Method

Fill a small barrel with 10 pounds of raisins, which need not be of high quality. Add 3 pails of raw, unboiled water, the zest and pulp of 5 large lemons without pith or seeds, and 3 tablespoons of the very best yeast. Let the mixture ferment in a warm room for 3 days, shaking the barrel each day. If fermentation does not occur, add a little more yeast. Set the barrel on ice for 12 days, and then pour into bottles. Cork well, tar, and lay the bottles on their sides in sand in the ice house so that the corks are always covered with liquid. Test after 2 weeks. Place a teaspoon of fine sugar in a glass and stir with a spoon while pouring on the raisin water. If the mixture foams like soda, it is ready to be used. This is a very refreshing and pleasant beverage, especially in the hot summer weather.

*Raisin wine had been made for a long time in Russia and elsewhere. With the addition of treacle and barm, this was called raisin mead in eighteenth-century Russia. By the mid nineteenth century, recipes for both raisin mead (with treacle) and raisin wine (without treacle) were appearing in Russian cookbooks. One advantage of raisin wine was that it could be made anywhere at any season, which was one of the reasons why it was commonly used during Passover by the Jews of Eastern Europe.

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