Final Isabella Cortese Update

September 27, 2016 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

Here is the last in my series of stain removal recipes from I secreti de la signora Isabella Cortese translated into English with Google Translate and then edited to fine-tune the initial rough translation.

Levar macchie d’ogni drappo e d’ogni colore. Cap. 61.

Piglia libra mezza di mele crudo, un rosso d’ovo fresco, quanto una noce, e sale armoniaco, incorpora ben insieme, e di ciò ne metti sopra le macchie di panni di seta d’ogni colore, lasciandolo sopra per un pezzo,& andrà via la macchia, lavandola poi co acqua fresca, lasciala asciugare.

To remove spots of every cloth, and of every color. Cap. 61.

Take half a pound of raw apple, a red fresh egg, as a walnut, and salt armoniaco*, incorporated well together, and put it on the stained cloth,  of silk cloths of every color, leaving it on for a while, & the stain will go away, then washing it with fresh water, let dry.

* Quanto is translating as “as much as” or “how much”. I wonder if perhaps the intention was to say as much salt ammoniac as is the size of a walnut? Certainly a fresh egg or half a pound of apples would not need specification as to the size (unless they either have very large (unhusked walnut) or very small (husked walnut) eggs.)

a cavar macchie di raso e di veluto

Fa bollire la semola nel sugo di bietola & poi con quella acqua lava la macchia

To remove stains of satin and of velvet

Boil the flour in the sauce of beets/chard** and then with the water washes the stain

** Google Translate renders bietola as “beets” when part of the sentence, and as “chard” or “swiss chard” when entered in isolation. It’s not clear which was meant, but I have seen references to beets in other recipes, so I went with that as the initial translation. In case that seems an odd choice because of the red color modern people associate with beets, remember that most beet varieties at this point were white beets.

a cavar macchie

Un boccale d’acqua comune, sapone negro, sal alcali an marchetti due, un fiele di bue, mistica ben insieme, che ben s’incorpori, e di quello lava la macchie.

To remove stains

A common water jug, black soap, alkali salt* an marchetti two, one ox gall, mix well together that is well incorporated, and that washes the stains.

* a recipe is given in another part of the manuscript for sal alcali, but I haven’t fully figured out a sensible translation yet: sal alcali si sol far di piu cose, cioe di cenere di cocomeri asinini, cio della sue radici della piata, e delle frutta, brugiate e fatte in cenere & ancora a cenere del guado, cenere delle fusti di fave, cenere di felice, cenere di cavoli vecchi, cenere di titimaglio, cenere della squilla, cenere dell’herba sal sola, della quale si fa la cenere di vetro, e la detta cenere si dissolve in acqua comune, distillasi per feltro, e congelasi tre, o quatro volte, & e fatto.

alkali salt
alkali salt sol do more things, i.e. cucumbers donkey ash (????), ie the roots of the piata, and fruit, and burn to ashes and again the woad ashes, ashes of bean stalks, ashes of happy, ash of old cabbage, titimaglio of ash, ash of rings, ash of herbs salt alone, which makes the glass ash, and said ash is dissolved in ordinary water, distill for felt, and congelasi (possibly freeze?) three or four times, & it’s done.


sugo di saponaria con altrotanto sapone negro fa l’effetto


Equal parts sauce of soapwort and black soap is the effect.


piglia della soda, e mettila in sul fuoco de carboni soffiando con li mantici tanto che diventi bianca ben bene, della quale & pesta e fa bollire in una caraffa d’acqua comune, e con quella lava la macchia, & poi rischiara, con l’acqua fresca, e sera fatto   

Take the soda, and put it on the fire of coals by blowing them with bellows so much that it becomes very fine white, of which pound and boil it in a jug of common water, and with that wash the stain, and then clear with fresh water, and evening make.




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