The Sweet Medieval Cure for Baldness
Until the 16th century, delicious honey was the usual sweetener used at court for tasty dishes. Everyone in England and Europe who could, kept bees. Demand was high, not only for honey to sweeten…, but also for beeswax for candles. These candles were primarily used in church services.
Sugar had been imported into England from Cyprus and Morocco since the 13th century, but it was very very expensive and used rarely. Elizabeth, however, was known to be particularly fond of sugary treats. Without modern dental care, her teeth turned black. Elizabeth herself was aware of this and, as she aged, would hide her mouth. While foreign ambassadors sometimes commented on her nasty teeth, court painters had enough sense not to depict them.
And of course, honey was a popular folk cure in the Middle Ages. Many of the cures are still used today. For example, a bit of honey dropped into tea soothes a sore throat. Honey was also used as a salve for wounds, burns and skin ulcers. While old in use, modern science has shown that honey is a natural antibacterial and moisturizer.
But here’s an old honey wives’ tale you may not be familiar with. We found it buried in Queens Closet Opened: Incomparable Secrets in Physick, Chirurgery, Preserving, Candying, and Cookery, written in 1655. (A little past the Middle Ages, but very possibly used for hundreds of years before being written down.)
This simple tip advises how to “make Hair grow thick”.
Take three spoonfuls of Honey, and a good handful of Vine sprigs that twist like wire, and beat them well, and strain their juyce into the Honey, and annoynt the bald places therewith.
More likely to “grow” flies than hair, but if you or someone you love is bald, this “Middle-Aged” cure just might work. Hope doth spring eternal.
And should you have any honey left over after your hair-raising attempts, you might want to try two of e-Royalty’s favorite honey recipes … for eating that is.
These two honey recipes from The Forme of Cury [Cookery], a cookbook first published in 1390, will seem somewhat familiar to modern taste. Both were tested in the e-Royalty kitchens and pronounced delicious. Enjoy!
In its’ original form…
“Take wyne and hony, and fond [mix] it togyder and skym it clene, and seeth it long. Do [put] thereto powder of ginger, peper, and salt. Tost [toast] brede, and lay the few therto. Kerve [carve] pecys of ginger, and florish it therewith, and messe it forth.”
“Take wine and honey, and mix it together and skim it clean and simmer it long. Put thereto powder of ginger, pepper and salt. Toast bread and lay the syrup thereto. Carve pieces of ginger and flourish it therewith, and serve it forth.”
A Modern Adaptation:
“TOASTEE” is similar to our French toast, but instead of serving it with maple syrup, serve it with a warm honey, wine and ginger syrup.
1 cup honey
¼ cup dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
Simmer one cup of honey and one-quarter cup of dry white wine; skim off any froth. Add to taste powdered ginger and coarse salt; with a pinch of black pepper. Pour over French toast. Garnish with grated fresh gingerroot and serve.
In its’ original form…
“Take almandes blanched, grynde hem, and drawe him up with water and wyne. Quarter fyges, hole raisons, cast thereto powdor ginger, and hony clarified. Seeth it wel and salt it, and serve forth.”
Take almonds blanched, grind them and mix them up with water and wine. Quarter figs, whole raisins, add thereto powdered ginger and honey clarified. Simmer it well and salt it, and serve forth.”
A Modern Adaptation:
“Figee” is rather like a combination of a granola bar and Fig Newton filling.
1 ½ cups honey
½ cup water or white wine
1 lb shelled almonds, finely chopped
¼ cup dried figs, coarsely diced
¼ cup raisins
1 teaspoon ginger powder, plus additional to taste
¼ teaspoon (scant) coarse salt
A pinch of freshly-ground black pepper
Bring the honey and the water or wine to a simmer, skimming off any froth on the surface. Add the remaining ingredients: chopped almonds, diced figs, raisins, ginger powder, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for approximately 30 minutes. Do not let the nuts turn dark (they will become bitter) or burn. Add a little more white wine or water if the mixture becomes too thick to stir. Line a rimmed pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper. When the honey mix is cooked, pour it onto the pan, smoothing the top. Cool. When cool, cut into squares.
Do you have a favorite honey recipe you’d like to share … or an old wives’ cure for baldness? Or if you try the recipes, let us know how they turned out. We’d love to hear from you so please comment below.