Posted by: internationalroutier | May 16, 2011

Forgotten Foods. Anyone for Ambergris?

Those of us who practice the 17thC culinary arts will probably have come across the mention of Ambergris in a recipe or 2 and wondered what to use as a replacement. Has always between a bit of joke really- got any whale vomit/spit/snot? Well, shiver me timbers, apparently one need not search for a replacement any longer, just pop along to and add some to the shopping cart.


Selling ambergris is illegal in Australia, sadly for this bloke, not sure about the buying side of the transaction though. At $25USD per gram, the exchange rate would make it more affordable than ever though 🙂

Ken Albala, food historian, makes a 1662 Italian recipe for Ambergris Sauce here.

Lord Conway’s Ambergris Puddings (1655) are a sweet pudding mix cooked and served inside an intestine much like a sausage.


First take the Guts of a young hog, and wash them very clean, and then take two pound of the best hogs fat, and a pound and a halfe of the best Jordan almonds the which being blancht, take one half of them, & beat them very small, and the other halfe reserve whole unbeaten then take a pound and a halfe of fine Sugar and four white Loaves, and grate the Loaves over the former composition and mingle them well together in a bason having so done, put to it halfe an ounce of Ambergreece the which must be scrapt very small over the said composition take halfe a quarter of an ounce of levant musk and bruise it in a marble morter, with a quarter of a Pint of Orange Flower water then mingle these all very well together, and having so done, fill the said Guts ther­with, this Receipt was given his Lordship by an Italian for a great rariety, and has been found so to be by those Ladies of honour to whom his Lordship has imparted the said reception.

From: W.M., The Queen’s Closet Opened (London: 1655)

Opinions vary as to the best comparison for the taste of ambergris. I have read violets, vanilla, orange blossom, musk…obviously it plays to that perfumed/floral end of the taste spectrum that these days we pretty much only get if we eat something with rosewater in it.

No whales were harmed in the creation of this post.



  1. […] area of the Green Band which gives great scope for further exploring the comforts of civilian life. Food and drink are two areas that we’ve really just started to try. We know they sometimes stayed […]

  2. […] Ambergris Sauce – 17th Century Hollandaise as seen on Ken Albala’s Food […]

  3. […] Did you ever get an email with such an eye catching title that you just had to open it to find out more?  Yesterday I got one that pleaded for my help in ending the use of whale vomit in perfumes.  I just had to read it…I mean, who in the world would think of adding whale vomit to their next batch of perfume?  Well, apparently Ambergris (AKA whale vomit) is a common ingredient in many brands of perfume!  According to the definition in Wikipedia, it is ” a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull gray or blackish color produced in the digestive system of and regurgitated or secreted by sperm whales.”  Yeah, like that sounds like something you would want to put into perfume, right?  Well, even more concerning is that ambergris is also occasionally used in several types of food! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: