Noticed today’s Google Doodle yet, and wondered what potatoes are doing in it?  Born on July 10, 1724, Eva Ekeblad was probably only second to Jesus in making alcohol (remember Jesus went to a wedding and turned water into wine?).

Eva was a Swedish agronomist, scientist, salonist and noble (Countess) and today is apparently her 293rd birthday that Google is celebrating with a doodle in her memory.

Eva Ekeblad
Eva Ekeblad (Pic by Aajtak)

She was the first woman who could extract starch out of potatoes and make flour out of them too, so she also became the first woman to enter the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, she was the daughter of statesman, Count Magnus Julius De la Gardie and amateur politician and salonist Hedvig Catharina Lilje.

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She is also the woman who gave this world the benefit of gluten-free baking and production of alcohol such as potato wine and vodka.

It was actually only a few decades before Eva’s birth that potatoes reached Sweden in 1658. And for the first decade, it was only available for the aristocracy and weren’t considered edible by humans. Hence, potatoes that are a universal favourite today were only consumed by animals in the late 1600s in Sweden.

As potatoes weren’t easily available, Ekeblad started growing her own set of potatoes and started experimenting with them. She had heard that in Germany, potatoes were used to make alcohol. This led her to continue her research, and in 1746, she discovered that potatoes can be cooked, crushed and dried to make flour out of it. She was only 24, when Ekeblad discovered this.

The timing of Ekeblad’s discovery was quite topical for her country as Sweden was facing rice and barley deficit. This led people to use potatoes instead, but it also raised the countrymen’s alcohol consumption levels.

After her death in 1786, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences did not take a woman in until 1951, almost 165 years.

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