Eva Ekeblad

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Eva Ekeblad
Eva Ekeblad
Born10 July 1724
Stockholm, Sweden
Died15 May 1786(1786-05-15) (aged 61)
Known forMaking flour and alcohol from potatoes (1746)
Claes Claesson Ekeblad
(m. 1740; died 1771)
Children7, including Hedda Piper
AwardsMembership in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1748)
Scientific career
First woman in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: full member 1748–51, honorary member 1751–86

Eva Ekeblad (née De la Gardie; 10 July 1724 – 15 May 1786) was a Swedish agriculturist and salon hostess. She discovered a method to make alcohol and flour from potatoes, significantly reducing Sweden's incidence of famine. She became the first female member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.


Personal life

Eva De la Gardie was born on 10 July 1724 in Stockholm[1] as the daughter of Count Magnus Julius De la Gardie, state marshal and privy councillor and Hedvig Catharina Lillie. She was the tenth of fourteen children, but only two of her siblings survived to adulthood. Her family was influential in Swedish politics, and her mother was active in politics, holding salons for the members of the Hats.[2]

At the age of sixteen, she married thirty-two-year-old Count Clas Ekeblad, a privy councillor. Due to her bloodline and her marriage, she became powerful in the country. Because of her husband's 'political obligations',[2] she often had to manage their properties and became an expert agriculturist. She ran the estates with a 'firm' hand, kind to servants but requiring the obedience due to her status. She had a son and seven daughters, only one of whom died in childhood.

She signed her name as Eva Delagardie, retaining her maiden name as was customary in Sweden in the early 1700s, but she is most often referenced by her husband's name.[2]

Scientific discoveries

Ekeblad experimented with potatoes, which had been introduced to Sweden in 1658, but were only cultivated in the greenhouses of aristocrats. She discovered how to make starch from them which could then be grounded and sifted. She developed a bread recipe using oat flour and mashed potatoes, and also described a method for the preparation of potato liquor from the same.

In 1746, she detailed her discoveries to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.[1] They were reviewed by Jonas Alströmer and Jacob Faggot, who both praised it. She was elected its first female member on 3 December 1748.[1] Her essay, Försök att tillverka bröd, brännvin, stärkelse och puder af potater ('Attempts at Producing Bread, Spirit, Starch, and Powder from Potatoes') was also published by the Academy that year. It was hoped that recognising her would encourage Swedish women to invent useful household products.[2] There are no records of her participation in the meetings of the Academy and from at least 1751, she was seen only as an honorary member.[1] She described a new method for bleaching cotton textiles 1751 and bleaching yarn in 1752 to the Academy, which were both published.[1]

She promoted replacing dangerous ingredients such as arsenic in cosmetic powders with potato flour. She is said to have advertised the plant by using its flowers as hair ornaments.[3]

Late life

With age, Ekeblad's status grew. She was close friends with Queen Louisa Ulrika and held important positions in the royal court.[1] She died on 15 May 1786, at the age of sixty-one, in the parish of Lidköpings.[2]

Ekeblad was featured in a Google Doodle on 10 July 2017.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hildebrand, Bengt (1949). "Eva Ekeblad f. De la Gardie". Svenskt biografiskt lexikon [Dictionary of Swedish National Biography] (in Swedish). p. 637. Retrieved 23 February 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lenneman, Eva (8 March 2018). "Eva Ekeblad (Eva De la Gardie)". Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon [Biographical Encyclopædia of Swedish Women]. Translated by Grosjean, Alexia. Retrieved 23 February 2024.
  3. ^ Tikkanen, Amy. "Eva Ekeblad". Britannica. Retrieved 23 February 2024.
  4. ^ "Eva Ekeblad's 293rd Birthday". Google. 10 July 2017.

Further reading