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The Tudor Society

Tudor Cooking with Claire – Hippocras

I'm always coming across mentions of hippocras when I'm reading primary source accounts of banquets, coronations and christenings. It was something that was served at the end of a banquet with wafers and "spice plates". I love trying out things I read about so I looked in my books for a contemporary recipe and a modernised version. Here is the result:

The Good Housewife's Jewel by Thomas Dawson (1596):

To make hypocrace
“Take a gallon of white wine, sugar two pounds, of cinnamon, ginger, long pepper, mace not bruised, grains gallingall. yd.od. And cloves, not bruised. You must bruise every kind of spice a little and put them in an earthenware pot all day. And then cast them through your bags two times or more as you see cause. And so drink it.”

My version based on the measurements given in “Sweet Hippocras” from Peter Brears' Cooking and Dining in Tudor and Early Stuart England:

1 pint white wine (can be made with any wine or try grape juice)
2 cloves and 2 peppercorns, bruised with a mortar and pestle
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger (or try grated root ginger)
2 oz/50g sugar
Mix everything together in a jug and leave to infuse for 1-4 days. Peter Brears does this in lightly corked bottle. Strain through a cheesecloth/fine sieve/coffee filter and serve or keep bottled in a cool place to enjoy at a later date.

Here is another version, this time from Gervase Markham's The English Housewife (1615):

A pottle (2 quarts) of wine (red or white)
2 ounces good cinnamon
1/2 ounce ginger
9 cloves
6 pepper corns
A nutmeg
Rosemary flowers
1lb sugar

Bruise the spices and put in the wine with some rosemary flowers. Let them steep over night. Add at least a pound of sugar and when well settled let it run through a woollen bag (or muslin cloth).

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Tudor Cooking with Claire – Hippocras