Digby’s Spiced Apple Cider



This recipe is loosely based on a direct recipe from Digby. In what I now believe was a misreading of the original, I decided to try what I thought was a spiced cider. The fact that there was no list of ingredients for a hippocras in Digby ought to have tipped me off, but I continued anyway. The hippocras bag in the original likely just means straining the pulp for a clear brew, rather than straining it through spices. However, the spices add a subtle flavor, and I like the accidental result. 

I used a list of hippocras spices from Gervase Markham because while it is slightly post-period, it had a great selection of spices, and bridged the gap between period and Digby; all the spices can be found in other period sources. I halved the amount of spices from Markham because the full amount seemed too strong, especially given the quality of modern spices. The original recipe seems to be for a clear apple juice, but once I had spiced it, I opted to let it ferment naturally.

 Recipe for Digby’s Spiced Cider

A VERY PLEASANT DRINK OF APPLES Take about fifty Pippins; quarter and core them, without paring them: for the paring is the Cordialest part of them. Therefore onely wipe or wash them well, and pick away the black excrescence at the top; and be sure to leave out all the seeds, which are hot. You may cut them (after all the superfluities are taken away) into thinner slices, if you please. Put three Gallons of Fountain water to them in a great Pipkin, and let them boil, till the Apples become clear and transparent; which is a sign, they are perfectly tender, and will be in a good half hour, or a little more. Then with your Ladle break them into Mash and Pulpe, incorporated with the water; letting all boil half an hour longer, that the water may draw into it self all the vertue of the Apples. Then put to them a pound and a half of pure dubble refined Sugar in powder, which will soon dissolve in that hot Liquor. Then pour it into an Hippocras bag, and let it run through it two or three times, to be very clear. Then put it up into bottles; and after a little time, it will be a most pleasant, quick, cooling, smoothing drink. Excellent in sharp Gonorrhœas. -Digby, 1669 Ingredients:


  • 1 gallon unpasteurized apple cider
  • 1/2 lb. turbinado sugar

Spices (from Markham, for hippocras), in a straining bag:

  • 1 cinnamon stick (Ceylon cinnamon)
  • ½” knob ginger, sliced
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch rosemary flowers

 Bring the cider to a simmer, then add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat, and pour over the bag of spices several times, until the flavor is strong enough. (If needed, the spices can be steeped in the hot cider until you are happy with the flavor). Top with airlock, and allow to ferment naturally until it stops working. Bottle and age at least one month.



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