Originally By Tony Ackland
Ukrainian Alcoholic BeveragesThe following information was written by Wal/Volodia, for the Distillers newsgroup at http://www.yahoogroups.com. Big thanks to Wal for letting me copy it here ...
THE ORIGIN OF VODKA
The language of early science or rather its precursor alchemy was Latin, and the early names for distilled alcohol were in Latin, although the word 'alcohol' itself is from the Arabic 'al-kuhl'. Arabs from the 7th century borrowed the technology of the conquered Hellinistic east, and carried it to western Europe. The Mongols also thrust westward, and it is recorded that Ogendai Khan, Genghis Khan's successor, drank himself to death in 1241, thus we can say that it was alcohol that saved western Europe from the Mongol threat. It does not appear though, that Mongolian or Chinese distillation techniques influenced Rus' (now modern Ukraine, Belarus, European Russia). Though the geographical distribution of certain foods, supports the view that the Mongolians did introduce Ukrainians to pickled cabbage, dumplings ('varenyky'), noodles ('lokshyna'), and fermented milk.
In western Europe, distilling alcohol from wine was practised in Italy in the 11th century, but generally this was done on a small scale and secretly by alchemists, physicians, monks and apothecaries. This professional secret started to spread as early as the 14th century, and it was only after 1500 that distilled alcohol became more widely available. Up to 1478, the city of Kaffa in the Crimea was a Genoese trading colony not subordinated to the Crimean Khan, but it does not appear that alcohol was distilled there. There were Greeks also in the Crimea and therefore grape wine. One can speculate also, that Italian pasta and coffee had its origins in the Crimea, as these were known to the Crimean Tartars. Also Ukrainian slaves were shipped all over the Mediterranean basin from here, and the actual word slave is from medieval Latin 'sclavus' or Slav. In the Balkans, the influence was from Turkey, and the southern Slav 'rakija' for distilled alcohol comes from the Turkish 'raki', which itself comes from the Arabic 'arak' ,which is still popular in Lebanon.
From the late 1600's to the 1700's we see a rise in the consumption of distilled alcohol as a recreational beverage. Distilled alcohol reached Poland probably from Germany in the 15th century and it is recorded that the term 'wodka' was known from at least 1534. The Baltic city of Danzig (now Polish Gdansk), was a member of the Hanseatic League, and the first distillery was established there by a Dutchman in the 16th century, while in Baltic Estonia, written records indicate the distillation of alcohol even in 1485. Distilled alcohol reached Ukraine towards the end of the 15th century. The first recorded distilleries were in Sokal', Hrabivec', Tushivci, and from these western towns they spread eastward. In Pamva Berynda's 1672 Lexicon, there are entries for 'vodka do lichen'ja ochij' (vodka to cure eyes) and 'vodka palenaja abo kroplja, kaplja abo malaja'.
It is believed that distilled alcohol spread from Poland via Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine to Russia, although some Russians dispute this. But the very word 'vodka' entered the Russian language as late as the 19th century and before that, the Russian language had no 'vodka' word. The term used in Russia was 'vino' (wine) which was normally used for the imported grape wine ,and was transposed onto the then new distilled alcohol, which most probably was initially imported from Baltic distilleries. It could also come from the 'wein' part of the German 'branntwein' which passed into the Polish 'gorzale wino' or the Ukrainian 'harjache vyno'/'palene vyno'. In 1886, 92.5% of spirit imported to St. Petersburg was Baltic in origin, mostly Estonian. Also at that time, Poland belonged to the Russian empire.
An obsevation of the early names for distilled alcohol indicates that modern European terms are derivatives of :
'Aqua vitae' (water of life) for a 90%abv,
'Aqua ardens (burning water)' for a 60%abv,
'Spiritus vini' (wine spirit) for distilled wine.
'Aqua ardens' and 'spiritus vitae' has given us:
Italian - acqua vita
French - eau-de-vie
Gaelic - uisce beatha, uisgebaugh
English - whisky/whiskey ( corruption of the Gaelic term)
Polish - okowita, wodka, wodeczka
Finnish - viina
Ukrainian - okovyta, vodka
Danish & Swedish - akvavit
Norwegian - aquavit, akevitt
'Aqua ardens' and 'spiritus vini' or a combination from both, has given us:
Italian - acqua ardente
French - eau ardens, esprit-de-vin
Spanish - aguardiente
German - gebrannte wasser, weingeist, weinbrand
Dutch - brandewijn, korenwijn (grain wine)
English - brandy (corruption of the Dutch term)
Swedish - brannvin
Danish - braendevin, sprit
Polish - gorzale wino, winiak, spirytus
Ukrainian - harjache vyno, palene vyno, spyrt
Russian - khljebnoje vino (grain wine), spirt
Czech & Slovak - palenka
In Poland the terms 'okowita' (for a triple distilled alcohol) and 'gorzale wino' were used. 'Gorzale wino' was shortened to 'gorzalka' ,which in western Ukraine was rendered into Ukrainian as 'horilka' and which is still the standard term. In Poland in the 18th century, the terms 'okowita' and 'gorzalka' were replaced by the term 'wodka'.
The traditional beverages in Ukraine prior to the appearance of distilled alcohol were 'med' (mead), 'pyvo' (hopped beer), 'braha' (unhopped millet beer), 'kvas' (generic name for fermented beverages, usually from fruits, berries and beets), 'syrivec'' (bread kvas), 'syta' (honey diluted with water), 'uzvar' (fruit compote), 'berezovyj and klenovyj sik' (fermented birch and maple sap). The term 'vyno' (wine) was used for imported grape wine, and being imported only the affluent could afford it. In early Ukrainian folk sources, the hyphenated form 'med-pyvo' (mead-beer) denoted an abundance of alcoholic beverages, but with the decline of village brewing due to a state sponsored monopoly on alcohol, and large scale commercial breweries, this was later changed to 'med-vyno' (mead-wine) and 'med-horilka' (mead-vodka). The 'vyno' in 'med-vyno', probably refers to the term 'harjache' or 'palene vyno' as ordinary villages could not normally afford imported grape 'vyno'. Good quality horilkas were given the terms 'pinna', 'tretjoprobna', 'perehonna', while poor quality horilkas were given the sarcastic terms 'syvukha' (Polish 'siwucha'), 'mokrukha', 'chykyldykha'. 'Shpahativka', 'spotykach', 'hostrohljad' apparently were reserved for stronger variants.
Political and economic factors influenced the growth of distilleries in Halychyna (Galicia) in the 18th century. The partition of Poland cut off former markets and created the need to use surplus grain, previously exported. In 1836 there were 4,981 distilleries in Austrian controlled western Ukraine, while in the Kiev gubernia there was one 'shynka' (tavern) for every 597 inhabitants. Alcohol abuse was a sympton of the opressive political situation, but it did fill the state coffers handsomely. Ivan Kotljarevskyj in his 'Enejida' mentions 'slyvjanka', 'prosta horilka', 'perehinna', 'tretjoprobna', 'tjutjunkova' (tobacco flavored), 'pinna', 'kalhanka', 'med', 'pyvo', 'braha', 'syrivec''. He also mentions other flavoring botanicals - juniper, star-anise, aniseed, pepper and saffron. 'Kalhanivka' is a horilka that has been flavored with the root of the herb 'kalhan' (aka 'perstach prjamostojachyj'). Its English name is tormentil (Tormentilla erecta or Potentilla tormentilla). It was a popular horilka in the past, as tormentil was regarded as a cure for many ailments, especially haemorrhaging, and so for fighting cossacks it was useful.
We have shown earlier that the term wodka/vodka was known in Poland and Ukraine but not in Russia until late in the 19th century and this is shown by old vodka bottles. In 'The complete Book of Spirits and Liqueurs', Cyril Ray, 1978, there are two photographs of old vodka bottles:
a) 'Wodka Perla' by the distiller Baczewski from Lwow (Ukrainian Lviv) dated 1782.
b) 'Wodka by the distiller Relsky, dated 1721 with the Polish spelling of 'wodka' and 'eau-de-vie russe' in French. Relsky appears in both Roman and Russian Cyrillic scripts.
c) 'Ochishchenoje Stolovoje Vino' (Rectified Table Wine), by the distiller Wolfschmidt, 'Produce of Riga'. Wolfschmidt was a supplier to the Russian tsars Nikolaj I and Alexander III. Wolfschmidt vodka was introduced into the U.S. in 1847 and the name is now owened by Jim Beam.
d) 'Wodka' by a non legible distiller ,with the the Polish term 'wodka', and 'Ochishchennoje Stolovoje Vino' in Russian Cyrillic script.
e) A bottle from a non legible Riga distiller in 3 languages - 'eau-de-vie russe' in French, 'Stolova vodka' in Russian Cyrillic script and 'vodka' in Roman script but spelt with a 'v' and not 'w'.
f) 'Stolovoje Vino' by P. Smirnov in Russian Cyrillic script dated 1886. Smirnov (Smirnoff) was a supplier to the Russian court, but after Pyotr Smirnov's death in 1898, the name restarted under Vladimir Smirnoff in Lviv in 1922. In 1933, the rights were sold to Rudolph Kunett, a Russian in the U.S. and since 1939, the name 'Smirnoff' is the property of the Heublein company.
So we can say that the Arabs brought Hellinistic distillation technology to Spain and Italy, and this was transferred to France, Holland, Germany, Poland , Ukraine and Russia. Although in Ukrainian, the term 'horilka' is the present standard, the term 'vodka' was also recorded in 1672, well before entering the Russian language.
Home distillation (samohon) is currently legal in Ukraine, and mash bills that were previously transmitted orally are now published. The recipes below were originally published in 1992, but some of the recipes using bizarre ingredients such as halva, starch, confectionery, tomato paste have been omitted as they were created during sugar shortages in Soviet times.
The recipes have been redacted and scaled to 20 litres (5 US gallons) which is a common home fermenter size and useful for comparison purposes. The original recipes actually use a convenient 'vidro' (bucket) of 10-12 litres as a measure. A wine or beer yeast will give a better result than yeast for bread making which is the common type used.
The wash is distilled in traditional pot stills, the designs of which show ingenuity, or for small amounts, by using a modified Chinese/Mongolian still, as described at http://www.livemind.co.uk/Recipes.htm 'Samohon' is the Ukrainian term, 'samogon' is the Russian.
1) Grain (malted)
Rye, wheat, barley, millet, maize, peas are first malted by soaking and spreading out in a 25 mm layer to sprout. Wait until sprouts are 5 mm long. Dry the grain (do not exceed 50C). Remove the sprouts. Alternatively 'green' or undried malted grain can be used immediately. It is then crushed, and added to water at the mash temperature of 65C (149F). During th 90 minute conversion rest, the starches are converted to sugars. Leave overnight to cool to the fermentation temperature of 24C. Add yeast. For malting see "Malting in a Nutshell' http://www.hbd.org/brewery/library/Malt.html l water
Boil the potatoes in a minimum amount of water (just to cover) and then mash. This should make about 20 l (5 US gals) of mash. Cool to 65C. Add the malted grain to the mashed potatoes and leave overnight to cool to 24C. Add yeast.
Soak rye or wheat bread in water at 75C. When it drops to 65C, add crushed malted grain and leave overnight to cool to 24C. Add yeast.
5) Sugarbeets Grate sugarbeets and cook with a minimum of water. Place in sack and wring out juice.
Place quartered apples in a large bin and mash to a pulp using a 2 m pole. Place in a sack and wring out juice.
3 buckets of wild pears (30 l). Allow to go soft. Mash to a pulp using a 2 m pole. Add yeast and ferment on pulp.
3 buckets of plums (30 l). Mash to a pulp. Add yeast and ferment on pulp.
10) Domestic Pears
11) Dried Fruit
12) Grape Pomace
While searching, I came across interesting historical recipes from Ukraine, which I think are worth posting to give a more global perspective.
UKRAINIAN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
Distilled alcohol ('horilka') appeared in Ukraine in the 15th century. Prior to this alcoholic beverages were produced by natural fermentation. Popular beverages were 'syrivec'' (bread kvas), fruit or berry kvas, birch or maple sap kvas, beet kvas, 'pyvo', (hopped beer) 'braha' (unhopped beer) and 'syta' (unfermented mead must) and the fermented 'med' (mead). 'Kvas' and 'med' were common beverages in Kievan Rus', 'kvas' being an everyday drink, while 'med' was for special occasions such as religious feast days ('kanunyj med') and weddings.
A Rus' chronicle mentions that mead was brewed for the funeral wake which Princess Ol'ha held for her husband. With the introduction of distillation flavored horilkas appeared. In the 19th century a 'nalyvka' was made by steeping fruit in 25% horilka, while a 'nastojanka' ('nastojka') was made by steeping herbs and spices in a similar strength horilka. Later, when it beame generally affordable, sugar was added for sweetness. The term 'nalyvka' was also later used for a type of sweet fruit wine made by fermenting fruit and berries without added water, but with sufficient added sugar to provide a residual sweetness. This was naturally weakly alcoholic, and to increase the strength, horilka was added. A stronger variant, was called 'spotykach', the name derived from the Ukrainian verb 'to tumble'. The term 'mohorych' was used for an alcoholic beverage that was drunk to seal or ratify and agreement, similar to the French term 'ratafia'.
Below are redacted alcoholic beverages from various Ukrainian cook books, with emphasis on the earlier variant. With the legalizing of home-distillation in Ukraine, a 2001 Ukrainian cook book has even recipes for 'samohon'. The quantity for the recipes has been scaled to a convenient one U.S. gallon or 4 litres.
'Syta'(Unfermented Mead Must)
a) 'Med mezhyhirs'kyj'(Mezhihirsk Mead - spiced dry mead)
These days the recipes state that sliced and toasted rye bread should be soaked in hot water, the mash strained, and then sugar and yeast added. The older method is to add malted grain or roasted grain to the soaking bread. The malted grain provides the enzymes necessary to convert the starch to sugars, while the roasted grain provides color and flavor. You can make your own 'green' malted barley grain by soaking the grain and allowing it to sprout about 3 mm. This is rolled and added to the soaking bread. Barley grain can be roasted in a fry pan until golden brown, crushing and adding to the soaking bread.
'Burjakovyj kvas'(Beet Kvas - this was mainly used in cooking.)
'Berezovyj' and 'Klenovyj sik'(Birch and Maple Sap Kvas)
In early Spring the trunk of the trees are tapped for their sap and on average 20 litres can be obtained from one mature tree. Maple sap contains about 3% sugar while birch has about half this amount. The sap is taken in the first 2 weeks of March. A slanting hole 25 mm deep is bored in the trunk 400 mm above the ground and a tube is inserted, the other end leading to a jar. When finished the hole is plugged. An easier way is to attach a bottle to a cut branch that is directed downwards. Fermentation was spontaneous, although you could add a beer yeast to speed it along. Cranberries, guelder rose berries, roasted barley or roasted peas were added for flavor. Birch sap contains oil of wintergreen (menthyl salicylate), and birch sap kvas was regarded useful for chest ailments. For birch tapping details see http://www.birchboy.com/articles.html 'Jabluchnyk'(Apple kvas)
Crab apples, wild pears, cranberries, bilberries, guelder rose berries (highbush cranberries) were used to make a fruit or berry kvas using a similar method, with the principal ingredient giving the kvas its name. Place sweet and crab apples in a barrel (or 20 l fermenter) and pour water over them. A sour dough starter was added to speed the fermentation. This was covered and weighed down to submerge the fruit or berries.
A type of unhopped beer, traditionally using malted millet grain. Hops began to be added in the 12th century and the resultant brew was then called 'pyvo'.
Grain was malted by soaking and sprouting. This was then mashed in water, after which it was boiled with hops, cooled and then yeast added. Often mixed grains were used such as barley and millet. 'Pyvo' was generally brewed for special occasions, but its status was second to 'med'. Here are 2 typical recipes:
a) Beer from barley
'Nalyvka' style sweet wine:
Originally the term 'nalyvka' was used for a horilka flavored by steeping fruit or berries without added sugar. As sugar became affordable, liqueur style sweet wines began to be made using only fruit or berries and sugar, and relying on spontaneous fermentation. These are also called a 'nalyvka'. The addition of a wine yeast though, will ensure a rapid fermentation, with less chance for bacterial spoilage. Yeast generally will ferment 1 kg of sugar in 4 litres of water and any residual sugar will add sweetness to the 'nalyvka'. 7 kg of fruit or berries will produce about 4 litres of juice and will contain about 700 g of natural sugar. Here is a typical recipe:
Fruit or berry 'nalyvka' by fermentation
The horilka that was affordable to the villagers even in the 19the century was of a poor quality and a low strength (about 25% by volume), and so it was generally flavored. Two popular flavored horilkas made by infusion (warm steeping) were 'varenukha' which was favored by women, and 'zapikanka' which was favored by men as it contained cayenne pepper. A 19th century source does not mention the addition of sugar, only the addition of honey to 'varenukha'.
Methods used to produce flavored horilkas:
1) Infusion (warm steeping of fruits, berries, herbs and spices). Originally only honey was added. Later sugar was used.
2) Maceration (cold steeping of fruits and berries, herbs and spices). A 'nalyvka' was made using fruits and berries while a 'nastojanka' ('nastojka') was made using herbs and spices. Originally a 'nalyvka' was made by filling a container 3/4 full with fruit or berries and covering to the top with horilka. This was allowed to steep for 2 weeks. Sugar was not added.
3) Addition of pulp from fruits or berries to horilka.
4) Fermentation of fruits and berries and fortification with horilka.
1) Recipes using infusion:
This is basically a weakly alcoholic 'uzvar' or stewed fruit, swetened with honey. Quite often it was drunk warm and the fruit eaten separately. The ingredients were placed in crockpot which was sealed and placed in a warm oven (90 degrees Centigrade) for 12 hours. These days you could just add horilka to the warm stewed fruit.
2) Recipes using maceration:
This was once popular as the herb 'kalhan' was regarded as a general tonic, good for gastric ailments and good to stop bleeding which made it useful to cossacks especially. Tormentil root was macerated in horilka to taste. 1-2 tablespoons of chopped rootstock for a 750 ml bottle of horilka would be a usual amount.
'Slyvjanka' and 'Vyshnivka'(Plum horilka, Cherry horilka)
A sweet 'nalyvka' (liqueur) can be made from fruit and berries with the name derived from the fruit or berries used.
4) Recipes using fermentation and fortification with horilka:
Thanks again to Wal for all this page ! Tony.