Sunday, August 21, 2016

Lemon Syrup: The Basis for a Refreshing Drink in Summer

Citron (Citrus medica L.): flowering and fruiting stem.
Coloured aquatint by G. Geri, c.1825, after D. Serantoni
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Sirup of Lemons
To a pint of lemon juice, put a pound & a half of double refined sugar, boil it to a sirup & keep it in Bottles for use.



Recipe Provenance
This 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 (including this one!).

About Lemon Syrup

It seems that lemon syrup was a highly sought after item in America in the early-to-mid 19th century. According to Lydia Child in her 1830 cookbook The Frugal Housewife (Boston), lemon syrup was available for purchase for 50 cents per bottle. She, being the frugal housewife, was not about to pay such extortionate rates and therefore offered her own recipe.

Baltimore housewife, Mrs. Morris, clearly could have purchased lemon syrup as evidenced by this advertisement for it which appeared in the 16 July 1824 issue of the Baltimore newspaper, American & Commercial Daily Advertiser:




Clearly, based on the inclusion of a recipe for lemon syrup in her journal, Mrs. Morris wanted to make the syrup at home to avoid paying the high prices or because it may have just simply tasted better. Lots of lemons were available for purchase in Baltimore at the time Mrs. Morris wrote her recipes in the 19th century, and they were even available in the 18th century. Here is an advertisement for them from 1824:

7 July 1824 American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore)

Other Period Lemon Syrup Recipes

This one is from Eliza Leslie's 1840 cookbook Directions for Cookery In Its Various Branches (Phildaelphia):

Here are two different styles of the recipe from a Elizabeth Ellicott Lea's 1869 Baltimore cookbook, Domestic Cookery:


And, Catherine Beecher in her 1869 Cookbook, The American Woman's Home (New York) gives directions for Orange and Lemon Syrups as well as directions for making Imitation Lemon Syrup:





Uses for Lemon Syrup:
According to period primary sources, lemon, or any fruit syrups for that matter, could be used to flavor:
  • A Refreshing Summer Drink
    • In Eliza Leslie's recipe above, she suggests the proportion of 1/3 lemon syrup to 2/3 ice water to make this drink.
  • Ice Cream
  • Puddings
  • Pies
Lemon Syrup: Modern Recipe Adaptation

Ingredients:
  • 12 Lemons
  • 2 Cups Sugar

Directions:
1.  Squeeze the juice from the lemons. You should have about 1 1/4 cups. Please do not use store-bought lemon juice; fresh is best!
2. In a medium-sized saucepan, mix together the lemon juice and the sugar. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and boil for about 12-15 minutes, or until it becomes syrupy.
3. Remove from the heat and cool.
4. Store in a jar with a lid. Refrigerate.


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