Posts Tagged ‘lemon’
Rub some of the sugar on the peel of the lemon to extract the oil; roll the lemons under the hand on the table, and press out all the juice; add to every lemon two heaping table-spoons of loaf-sugar; mix it thoroughly with the lemon; fill the pitcher one-quarter full of broken ice, and add water.
From The Housekeeper’s Encyclopedia by Mrs. E. F. Haskell, 1861
Comment: Today a direction to “rub sugar on the lemon peel” looks a bit peculiar, and attempting to follow it would undoubtedly produce a dreadful mess of sugar grains scattered about, leading to an infestation of ants in the kitchen.
Sugar in the 19th century was not sold in the already-granulated form we find in bags in supermarkets today. It was sold as “loaf sugar,” produced at the refinery in large cones which were wrapped in paper for shipment to merchants. There it would be sold whole only to very large consumers, perhaps plantations which supported a number of families or else commercial users such as hotels.
For buyers from smaller households the grocer would knock off a chunk with a mallet and chisel and sell it by weight. This still left the end user with the task of further chipping it into bits which would then be ground in a mortar, scraped over a grater, or, in this case, rubbed on the peels of lemons to extract their flavor. Once the lemon juice and water were mixed the remaining sweetener could be tossed in in chunk or chip sizes and allowed to dissolve. Ice, if available, would probably be added last, just before serving.
2 large lemons, peeled
4-5 oz. sugar
yolks of 6 eggs
1/2 lb. butter
Boil the peel of two large lemons till they are quite tender, and then pound it well in a mortar, with four or five ounces of loaf sugar, the yolks of six eggs, half a pound of fresh butter, and a little curd beaten fine; pound and mix together, lay a rich puff paste in some patty-pans, fill them half full, and bake them carefully.
From The Cook’s Own Book by “A Boston Housekeeper” (Mrs. N. K. M. Lee), Boston, 1832
Comment: “Curd” is the hard part of cottage cheese. Either get the dry form of this or put regular cottage cheese in a strainer and rinse the milky white stuff out. Unlike modern cheesecakes, those of the period were baked in regular pie crust, not the crushed graham cracker version more common today. The boiled lemon peel should be the yellow part only with as little of the underlying white pith as possible, as it is bitter. It will mush up with the sugar in the mortar more easily the thinner the strips into which it is cut.
“Loaf sugar” is just regular white sugar, which in the 19th century was normally sold in hard blocks or cones and grated into granulated form for use. We can, thankfully, skip that step today.
Sugar or syrup
1 pint cream
Bit of orange-peel
Squeeze the juice of two lemons into a China bowl, or small deep dish, that will hold a quart; sweeten it like sirup, add a little brandy; boil one pint of cream with a bit of orange-peel; take out the peel, when cold, put the cream into a teapot, pour it to the sirup, holding it high. Make it the day before it is wanted.
From The Cook’s Own Book by “A Boston Housekeeper” (Mrs. N. K. M. Lee) Boston 1832
Comment: This is sort of a cross between a syllabub (see other recipes) and a pudding. To “sweeten [something] like sirup” is to add as much sugar to the lemon juice as it will absorb and still be liquid. The resulting posset should be stored in a lidded container, to protect it from insects, and in the coolest available part of the room, but not refrigerated during the resting period.
1 lemon, yellow part of peel pared & saved, white rind then removed
1/2 pint melted butter
Pare a lemon, and cut it into slices twice as thick as a half-crown piece; divide these into dice, and put them into a quarter of a pint of melted butter.
Obs: Some cooks mince a bit of the lemon-peel (pared very thin), and add it to the above.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: We would rather Dr. Kitchiner had called this “Lemon Butter” but suppose it is a bit late to persuade him to change his mind on the matter. We would also inquire as to the precise thickness of “a half-crown piece” (one of the many places where the English origins of this book show through the good doctor’s attempts to “Americanize” it) but will instead just take a wild guess and suggest making the lemon slices about a quarter inch thick.
Lemon peel can be removed with either a common vegetable paring tool (so long as care is taken not to go so deep as to include the bitter white pith underneath) or with a specialized utensil known as a “zester.” This is something like a single-row grater, with a head containing five or six holes attached to a handle. You scrape the instrument over the fruit as if you were wielding a disposable razor. The zest emerges in thin threads, precisely as needed for this recipe.