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Barley Water

Recipe by Daniel Myers

Recipes for barley water appear more often in medieval medical texts than in cookbooks. Still, it's a light and pleasant non-alcoholic drink. There are many different versions of this recipe in the middle ages that add various flavorings such as licorice root, rose water, anise seed, and figs.


1/4 cup pearl barley
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups boiling water
Peel and juice from 1 lemon


Combine all ingredients, cover, and let sit until cold. Strain before serving.

Sweet Tisane. Take water and boil it, then add for each sixth of a gallon of water one good bowl of barley, and it does not (or it does not matter? - Trans) if it still has its hulls, and get two parisis' worth of licorice, item, or figs, and boil it all until the barley bubbles; then let it be strained in two or three cloths, and put in each goblet a large amount of rock-sugar. This barley is good to feed to poultry to fatten them. Note that good licorice is the youngest, and when cut is a lively greenish colour, and if it is old it is more insipid and dead, and dry.

Published: 2009-02-15