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Mead and beer are ceremonial and traditional drinks. Mead, midus is the oldest and noblest drink, served during banquets and special occasions. Travelers and chroniclers wrote about the manufacture and use of mead by Lithuanians and Prussians as early as the eleventh century. Good conditions existed to make mead because Lithuanians since early times took honey from wild bees in tree hollows. Today people have several hives on their farmsteads, to satisfy their family needs. Mead ten or more years old was the landlord’s pride, for mead’s quality increases with age.

Often to celebrate the birth of a child, the father made a batch of mead. This batch was kept and aged until the child’s wedding.

There was a time when mead took second place to vodka. However about 30 years ago there was a revival and mead was made again, using ancient recipes. Mead is again found on holiday tables, together with songs about mead and its traditions.

Beer has been brewed in Lithuania since ancient times and even today is a popular, traditional drink. It is always brewed for family celebrations, feast days, barn raisings and funerals. Beer is brewed from sprouted barley malt. The most popular malt beer is made in Central and North Eastern Lithuania, where a strong beer is popular. In Samogitia, eemaitija, beer is brewed using dried bread, hops and sugar. Most often the man of the house brews his own beer. However, for special occasions, to brew extra good beer, a well known brew master is hired. During festivities, the brew master’s other job is to make sure that pitchers are always full.

The making of home made wine in Lithuania was begun at the beginning of the twentieth century. Most wine was made in the South Western region, Suvalkija, from forest and orchard fruits and berries.

Another ancient drink is made from birch and maple sap, collected in early spring. Sap is drunk fresh and fermented for summer drinking.

To satisfy thirst, Lithuanians brew a semi sour drink, gira – kvass.

Much appreciated from ancient times are linden, thyme, caraway seed, mint, raspberry, strawberry, camomile, dill seed and other herb teas, which not only refresh but also have healing properties.



True mead is made with natural, light honey. In Lithuania and neighboring countries home made mead varies because of different seasonings used. LITHUANIAN MEAD

Lietuviðkas midus

10 k (20 lbs) honey

10 l (10 qts) water

1cup dried hops

1 tablespoon dried juniper berries

8 teaspoons wine yeast

Pour honey into stainless steel or enameled pot, cover with spring water, mix well and bring to a boil on low heat. Place hops and juniper berries into a linen bag and drop into boiling honey-water solution. Skim off scum and continue to boil until no more scum forms, about 1/2 hour. Cool solution to 85F/30C, add yeast, mix well and pour mixture into a glass carboy. Close bottle with cork, run a small hose or glass tube through the cork, one end of which is placed in a jar with water. This will allow the release of fermentation gases. Keep the fermenting carboy in a warm spot for about 3 weeks. As fermentation comes to an end, a deposit will form at the bottom of the carboy, decant mead into another carboy, stopper and keep at same warm temperature for about 3 months. Decant again and pour into an oak barrel. Close barrel and set in a cool spot. To obtain strong mead, age up to 5 years. CARAWAY TEA

Kmynø arbata

1 tablespoon caraway seed

1 cup water

sugar to taste

Pour hot water over caraway seed, boil for 5-10 minutes, then let infuse for several minutes. Strain and pour into cups, add sugar to taste. LINDEN BLOSSOM TEA

Liepþiedþiø arbata

15 linden blossom branches

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons raspberry preserves

2 cups water

Cover linden blossoms with boiling water and boil for 3-5 minutes. Strain, add honey and preserves and mix well. This tea is drunk on bitterly cold days and at bedtime. ACORN COFFEE

Giliø kava

1 l (1 quart) acorns

1 l (1 quart) milk

Dry freshly picked acorns at room temperature for a couple of days. Shell and cook in milk until soft, about 45-60 minutes. Remove acorns from milk and blot dry, saute in a dry skillet until golden brown. Grind scorched acorns and store in a tight container.

To make acorn coffee, take 1 part water, 2 parts sweet cream or milk. Place 3 teaspoons acorn coffee in boiling water, boil 2-3 minutes, whiten with milk or cream and add sugar to taste CARROT COFFEE

Morkø kava

1/2 k (1 lb) carrots, peeled and grated

1 l (1 quart) water

1 cup sweet cream

sugar to taste

Spread grated carrots on baking sheet and dry in oven, at low heat until carrot gratings turn dark brown, but are not burned. Cover dried carrots with hot water, boil for 5 minutes, remove from heat and let infuse for several minutes. Strain, warm if it has cooled, pour into cups, whiten with cream, sugar to taste.

Store dried carrots in a tightly covered container, so that they are always at hand when desire for carrot coffee arises. BREAD KVASS

Duonos gira

1/2 k (1 lb) dried, black rye bread

5 l (5 quarts) water

20 g (4 teaspoons) yeast

1 cup raisins

Cover bread with boiling water and let sit for 24 hours. Strain, add yeast blended with sugar, and remaining sugar, mix well and let ferment for 1-2 days in a warm spot.

Pour fermented liquid into glass bottles, add several raisins
to each bottle and close tightly. Store in a cool place.

Kvass is ready to drink the next day. It will be drinkable for up to 2 months, if kept in a cold spot. CARAWAY SEED KVASS

Kmynø gira

2 cups caraway seed

5 l (5 quarts) water

1/2 k (1 lb) sugar

1 cup raisins

20 g (4 teaspoons) yeast

Cover caraway seed with cold water and boil for 15-20 minutes. Strain, add sugar and cool to 105F/40C. Add proofed yeast, raisins. Set in a warm spot to ferment for 2 days. Pour into bottles, close tightly and keep in cold place. This will be ready in 2-3 days. BARLEY KVASS

Mieþiø gira

1 k (2 lbs) barley; 1/2 k (1 lb) sugar

20 g (1 cup) dried hops

5 l (5 quarts) water

20 g (4 teaspoons) yeast

Saute barley in skillet until golden brown. Pour barley into a pot, cover with cold water, add hops and cook for 30 minutes. Strain, mix in sugar, cool and add proofed yeast. Let ferment in a warm spot for 48 hours. Pour fermented liquid into bottles, close bottles and store in a cool place. Barley kvass tastes best when 3 days old. CRANBERRY KVASS

Spanguoliø gira

1 k (2 lbs) cranberries

1 k (2 lbs) sugar

20 g (4 teaspoons) yeast

5 l (5 quarts) water

Pour sugar and cranberries into a pot, cover with water and cook for 10 minutes. Put everything through a food mill and wash down pulp with berry juice. Cool and add proofed yeast, mix well. Set in a warm spot to ferment, for 3 days.

Cranberry kvass is drunk right away or poured into bottles and stored in a cool place. HONEY KVASS

Medaus gira

1/2 l (2 cups) honey

5 l (5 quarts) water

20 g (4 teaspoons) yeast

1 cup raisins

juice of 2 lemons

Place honey in hot, boiled water, stir until honey melts. Cool. Add proofed yeast and let ferment for 24 hours in a warm place, until liquid begins to foam. Remove scum, add raisins and lemon juice. Pour into bottles and store in cool place.

Honey kvass is brewed for weddings and other festivities. BEET PUDDING

Burokëliø kisielius

2 cups beet juice, made from raw beets

2 l (2 quarts) water

4 tablespoons potato starch

1/2 vanilla bean

2 lemons

Dissolve starch in 1 cup cold water. Bring remaining water to a boil, mix in starch solution, vanilla bean, sugar, beet juice, juice of 1 lemon. Bring mixture to a boil.

Remove from heat, pour pudding into a glass pitcher, add thinly sliced lemon and let cool.

Beet pudding has not only a beautiful, rosy color but a very distinctive taste. TREE SAP


Towards the end of March, before leaves appear, maples and birches are tapped for their sap. Maple trees are tapped more often because their sap is much sweeter than birch sap. FERMENTED TREE SAP

Rauginta sula

Fill a wooden barrel with maple or birch sap. For extra flavor add black currant, cherry or birch branches. Cover top with oats. Oats are light and remain on the surface and sprout creating a 5 cm/2 inches thick cover. This method of covering the sap creates a flavorful fermentation. Such fermented sap can be kept for several months in a cool place and be available to satisfy summer thirst. Cut a round opening in the oat cover to allow a ladle to enter the barrel. Replace the cut out round when enough drink has been ladled. POPPY SEED MILK

Aguonø pienas

1 cup poppy seed

1 l (1 quart) water

1/2 cup sugar

Process poppy seed in food processor until a thick mass is formed. Using a meat grinder it will take 2 grindings of scalded poppy seeds to make a thick mass. Pour boiled but chilled water over poppy seed mass, add sugar and mix well.

Poppy milk is served with cookies, and used in soups and drinks. It is also served with oat pudding and Christmas biscuits. HEMP SEED MILK

Kanapiø pienas

1/2 l (2 cups) hemp seed

1 l (1 quart) boiled water

salt to taste

pinch of pepper

Saute hemp seed in skillet until crisp. Process seed in food processor or grind in meat grinder until powdery. Pour powdered hemp seed into hot, boiled water, add salt and pepper and mix well.

Both poppy and hemp seed milks are used in place of cow’s milk, especially during times of fasting or during winter when there is a shortage of regular milk.


Kepiniai ir saldumynai

Lithuanian people do not have a sweet tooth. Baked goods and sweets are not a part of daily eating. However each homemaker does her very best to be creative and to pamper the family especially during holidays and special occasions. Formerly, for holidays and weddings a variety of cakes, cookies and sweet rolls was baked. Tables were laden with beautifully decorated, delicious masterpieces. At wedding receptions, all eyes would be on the “karvojus“, a large wedding tart which was decorated with a variety of dough birds and animals. Earlier all cakes and dainties were baked by the homemaker herself or a person, famous for her culinary prowess would be hired.

At the beginning of this century, many new foods came to Lithuania, among them tortes and the famous baumkuchen from Germany, which now is a must for every special occasion.

Today Lithuanian homemakers have many recipes for all occasions. Most popular baked goods are made commercially from recipes based on traditional and newly arrived sweets.

However, the most appreciated baked goods are homemade and for this reason each homemaker is intent on creating recipes which will awe everyone and will please her family.HOLIDAY YEAST CAKE

Šventinis pyragas

1 k (2

1/2 cup milk

4 teaspoons fresh yeast

2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons butter

3 eggs; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dissolve yeast in sweetened, warm milk, sift in half of the flour, mix well. Sprinkle top of batter with flour and let rest in warm spot for 2-3 hours, until batter has doubled. Add remaining flour, salt and egg yolks beaten with sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Beat egg whites and fold into dough. Add melted butter and knead dough until it is no longer sticky. Cover and set in warm spot for another rising. Place dough into a round, greased baking pan, let rise one more time. Brush top with egg wash and bake in preheated oven at 375F/190C, for about 1 hour. POPPY SEED CAKE

Pyragas su aguonomis

1 k (2 lbs) flour; 1 1/2 cup milk

4 egg yolks; 1 whole egg

50 g (2 oz) fresh yeast; 6 tablespoons sugar


300 g (10 oz) poppy seed; 150 g (5 oz) sugar

1 egg; 4 tablespoons finely chopped nuts,

filberts or walnuts; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

50 g (4 tablespoons) candied orange peel,

finely chopped

Make dough with 1/3 flour, warm milk and yeast dissolved in sweetened warm milk. Blend all ingredients well, sprinkle top of dough with flour and let rest in a warm spot. 2 hours later, add remaining flour, salt and egg yolks beaten with sugar. Mix well, and knead dough until smooth and elastic. Let rest for a second rising.

Blend poppy seeds to a paste in food processor or blender. Mix poppy seed with nuts, orange peel, egg beaten with sugar and vanilla. Mix all ingredients.

Divide dough into two pieces. Roll out each piece on floured surface, spread filling evenly over each piece and roll up as for a jellyroll. Place each on a lightly greased baking sheet, let rest for another rising. Paint with egg wash and bake in preheated oven at 375F/190C, for about 45 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool covered with linen cloth, so that the cake does not dry out.BUCKWHEAT YEAST CAKE

Grikinis pyragas

1 k (2 lbs) buckwheat flour

1 l (4 cups) milk; 50 g (2 oz) fresh yeast

2 eggs; 100 g (3 oz; 6 t) butter


Cream butter and sugar until light, add eggs beaten with milk and a pinch salt, add flour and yeast mixed with sugar. Blend all ingredients and beat dough until spongy. Place dough into a greased, round baking pan, let rest in a warm spot until dough has risen, about 1 hour. Bake in preheated oven at 350F/180C, for about 1 hour.

This is a holiday bread, best when fresh.HOLIDAY BABA

Šventinė boba

15 egg yolks; 1 cup sugar; 2 cups milk

100 g (6 tablespoons) fresh yeast

1 cup butter; 1 cup sour cream

1 cup raisins; 5 cups flour

2 teaspoons vanilla extract; salt


3 egg whites; 3 cups powdered sugar

juice of 1 lemon; 1 cup butter

1/2 cup chocolate; 1 cup ground filberts

Blend yeast with 1/4 cup sugar and dissolve in warm milk. Add 1 cup flour, beat well and let rest in warm spot for about 30-45 minutes. Beat egg yolks with remaining sugar until yolks are pale yellow. Add remaining flour to eggs and yeast mixture, mix well. Add melted, chilled butter, raisins, sour cream and pinch of salt, blend all until a soft dough is formed. Cover dough and let rise for 1-2 hours. Beat dough again and set in warm spot for another rising. Grease a high sided cake pan, sprinkle with bread crumbs, place dough into baking pan, not more than 1/3 full. Let rise and when doubled bake in preheated oven at 375F/190C, about 1 hour.

To make white icing cream egg whites with powdered sugar and lemon juice. For chocolate icing melt butter, add chocolate and heat on low heat until chocolate melts.

When baba is done, let cool in baking pan. Remove from pan and decorate with white icing, then dribble slightly cooled chocolate on top of white icing, allow chocolate to run down sides. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top.

Baba is a must for Easter, weddings and other special occasions. WEDDING CAKE

Svočios karvojus

1 1/2 k (3 lbs) flour; 1 1/2 cups milk

4 tablespoons fresh yeast; 10 egg yolks

2 cups butter; 2 cups sugar

3 cups raisins; 3 teaspoons vanilla extract



3 egg whites; 3 cups powdered sugar

Warm milk and add yeast blended with 1 cup sugar and a third of flour. Blend well and let rise in warm spot. Beat egg yolks with remaining sugar and vanilla until pale yellow and add to risen yeast dough, blend well. Add melted, cooled butter and remaining flour and pinch of salt. Knead dough until small blisters form. Add raisins, incorporate well into dough. Cover dough, set in warm spot and let rise for 1-2 hours. Take 3/4 dough, form a round shape, place on greased baking sheet. Let rise. With remaining dough make a braid and place it around the round dough shape. On top, in the center, make circles by pressing a glass into dough and stick many wooden sticks into the top. Bake in preheated oven at 400F/200C, about 1 1/2 hours. When the tart is done, decorate with icing, remove sticks and in their place insert dough birds, stars dusted with powdered sugar or covered with icing. Just before leaving for the wedding feast, fill remaining holes with branches of rue and other flowers.

This tart is an important part of the marriage ritual.WEDDING TWIST

Vestuvinė riestė

1 k (2 lbs) flour; 100 g (3 oz) fresh yeast

1 cup milk; 5 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups sugar; 1 1/2 cups butter

2 cups raisins; 2 teaspoons vanilla extract



3 egg whites; 3 cups powdered sugar

juice of 1 lemon

Warm milk, add yeast blended with 1/2 cup
sugar. Mix well. Add one third of flour to yeast and blend well and let rise in a warm spot. Beat egg yolks with remaining sugar, vanilla until pale yellow, add to yeast mixture, mix well. Chill melted butter and incorporate into yeast mixture, mix well, add remaining flour and salt and knead until small blisters form. Add raisins and incorporate into dough. Cover dough, let rise in warm spot for 2 hours. Form a figure 8 with dough, place on greased baking sheet. To keep figure 8 during next rising, insert heat resistant, round forms. Let rise for 1/2 hour, then bake in preheated oven at 350F/160C, for about 1 hour. Cool on baking sheet, then cover thickly with icing.

This is another traditional wedding cake, also known as the cake of the matron of honor, which she decorates with live flowers, rue and viburnum berries. The matron will sometimes place bottles of sweet wine, inside the figure 8, bedecked with ribbons and flowers.HONEY CAKES


Honey cakes are made with honey. They must be of a dark color, which is obtained when honey is boiled or by adding burnt sugar to the batter. Sour cream or sour milk are used to give sponginess to honey cakes and baking soda is used as a leavening agent. The taste of honey cakes depends on quantity and assortment of flavorings used. The seasonings used most often and quantities are: 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ground allspice, 4 teaspoons ground cloves, 1 tablespoon powdered orange peel and 4 teaspoons ground ginger.

The special quality of honey cakes is that they taste better when aged.SOFT HONEY CAKE

Minkštas meduolis

1/2 k (1 lb) honey; 1/2 k (1 lb) flour

3 eggs; 1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons seasoning

Boil honey on low heat, about 10 minutes, cool. Cream egg yolks with sugar and add to honey, add seasonings and mix well. Add melted butter, sour cream beaten with soda and flour. Blend all ingredients and fold in beaten egg whites. Pour batter into baking pan lined with greased paper. Bake in preheated oven at 325F/160C, for about 30-45 minutes. Cool cake in baking pan. HONEY MUSHROOMS

Meduoliai grybukai

1/2 k (1 lb) flour; 2 egg yolks

1 whole egg; 3 tablespoons butter

1 cup honey; 1 cup sugar; 1 teaspoon baking soda

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