Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Interpreting out a medieval recipe can be a challenge sometimes. The one I'm currently working on is a good example.

I got some fresh quince (mmMMMmm ... quince) at Jungle Jim's and was looking for something new to make with them, when I came across the following recipe:

To mak chard wardene tak wardens and bak them in an oven then tak them out and paire them and grind them in a mortair and streyne them smothe throwghe a streyner then put them in an erthene pot and put ther to sugur till they be douced as ye think best and put ther to pouder of notmeggs guinger and granes and let the pouder be farcede put ther to powder of sanders tille it be coloured and stirr it with a pot stik and set yt on a soft fyere and let it boile till yt be stiff as leche lombard and ye put amydon or rise it is bettere and when it is cold lay it fair abrod in the coffyn and let it stond ij dais and ye liste strawe senymom upon it and a day aftur the bred is out of the ovene then set it ther in and it shalle en be hard and then ye shall mak chardquynce. [A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)]

This is a recipe for pears, but what caught my eye was (of course) the word chardquynce. The last half of the word is obviously a reference to quince (and in case you didn't know, "wardens" are a type of pears). The first half doesn't mean burned though, but is a Middle-English word meaning "meat" or "flesh", so this recipe is for the cooked flesh of pears but it also mentions quince.

A quick search turned up several recipes for chardwarden, but only a single one that specifically called for quince. Weird. Looking at these recipes further, I discovered a bit of variation.

Chared coneys, or chardwardon is a mix of quince and pears, peeled and cored, cooked until soft, mashed, mixed with honey and spices, and cooked until very thick. I suspect the end result would be somewhat like marmalade or jelly.

Chardewardon and Chare de Wardone - recipes very similar to the one given in full above - is a recipe for cooked pears which references chardquince at the end. The pears are boiled, ground up, strained, mixed with sugar and spices, and them mixed with egg yolks and cooked until thick. This would be more like a fruit pudding.

Now I could just go ahead and make the marmalade-like recipe, but I'm in the mood to try something different. So my current plan is to hybridize these recipes into a stereotypical Chardquynce.  I've already got the quince peeled, cored, and cooked until soft, so tonight I'll mix them with the sugar and spices, and then add egg yolks and cook the stuff until it is pudding-like.  Tomorrow I'll post about how it turns out.

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