A belated birthday to Eva Ekeblad. On Monday, she turned 293 years old.
Those who are Celiacs or simply think gluten-free foods are healthier, as well as those who may enjoy a splash of good vodka now and then, really ought to know who Ekeblad was.
Eva Ekeblad ( July 1724 – May 1786) was a Swedish salonist and countess, as well as agronomist and scientist. She was widely known for discovering a method in 1746 to make flour from potatoes, which allowed for the first opportunity for gluten-free baking.
Potatoes had been introduced into Sweden in 1658, but had been cultivated only in the greenhouses of the aristocracy. Ekeblad’s work turned potatoes into a staple food in Sweden, and increased the supply of wheat, rye and barley available for making bread, since potatoes could be used instead to make alcohol. This greatly improved the country’s eating habits and reduced the frequency of famines.
She also discovered how to make alcohol from potatoes, which gave way to the invention of potato vodka and eventually moonshine.
Ekeblad was the first female member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences — though never considered a full member because of her gender.
In 1746, Ekeblad wrote to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on her discoveries of how to make flour and alcohol out of potatoes. In 1748, Eva Ekeblad became the first woman elected to Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. There are no records of her ever having participated in the meetings of the Academy. In 1751, the Academy came to refer to her as an honorary rather than a full member, as the statutes confined membership to men.
Ekeblad also discovered a method of bleaching cotton textile and yarn with soap in 1751, and. a year later, of replacing the dangerous ingredients in cosmetics of the time by using potato flour; she is said to have advertised the plant by using its flowers as hair ornaments.
Millions of people today can enjoy gluten-free pasta and breads along with a bit of Grey Goose thanks to the discoveries of Ekeblad and her work with the potato. For that, she deserves an attawaytogo and happy-birthday toast from us.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Nearly every great discovery in science has come as the result of providing a new question rather than a new answer.” (Paul A. Meglitsch)