One of our favourite miracles from the Bible is when Jesus Christ went to a wedding and turned water into wine. Well, Eva Ekeblad, a Swedish countess and agronomist, came a close second to that when she made vodka from potatoes.
On Ekebald’s 293rd birthday today, Google has created a doodle to commemorate her contributions to science.
Ekeblad, who was born on June 10, 1724, in Sweden, was the first woman to gain admission to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences after she found out how to extract starch from potatoes and, subsequently, how to make flour and alcohol out of potatoes. Her work resulted in gluten-free baking and production of alcohols such as potato wine and vodka.
A report in The Telegraph reveals that back then potatoes weren’t considered fit for human consumption and were given only to animals. However, Ekebald began to grow potatoes for experimentation. She had come to know that Germany used the legume to produce alcoholic drinks. In 1746, she understood that these vegetables could be cooked, dried and crushed to create a kind of flour fit for consumption by humans.
Although her discovery led to a rise in alcohol consumption among the Swedish, it nonetheless is believed to be fundamental as at the time Sweden was going through a shortage of cereals like barley and oats..
Ekeblad died in 1786, and it was almost after two centuries, that is in 1951, that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences elected another woman.