On 293rd birthday, Google honours Eva Ekeblad,the Swedish scientist who discovered vodka

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New Delhi: Eva Ekeblad was a Swedish noble and agronomist who discovered how to extract starch from potatoes, paving the way for gluten-free baking and alcohols such as vodka, moonshine and potato wine.

She was the first woman to be admitted to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for her discovery of how to use potatoes to make flour and alcohol. Today on her 293rd birthday anniversary, Google celebrated Ekeblad birthday by creating a Doodle in her honour.

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In 1746, Ekeblad discovered that the rare vegetables could be cooked, crushed and dried to create a form of flour. She grew her own set of potatoes and began experimenting, after having heard that in Germany it had been used to create alcoholic drinks.

Potatoes first arrived in Sweden in 1658, but for a century would only be available to the aristocracy. Before Ekeland's discovery, potatoes weren't considered to be edible for humans, but were only reserved for animals.

Although, there was talk among men who had visited other countries that it was possible to use potatoes to make vodka but no one figured out how to accomplish this until Ekeblad.

At the age of 24 she submitted her findings to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and became the first female to receive the honour and the honour was not bestowed on another woman for the another 203 years after her death in 1786.

It came at a time when Sweden had a shortage of cereals, such as oats and barley, which were necessary for the country's food and alcohol supplies. That time Eva’s discovery 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. Her work greatly improved the country's eating habits and reduced the frequency of famines.

Around the same time it rose to prominence in British cooking and underpinned economic progress and the Industrial Revolution.  Eva also discovered a method of bleaching cotton textile & yarn with soap in 1751. Replacing the dangerous ingredients in cosmetics of the time by using potato flour; she is even said to have advertised the plant by using its flowers as hair ornaments.

Even after 230 years since her death, Ekeblad’s work with potatoes continues to play a role in Sweden. They remain a major part of Swedes’ diets and potato vodka is popular in the country and around the world. According to Wine Magazine, potato vodka can be described as having a “pleasantly creamy or oily texture.” Karlsson’s Gold Vodka, a Swedish brand, is made with potatoes from Cape Bjare.

There are other potato vodkas made outside Sweden. Wood Creek Colorado Vodka is made with Colorado potatoes and there’s also Grand Teton Potato Vodka made in Idaho. Historically, Sweden is considered one of the “vodka belt” countries, along with Russia, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltic States and other Scandinavian countries.

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