with summer fruit (and so much more

A Cheerrie Tart

Take the fairest Cherries you can get, and picke them cleane from leaves and stalkes; then spread out your coffin as for your Pippin-tart, (….then having rold out the coffin flat, and raysed up a small verdge of an inch, or more high…) and cover the bottome with Suger; then couer the Suger all over with Cherries, then cover those Cherries with Sugar, some sticks of Cinamon, and here and there a Cloue; then lay in more cherries, and so more Suger, Cinnamon and cloves, till the coffin be filled vp; then couvr it, and bake it in all points as the codling and pipping tart, and so serue it; and in the same manner you may make Tarts of Gooseberries, Strawberries, Rasberries, Bilberries, or any other Berrie whatsoever.

- Gervase Markham. Covntrey Contentments, or The English Huswife. London. 1623. p 106.


To make a Cherry taert.

Take the most beautiful Cherries and when you have made the crust sprinkle enough Sugar on the bottom to cover it, place a layer of Cherries on it and then a Layer of Sugar until the crust is filled, not forgetting Cinnamon, cover it and let it bake until done. In the same manner you can also make a taert  of Gooseberries, Currants, Strawberries, Barbarisse Plums [a type of plum], and all sorts of soft fruits.

- The Sensible Cook. Rose ed. p. 81.

For Medicin

A gargill for a furred mouth.

Take Barly water, strawbery leaves , and sinkfoile, An. Vi. Dr. a sticke of Liquerice, di. Pinte of white vinegar, let it run thorow a twofold linen cloth, it is good for a furred mouth or throat.

1639. The Widowes Treasvre. London. (Stuart Press: 1999. p.32.)

16th or 17th century strawberry leaf pendent in the Museum of London

16th or 17th century strawberry leaf pendent in the Museum of London

Cranberry Tart

November 14th, 2012 by KM Wall

“…as why are Strawberries sweet and Cranberries sowre, there is no reason but the wonderfull worke of God that made them so…(John Eliot, 1647)


Fen grapes, marish worts, mosse-berries, moore-berries, fenberries, bearberries, cramberries…..how can one little bouncing berry have so many aliases? Whatever they’ve been called, cranberries, especially in sauce form, have long been part of the traditional Thanksgiving table.

But sauce isn’t the only thing they’re good for. John Josslyn in 1672 suggests: “Some make Tarts with them as with Goose Berries.” So take your favorite gooseberry tart recipe…..right, we’re not making many gooseberry tarts these days. Since that’s the case, try this one:

To make Gooseberrie Tarts.

Take a pint of Gooseberries, and put them into a quarter of a pound of Sugar, and two spoonfuls of water, and put them on the fire, and stir them as you did the former. ‘

- I., W. A True Gentlewomans Delight. London:1653. Falconwood Press, Albany NY: 1991. p. 19.


How many berries in a pint? A Pint’s a Pound the World Around. Cooking berries in a little water with an equal amount of sugar reminds me of the recipe on the back of the cranberry bag for cranberry sauce. It seems now we’re using cranberries like gooseberries!

Cranberry tarts and cranberry pies were a part of the New England  table  through the 20 th century. They are a very refreshing way to end a big turkey dinner. So this year, skip the sauce and make your cranberry TART.


Cranberry Tart



“…yn take a quart of fine flower, & put ye rest of ye butter to it in little bits, with 4 or 5 spoonfulls of faire water, make ye paste of it & when it is well mingled beat  it on a table & soe roule[2] it out.”

- Martha Washington’s Book of Cookery. Karen Hess, ed.  pp 130-1)

[1] pastry

[2] roll



2 cups all purpose FLOUR

6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) BUTTER

½ teaspoon SALT

1 teaspoons SUGAR

6 tablespoon cold WATER


Mix flour with salt and sugar. Work butter in until it’s crumbly. Add water and mix and mash until it holds together. Add a little more it it’s not holding together, but not too much. When it forms into a great big ball, divide into two parts, Shape into 2 disks, cover with plastic wrap or put into a plastic bag so it doesn’t dry out and let it sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes and up to overnight. This makes enough for TWO pastry shells or a top AND bottom crust for a pie. If you’re making one tart, you can freeze the other half of the pastry for up to two months.  Let thaw overnight in the fridge before using.



12 oz CRANBERRIES (1 bag) – pick out sticks and leaves


1 or 2 Tablespoons WATER

Put water, sugar and picked over cranberries in saucepan. Put them on medium high heat. Stir frequently. When the berries are mostly popped and the sauce is thick remove from heat. (If this sounds almost exactly like the recipe for the sauce on the back of the cranberry bag, that’s because so far it is!) Let cool.


Roll out half the pastry to line a 9” pie pan. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and bake in a 375 oven for 7-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool slightly.

Scraped cranberry into baked pie shell and smooth over the top. Bake in a 350 oven for 15-20 minutes or until firm. Cool completely before serving. Makes on 9” tart.

Pie Baker on the GO - c. 1465-75

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