Spice Blends

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Here are three common spice blends that I’ve made over the years.  It’s not that hard to create your own version.  Most versions have the same ingredients in differing quantities.

Grains of paradise can be difficult to come by.  I use a combination of cardamom and pepper to get a similar taste.  If you live in the US it’s a bit easier to come by than in Canada, though I don’t know why that is.

Galingale is fairly easy to come by, as long as you don’t mind using the South-East Asian version of the spice.  The version which is native to Europe has not been cultivated in several hundred years.

Powder Douce:

Source: Janet Hinson’s translation of Le Ménagier de Paris

HIPPOCRAS. To make powdered hippocras, take a quarter-ounce of very fine cinnamon, hand-picked by tasting it, an ounce of very fine meche ginger and an ounce of grains of paradise, a sixth of an ounce of nutmeg and galingale together, and pound it all together. And when you want to make hippocras, take a good half-ounce or more of this powder and two quarter-ounces of sugar, and mix them together, and a quart of wine as measured in Paris.

And note that the powder and the sugar mixed together make “duke’s powder”.

  • 6 tsp Ginger 6tsp
  • 1 ½ tsp Cinnamon 1½ tsp
  • 6 tsp Grains of paradise or 3 tsp cardamom and 3-4 pepercorns
  • ½ tsp Nutmeg
  • ½ tsp Galingale
  • 5 tbsp Brown Sugar (equal to the amount of current powder)

Grind ginger, cinnamon, grains of paradise, nutmeg, and galingale or cardamom together
Mix with sugar

Update 2016:

I ran the numbers again and this seems to make more sense:

  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp galingale (exclude if you can’t find it, it doesn’t come through that much)
  • 1/4 cup grains of paradise (this is getting easier to come by so don’t bother with the substitute)
  • 1/4 cup powdered ginger
  • 2/3 cup sugar (my research showed no difference between modern sugar and period other than colour)
  1. Grate nutmeg & cinnamon together
  2. Grind galingale & grains of paradise together
  3. Mix nutmeg, cinnamon, galingale, grains, and ginger
  4. mix in sugar (or leave out if making Hippocras)

Powder Fine:

Source:  Janet Hinson’s translation of Le Ménagier de Paris

FINE POWDER of spices. Take an ounce and a drachma of white ginger, a quarter-ounce of hand-picked cinnamon, half a quarter-ounce each of grains and cloves, and a quarter-ounce of rock sugar, and grind to powder.

  • 4 ½ tbsp Ginger
  • 3 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp Grains of paradise or 1 tsp Cardamom and 1-3 pepercorns
  • 1 ½ tsp Cloves
  • 3 tsp White sugar

Grind together

 

Powder Fort:

Source: none

For this spice blend I took some of the stronger spices that are used in different modern redactions of powder fort and mixed them together till I had a nice strong spice blend that would work well mixed with red meats.  This is not an adaptation from a period source, but is rather an adaptation from modern versions.  Unfortunately I don’t remember which versions I combined for this.

  • 2 tsp mace
  • 2 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp galingale
  • 3 ½ tbsp cinnamon
  • 4 ½ tbsp ginger
  • ½ tbsp black pepper

Grind together

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