You could purchase the blend in markets or from apothecaries, or make it. Many of the cookbooks called for it, but assumed you knew what it was and how to mix it up. It’s not entirely sure whether “fine” meant “very good, desirable” or “finely ground.”
All recipes extant for it seem to have cinnamon, cloves and ginger in common, but pepper, saffron and nutmeg were also common.
Occasionally recipes called for as well coriander, galangal, grains of paradise, long pepper, mace, nutmeg, pepper, ground bay or malabathron leaf, saffron, and sugar.
It would be different by region, by who made it, and of course it would have also evolved over time.
Some think Fine Powder might have been the same as “powder douce” (aka “sweet powder”), and that it definitely contained cinnamon, cloves, ginger and grains of paradise, as well as sugar. That being said, there definitely are separate recipes for it that aren’t sweet at all, and “Le Menagier de Paris” referred to Fine Powder as “Pouldre [sic] fine”, not “douce.”
In Spain, Fine Powder seems to have been referred to as a “salsa.”
Here’s one interpretation of Fine Powder:
3 tablespoons of ginger
1 ½ tablespoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon of any or several of the following: bay leaf (ground), coriander, galangal, grains of paradise, long pepper, mace, nutmeg, pepper.
- Pinch of saffron
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
Grind all separately (or buy ground), then mix.