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.

Distillation method of separating mixtures based on differences in volatility of components in a boiling liquid mixture

Distillation is the process of separating the components or substances from a liquid mixture by using selective boiling and condensation. Distillation may result in essentially complete separation, or it may be a partial separation that increases the concentration of selected components in the mixture. In either case, the process exploits differences in the relative volatility of the mixture's components. In industrial chemistry, distillation is a unit operation of practically universal importance, but it is a physical separation process, not a chemical reaction.

Great house Large and stately residence

A great house is a large house or mansion with luxurious appointments and great retinues of indoor and outdoor staff.

Castle Fortified residential structure of medieval Europe

A castle is a type of fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble. This is distinct from a palace, which is not fortified; from a fortress, which was not always a residence for royalty or nobility; and from a fortified settlement, which was a public defence – though there are many similarities among these types of construction. Usage of the term has varied over time and has been applied to structures as diverse as hill forts and country houses. Over the approximately 900 years that castles were built, they took on a great many forms with many different features, although some, such as curtain walls, arrowslits, and portcullises, were commonplace.

Contents

Original purposes

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.

Medicine The science and practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of physical and mental illnesses

Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.

Cosmetics substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body

Cosmetics are substances or products used to enhance or alter the appearance of the face or fragrance and texture of the body. Many cosmetics are designed for use of applying to the face and body. They are generally mixtures of chemical compounds; some being derived from natural sources, and many synthetic or artificial. Cosmetics that are applied to the face to enhance one's appearance are often called make-up or makeup. Common make-up items include: lipstick, mascara, eye shadow, foundation, blush, and bronzer. Other common cosmetics include skin cleansers, body lotions, shampoo and conditioner, hairstyling products, perfume and cologne.

Beer alcoholic drink

Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drinks in the world. It is also the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. Beer is brewed from cereal grains—most commonly from malted barley, though wheat, maize (corn), and rice are also used. During the brewing process, fermentation of the starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation in the resulting beer. Most modern beer is brewed with hops, which add bitterness and other flavours and act as a natural preservative and stabilizing agent. Other flavouring agents such as gruit, herbs, or fruits may be included or used instead of hops. In commercial brewing, the natural carbonation effect is often removed during processing and replaced with forced carbonation.

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 of fashion for high-born women, the still room became the province of poor dependent relations.

Later uses

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.

A housekeeper is an individual responsible for the supervision of a house's cleaning staff.

Cook (domestic worker) food-prepating domestic worker

A cook or private chef is a household staff member responsible for food preparation.

The still-room maid is a female servant who works in the still room, the functional room in a great house in which drinks and jams are made. The still-room maid is a junior servant, and as a member of the between staff, reports to both the housekeeper and the cook.

If beverages were not dispensed from food service counters, then the design of commercial kitchens in hotels and restaurants traditionally included a still room where tea, coffee and other beverages were prepared and dispensed. These would be located immediately adjacent to hotel lounges. Central in the still room would be a gas or electric water boiler and separate coffee brewers. Crockery, tea pots and coffee pots would also be stored here. Popular British manufacturers of commercial water boilers included Jacksons and Stotts of Oldham. Another famous British manufacturer of high efficiency beverage water boilers was W.M.Still Ltd whose boilers would be found in still rooms but their product was named after its proprietor and not after the word still room. [4]

Notes

  1. 1 2 Alchin, L.K. (20 March 2012). "Elizabethan Food Preservation". Elizabethan Era. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  2. Heise, Jennifer (1997). "On the Medieval and Renaissance Use of Herbs". Jadwiga's Stillroom Book. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  3. Alchin, L.K. (20 July 2012). "Medieval Women". AncientFortresses. Archived from the original on 29 October 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  4. Michael Swerdlow


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