But what if they cooked it?

How much would medieval Europe change if they had the custom of cooking any water before drinking it?
 
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It's hard to say, but probably not as much as we would think. From analysis of latrine contents it seems that the big issue was parasite load, not so much waterborne diseases. We can only speculate how much it would do for people's health.

It might have an impact on water supply management, though, especially if it was felt that boiled water was 'good' water. In medieval Europe, the preference was for clear, running, sediment-free and naturally cool water, and some towns made major efforts to channel it fresh from the spring. If it was believed you could just turn well- or pondwater into the equivalent, people might not bother.
 
Less wine and beer would have been drunk
Actually, that's not a given. While drinking beer (not necessarily wine, since that was watered after fermentation) would have been safer than drinking water, that's not the reason people did it. Wealthy Romans had access to safe drinking water, and they drank wine whenever they could afford it.

Interesting aside: If boiling water before drinking becomes common (and it could, humoral theory would support it), the chance is good that flavored infusions would become more popular earlier. Probably not tzea, but spices for the upscale few and various tisanes for the common crowd.
 

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Actually, that's not a given. While drinking beer (not necessarily wine, since that was watered after fermentation) would have been safer than drinking water, that's not the reason people did it. Wealthy Romans had access to safe drinking water, and they drank wine whenever they could afford it.

Interesting aside: If boiling water before drinking becomes common (and it could, humoral theory would support it), the chance is good that flavored infusions would become more popular earlier. Probably not tzea, but spices for the upscale few and various tisanes for the common crowd.
And the Roman Legions added sour wine/vinegar to their water before drinking it.
 
And the Roman Legions added sour wine/vinegar to their water before drinking it.
It's likely they felt they were doing the opposite. Posca - the beverage made of vinergar or sour wine and water - uses a specific term different from aqua, and seems to be considered a different drink. Its taste and keeping properties are attractive enough to make it a good idea, actually, regardless of whether it was safer for your health.
 
Actually, that's not a given. While drinking beer (not necessarily wine, since that was watered after fermentation) would have been safer than drinking water, that's not the reason people did it. Wealthy Romans had access to safe drinking water, and they drank wine whenever they could afford it.
Well this isn't necessarily true. For one thing the Roman wealthy probably didn't know they had safe water as such, and they might well have felt they were risking less by drinking wine whenever possible. Plus, getting drunk is pretty damned fun, and wine is tasty.

One thing that probably would have happened though is that the custom of adding hops to beer, originally done to make it keep longer, would be delayed, and thus the European beer tradition might not develop as strongly and distinctly as it has IOTL. Which would be a pity.
 
One thing that probably would have happened though is that the custom of adding hops to beer, originally done to make it keep longer, would be delayed, and thus the European beer tradition might not develop as strongly and distinctly as it has IOTL. Which would be a pity.
:eek::eek::eek:

What an awful TL this would make! ;)
 
Well this isn't necessarily true. For one thing the Roman wealthy probably didn't know they had safe water as such, and they might well have felt they were risking less by drinking wine whenever possible. Plus, getting drunk is pretty damned fun, and wine is tasty.
I think that's what he was trying to say. ;)
 
One aspect which didn't pop up already: Boiling needs fire, and thus is expensive. The 'common crowd' (as you put it) did not have a sufficient supply of firewood, at many places frequently. It does not suffice to have a forest, you need the manpower to cut it down and chop it.

While boiling one bucket would not be worthwhile mentioning, we are discussing what would happen if many people do so on a regular basis, and then the supply issue becomes relevant.


One thing that probably would have happened though is that the custom of adding hops to beer, originally done to make it keep longer, would be delayed,

Then beer would essentially be ale.

Didn't the invention of hops adding take place in the early middle ages?
Then that drink might have developped nevertheless when the boiling boys kick in ...



From analysis of latrine contents it seems that the big issue was parasite load, not so much waterborne diseases.

Sometimes I'm really fascinated and proud what kind of insight today's science is up to draw out of dead people's ... waste.
 
Then beer would essentially be ale.

Didn't the invention of hops adding take place in the early middle ages?
Then that drink might have developped nevertheless when the boiling boys kick in ...
Well modern ales come with hops, so. And anyway if the discovery of boiling doesn't occur until the middle ages it's too late to have any effect on European drinking habits.
 
It's hard to say, but probably not as much as we would think. From analysis of latrine contents it seems that the big issue was parasite load, not so much waterborne diseases. We can only speculate how much it would do for people's health.
I must admit that I'm honestly surprised that waterborn parasites can stand boiling water while viruses and bacteria die.
 
I must admit that I'm honestly surprised that waterborn parasites can stand boiling water while viruses and bacteria die.
What would lead you to that conclusion? It's far more likely that it simply reflects prevalence. It looks like there wasn't that much of Montezuma's revenge around, compared to other nasties. In the last book I read, they were completely uncertain why, but it's not an unknown phenomenon. bacteria have their own ecology, and under some circumstances they don't thrive.
 
Well this isn't necessarily true. For one thing the Roman wealthy probably didn't know they had safe water as such, and they might well have felt they were risking less by drinking wine whenever possible. Plus, getting drunk is pretty damned fun, and wine is tasty.

I thought they used Lead water pipes? hasn't archeaology proven it wasn't safe at all?
 
I thought they used Lead water pipes? hasn't archeaology proven it wasn't safe at all?
Only pressurised systems used lead, all other conduits were either pottery or masonry. A vanishingly small number of Romans would have drunk water from lead pipes (lead cooking vessels are another story).
 
Well modern ales come with hops, so. And anyway if the discovery of boiling doesn't occur until the middle ages it's too late to have any effect on European drinking habits.
No, the boiling was around long before the medieval period. And the addition of hops dates from around the 8th century or possibly earlier in Germany. From there it spread to other places during the middle ages. Up until that point people just used other things to flavor their boiled fermented barley water, like spruce tips, spices and herbs, etc. Such a concoction is called gruit, and is still made by many homebrewers today. There are even a limited number of commercial brews out there which are done this way. Skagway Brewing makes one, for example and so does Steamworks. Just to name two; there are others.

-TJ, home brewer (medieval and modern) and import/microbrew connoisseur :cool:
 
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