Poppy milk: A Lithuanian drink for Christmas Eve

Poppy Milk

The anaesthetic drink in Game of Thrones and a Christmas drink in Lithuania

Poppy milk is drunk in Lithuania as one of their twelve dishes served on Christmas Eve (twelve for the twelve apostles), and also features as a painkiller and anaesthetic in the HBO series Game of Thrones in latex form under the name ‘milk of the poppy’. I decided to try making innoxious poppy milk by following a recipe from Feast of Fiction (whose blog post no longer exists) but did it with as little water as possible to make my ‘milk’ as undiluted as possible, and by grinding instead of blending. The process may be simple but the amount of ‘milk’ you get is minute compared to the time it takes for you to get it.

  1.   I soaked half a cup of poppy seeds in warm water overnight. Leaving them in the water for longer makes the seeds softer and easier to ground later on.
  2.   I strained the poppy seeds with a tiny sieve. I kept half of the poppy seed flavoured water for later use.
  3.   I ground the poppy seeds with a pestle and mortar. The white liquid oozing out from the black seeds is the ‘milk’.
  4.   I scraped the seeds from the mortar onto the muslin cloth, to strain them. I squeezed the seeds in muslin cloth to squeeze the ‘milk’ out – this is quicker than letting the liquid drip into the jug.
  5.   I poured what precious ‘milk’ I had into a little jar, to prevent the liquid from evaporating away.
  6.   I spooned the poppy seeds back into the mortar and began the grounding then straining process again. I repeated this 3 times. After the third straining I had filled up half my little jar. So you see every drop is precious.
  7.   I cleared away the equipment after I realised the seeds would yield no more ‘milk’. I poured the ‘milk’ from the jar into a little glass and added to it one drop of almond extract, a very small pinch of golden caster sugar, and a splash of the poppy seed flavoured water (left over from step 1). More can be added, if you want a more diluted mixture. I then dipped a stirrer into a jar of pale honey before using it to stir the drink. The poppy taste is quite strong and was unlike anything I’d tasted before. I only got a taste, since the only way you’re going to get a cup of the stuff is if you drink with a thimble.
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