Sowans is a gruel or porridge-like Celtic dish that once was made a great deal in both Scotland and Ireland.
It was seen as food for the poor, but it was nutritious, and it was traditional on St Brigit’s day, and Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
To make Sowans, you’d take meal and oat husks (called “sids” in Celtic) and let the mixture steep in water for a week, then strain. The liquid is what you were after. You’d let the liquid sit and ferment a bit, during which the solid matter in the liquid would settle to the bottom. You’d then boil the solid matter with salted water, and that was your Sowans.
The liquid drained off after fermenting was called “sowan-swats.” It could be used as a nourishing drink for children, or as a substitute for sour milk in baking, or, it could be used instead of milk in tea on various holy days, particularly approaching Easter.
“Sowans” comes from the the Gaelic word “súgh” meaning juice.