The Stewpot Recipe Gallery
Colored With "Period Food Coloring"
In trying to think of new things I have learned over the past year, I decided
that the one I've had the most fun with is the making of marzipan fruits.
However, until now, I had always used modern commercial food colorings
to color the marzipan. Recently, in reading through some recipes
in the Forme of Cury, I noted that there were an abundance of dishes
where the maker was instructed to color them with saffron, saunders, alkanet,
and other substances. As this intrigued me, I decided to experiment
with using period coloring agents to color marzipan. The results
looked like this:
Substances used to color food:
Lete Lardes XX.III.VIII.
(from Forme of Cury)
Take parsel and grynd with a Cowe mylk, medle it with ayren lard
ydyced take mylke after that thou hast to done and myng therewith.
And make thereof dyverse colours. If thou wolt have zelow, do thereto
safron and no parsel. If thou wolt have it white, nonther parsel
ne safron but do thereto amydon. If thou wilt have rede do thereto
sandres. If thou wilt have pownas do thereto turnesole. If thou wilt
have blak do thereto blode ysode and fryed. And set on the
fyr in as many vessels as thou hast colors therto and seeth it wel and
lay thise colours in a cloth first oon, and sithen anothe upon him, and
sithen the thridde and the ferthe. And presse it harde til it be
all out clene. And whan it is al colde, lesh it thynne, put it in a panne
and fry it well, and serve it forth.
(from The Ladies Cabinet, Ruthven, 1655)
66 - To make a Paste of Almonds. Take a pound of
small Almond, blanch them out of hot water into cold, then dry them with
a cloth, and beat them in a stone morter till they come to Paste, putting
now and then a spoonfull of Rose-water to them to keep them from oyling;
when they are beaten to a fine Paste, take half a pound of Sugar finely
beaten and searced, put it to your paste, and beat it til it will twist
between your fingars and your thumb finely without knots, for then it is
enough: then make thereo Pies, Birds, Fruits, Flowers, or any pretty things
printed with Moulds, and so gild them and put them into your stove and
use them at your pleasure.
(from The English Housewife, Gervase Markham, 1615.)
173. To make the best marchpane. To make the best
marchpane, take the best Jordan almonds and blanch them in warm water,
then put them into a stone mortar, and with a wooden pestle beat them to
pap, then tke of the finest refined sugar well searced, and with it, and
damask rose-water, beat it to a good stiff paste, allowing almost to every
Jordan almond three spoonful of sugar; then when it is brought thus to
a paste, lay it upon a fair table,an, strewing searced sugar under it,
mould it like leaven; then with a rolling pin roll it forth, and lay it
upon wafers washed with rose-water; then pinch it about the sides, and
put it into what form you please; then strew searced sugar all over it;
which done, wash it over with rose-water and sugar mixed together, for
that will make the ice, then adorn it with comfits, gilding, or whatsoever
devices you please, and so set it into a hot stove, and there bake it crispy,
and so serve it forth. Some use to mix with the paste cinnamon and
ginger finely searced, but I refer that to your particular taste.
Three tubes of prepared marzipan
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 bunch of parsley
2 tablespoons beet powder
2 tablespoons saunders (sandalwood powder)
whole cloves (optional)
Divide the marzipan into six chunks (one each for red apples, green apples,
lemons, pears, oranges and strawberries).
Moisten the saffron with 1/2 teaspoon boiling water. Allow to steep
for 15-20 minutes to bring out the maximum color.
Wash and de-stem parsley. Puree it in a blender or food processor
with just enough water to moisten it (no more than one tablespoon).
Wring the pulp through a cloth to extract as much of the green juice as
Mix the 1 tablespoon beet powder and 1 tablespoon saunders each with just
enough water to make them into thick liquids.
Put 1/4 cup sugar into each of five ziplock baggies. For the saffron
and parsley, drop a few drops of each liquid into a bag of sugar and mix
well. Mix saunders and beet to make apple red. Mix remaining
dry saunders with sugar to make orange. Mix remaining dry beet powder
with sugar to make pink.
For Lemons: Add a few drops of saffron liquid to marzipan
and mix. Form into lemon shapes. Roll in saffron-colored sugar.
For Oranges: Add several drops of saunders liquid and
a drop or two of saffron liquid to marzipan and mix. Roll into balls.
Roll in saunders-powder colored sugar. Use a clove for the stem end.
For Green Apples: Add many drops of parsley liquid
to marzipan and mix. Form into apple shapes. Roll in parsley-colored
sugar. Add cloves for stem and blossom ends.
For Red Apples: Add several drops each of beet liquid
and saunders liquid to marzipan and mix. Form into apple shapes.
Roll in sugar colored with saunders and beet liquid. Add cloves for
stem and blossom ends.
For Pears: Add a few drops of saffron liquid to marzipan
and mix. Form into pear shapes. Roll in parsley-colored sugar.
Add cloves for stem and blossom ends.
For Strawberries: Add several drops of beet liquid
to marzipan and mix. Form into strawberry shapes (remembering that
period strawberries were more similar in size and shape to wild strawberries).
Roll in sugar mixed with dry beet powder.
If the colored liquids make the marzipan too soft to work with, work in
some sugar or powdered sugar, then let it sit and dry for half an hour.
When finished, spread the fruits out in a single layer on a cookie sheet
or in the bottom of a baking pan. Allow to air dry for 2-3 days,
until the outside is dry to the touch.
Brander, Gustavus (ed.). Forme of Cury, A Roll Of Ancient English
Cookery, Compiled, about A.D. 1390. London, 1780. Scanned
facsimile available at http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/foc/.
Markham, Gervase (Best, Michael R., ed.). The English Housewife.
McGill-Queen's University Press, 1986
Renfrow, Cindy & Fleming, Elise. The Colorful Cook. Self-published,
1999. (Later published as a Compleat Anachronist, October 2000).
Ruthven (Lord). The Ladies Cabinet Enlarged and Opened.
Falconwood Press, 1990.
Date Of Redaction
Prepared for the Caerthen Arts and Sciences Competition
November 4, A.S. XXXV (2000 c.e.)