Still room

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The still room is a distillery room found in most great houses, castles or large establishments throughout Europe dating back at least to medieval times. Medicines were prepared, cosmetics and many home cleaning products created, and home-brewed beer or wine was often made. Herbs and flowers from the kitchen garden and surrounding countryside were preserved for flavoring food[1] and processed into what today we call essential oils, and infused or distilled, or brewed (etc.) as required to make rose water, lavender water, tinctures,[1] peppermint-based ointments, soaps, furniture polishes and a wide variety of medicines.[2] The still room was a working room: part science lab, part infirmary and part kitchen.

Originally, the still room was a very important part of the household. The lady of the house was in charge of the room, and she taught her daughters and wards[3] some of the skills needed to run their own homes in order to make them more marriageable. As practical skills fell out fashion for high-born women, the still room became the province of poor dependent relations.

In later years, as physicians and apothecaries became more widely spread and the products of the still room became commercially available, the still room increasingly became an adjunct of the kitchen. The use of the still room devolved to making only jams, jellies, and home-brewed beverages, and it became a store room for perishables such as cakes. The still room was staffed by the housekeeper or cook, then later by the still room maid.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Alchin, L.K. (20 March 2012). "Elizabethan Food Preservation". Elizabethan Era. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Heise, Jennifer (1997). "On the Medieval and Renaissance Use of Herbs". Jadwiga's Stillroom Book. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Alchin, L.K. (20 July 2012). "Medieval Women". AncientFortresses. Retrieved 13 March 2014.