Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Beat the Heat With a Dish of Orange Ice

Orange Ice

The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations.

Orange Ice

Pare ten sweet oranges & squeeze the juice from them. To one pint add the juice of one lemon & pour the whole on three quarters of a pound of loaf sugar—freeze as you would cream & then mould it.

About Oranges

Though the recipe does not indicate it, I can tell that this recipe uses juice from sweet oranges as opposed to bitter or Seville oranges because lemon juice is included in the recipe to cut the sweetness. Note: as a point of contrast, the earliest   recipes historically and most popular even today for orange marmalade are made from bitter oranges, not sweet. 

While sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis) are the leading citrus fruit in the United States and the world today, they originated in southern China and Southeast Asia and spread to the rest of the world over the course of many centuries. By the time the North American colonies were settled by the British, they were already well known to elite members of society and even were included in recipes in the first cookbook published by an America, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons in 1796. Simmons has recipes for Orange Tart and two recipes for Orange Pudding.

In the 18th and 19th centuries in Maryland, not everyone was able to afford oranges because they, along with a variety of other citrus fruits such as lemons and limes, needed to be imported and were expensive  The 19th century Baltimore woman who recorded this recipe for Orange Ice in her journal, Ann Maria Morris, was from a prominent family who could, no doubt, afford to purchase citrus fruits. Here are some advertisements for citrus from the Baltimore publication of the American and Commercial Daily Advertiser from 1804-1806:

Top: (left to Right) Lemons, Lime Juice, Limes
Bottom: Oranges

Some people were wealthy enough not only to be able to afford to purchase imported citrus fruits, but they had the means to grow their own in climate-controlled buildings or rooms called orangeries. I have no idea if the Morris home had an orangerie,  but in the Maryland and DC area there are some prominent homes where orangeries can still be seen today. Here are some of them: 

  • The c. 1790 Hampton National Historic Site in Towson, Maryland has an orangery on its premises where special programming is often held.
  • Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC has an orangery dated to 1810.
  • Wye House in Easton, Maryland where Frederick Douglass was enslaved, has an orangery (also known as Green House). 
Another option for growing citrus fruits is to house them in a salon, a room with lots of windows allowing the sun's rays and warmth, along with the help of a stove, to provide a suitable environment to foster the citrus trees. There is a salon at the c. 1801 Riversdale House Museum in Riverdale Park, Maryland which was home to George and Rosalie Calvert. Rosalie Calvert was a prolific letter-writer and boasted about the lemon trees grown in that salon and also mentions having orange trees on site in a letter to her parents dated 12 August 1803: "I have arranged all the orange trees and geraniums in pots along the north wall of the house, where they make a very pretty effect." She goes on to say, "You probably recall that we planted several orange cuttings together--not a single one was lost and now they are small trees." I can assume these trees were brought into the orangery when temperatures dipped below freezing.

Orange Ice: Modern Recipe Adaptation


  • 2 Cups Freshly Sqeezed Orange Juice
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  1. Freeze the bowl of a 2 pint capacity electric ice cream maker. 
  2. In a large plastic storage bowl with a lid, place the orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar. Whisk together.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
  4. When the ice cream maker bowl is sufficiently frozen, whisk the orange juice mixture again and the add it to the frozen ice cream maker bowl following the ice cram maker manufacturer's instructions.
  5. Place the orange ice in a decorative mould or place in a plastic covered container and freeze for several hours to set and become firm.
  6. To remove from the mould, gently float the mould in a tub of hot water for just a few seconds. Then, invert onto a plate.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.