Bochet – Recipe and Redaction

Author: LadySylvia

Bochet

The Goodman of Paris – A Treatise on Moral and Domestic Economy by a Citizen of Paris, c. 1393; Translated by Eileen Power

 

Recipe found on page 192-193:

“BOCHET.  To make six sesters of bochet take six pints of very soft honey and set it in a cauldron on the fire, and boil it and stir it for as long as it goes on rising and as long as you see it throwing up liquid in little bubbles which which burst and in bursting give of a little blackish steam; and then move it and put in seven sesters of water and boil then until it is reduced to six sester, always stirring.  And then put it in a tub to cool until it be just warm and then run it through a sieve and afterwards put it in a cask and add half a pint of leaven of beer, for it it this which makes it piquant (and if you put in leaven of bread, it is good for the taste, but the colour will be duller), and cover it warmly and well when you prepare it. And if you would make it very good, add thereto and ounce of ginger, long pepper, grain of paradise and cloves, and put them in a linen bag and cast it therein. And when it hath been therein for two or three days, and the bochet tastes enough of the spices and is sufficiently piquant, take out the bag and squeeze it and put it in the other barrel that you are making.  And thus this powder will serve you well two or three times over.”

 

First, I LOVE that the author assumes you are making several casks of the stuff.  It makes me happy.  😀   Second, when I redact this recipe, I am going to reduce the number of “and thens” to a reasonable number.  Gee whiz!

 

My Redaction:

BOCHET.

To make six sesters of bochet take six pints of very soft honey and set it in a cauldron on the fire. Boil and stir it for as long as it goes on rising and until the bubbles give off a blackish steam;

At this point move it off the heat and add seven sesters of water.  (I suspect this is a safety issue, as adding the water directly to the boiling honey would cause dangerous splattering.)  Place back on the heat and boil until it is reduced to six sesters, always stirring.  Next, put it in a tub to cool until it is warm (cool enough to add the yeast). Run it through a sieve. Put it in a cask and add half a pint of beer yeast, for it it this which makes it spicy/tasty (bread yeast is good for the taste but the color will be duller).  Keep it warm and covered to allow the yeast to work well.

And if you would make it very good, add an ounce each of ginger, long pepper, grain of paradise and cloves, and put them in a linen bag and cast it therein. And when it hath been therein for two or three days, and the bochet tastes enough of the spices and is sufficiently piquant, take out the bag and squeeze it and put it in the other barrel that you are making.  And thus this powder will serve you well two or three times over.”

 

Some notes:

As it turns out, it is not as easy to determine what a “sester” actually is.  Here are some options:

Sester:

540 mL via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Roman_units_of_measurement

4 gallons via http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~randyj2222/gendicts.html

15 pundas = 1 sester  5.5kg (5kg) or 12¼lb (10¾lb) http://www.historicalarts.co.uk/viking/measures.html

In an earlier recipe on the same page, the book indicates a sester being 8 pints.

Sester equals “sixth” – Does this mean that 6 pints equals 1/6 of the total must?  If so, I would add 7 times 6 pints of water and then boil it down to 6 sesters (sixths) or 36 total pints.  That would be equal to 4.5 gallons of must.  The ratios would be almost spot on for modern conventions of honey to water.

 

In the end, I’ve decided to go with sester as meaning “sixth” because that gives the closest, most appropriate water to honey ratios.  So there.

Pictures are now available!  😀