To Candy Orring Pills

Candied Orange Peels, 17th century recipeI don’t quite know why, but I had kind of assumed that candied orange peel would date to the late 17th century, like jellied marmalades. I was quite surprised, then, to find that candied fruits, and candied peel, are actually quite a bit older.

 

Preserving in a sugary syrup – whether it’s made from honey, wine, grape must, or sugar – is a very effective way of preserving seasonal products. There is a long history of preserved or candied fruits in China and Korea, dating back to the 10th century, and the Romans preserved quinces and other fruits in honey, or in desfrutum (boiled down new wine) or must.[1]

 

Candied citrus in particular was an expensive gift, and an extravagant ingredient during the 14th and 15th centuries.[2] In Medieval Europe, both honey and sugar were used for preserving a range of fruits, herbs, nuts and spices. This late fourteenth century recipe from The Menagier de Paris uses honey:

 

To make orengat, cut the peel of an orange into five segments, and with a knife, scrape off the white pith that is inside. Then soak them in nice, fresh water for nine days, and change the water every day; then boil them in fresh water until it comes to the boil, then spread them on a cloth and let them dry thoroughly; then put them ina  pot with enough honey to cover the completely, and boil over a low fire, and skim it; and when you think that the honey is done (to see if it is done, put some water into a bowl and drop into that water a drop of the honey, and if it spreads it is not cooked; and if that drop of honey holds its shape in the water without spreading, it is done); then, remove your orange peel, and make a layer of it and sprinkle ginger powder on top, then another layer, and sprinkle etc., ad infinitum; leave for a month or longer before eating.[3]

 

In the fifteenth century, Platina suggests that sugar could be used for candying almonds, pine-nuts, hazelnuts, coriander, anise and cinnamon, while honey was better for apples, gourds, citrons and nuts.[4] The Catalan book on confectionary Libre de totes maneres de confits gives both options in most cases, whereas the Italian Libro per Cuoco only uses honey for candying orange peel.[5] Over time, as sugar become cheaper and more widely available, the use of honey became less common.

 

In England, by the sixteenth century, the primary distinction is between wet suckets (stored in syrup) and dry suckets (removed from the syrup and dried).[6] Nearly every published cookbook and private receipt book that survives contains recipes for these kinds of sweetmeats, which would be served in the banquet course at the end of the meal. Sugar was considered health promoting, especially when combined with spices and it was eaten at the end of the meal to promote digestion (for more on this see my post on gingerbread).[7]

 

The range of products which were candied is staggering. Fresh fruits, seeds, spices, green walnuts, marshmallow, angelica, lettuce stalks (sometimes called gorge d’ange or angel’s throat), and eringo (or sea-holly) roots were all fair game. Nor has the tradition completely died out. Many types of dry suckets still survive: in England, particularly around Christmas, baked goods often include candied citrus peel, candied ginger, glace cherries and candied angelica. In France, candied melon is an essential ingredient in calissons while marrons glaces (candied chestnuts) are a specialty of Northern Italy and the Piedmont region. Elvas, Portugal, is famous for its candied greengages. Wet suckets have been less enduring, but you can still buy ginger preserved in syrup.

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Given how many 16th and 17th century still lives exist showing all kinds of sweetmeats, there are surprisingly few with candied fruits. This early 17th century painting shows a range of candied fruits, both whole and in sections. On the left at the back is what looks like a whole candied citron, slices of another type of citrus, and what might be candied greengages. On the plate in front are candied figs, or maybe small pears. The boxes on the right would hold fruit pastes, and the jars contain fruits preserved in syrup.  Juan van der Hamen, Still Life with Sweets and Pottery, 1627. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Recipe

All of this leads us to today’s recipe, which comes from Martha Washington’s Booke of Sweetmeats (the second half of the Booke of Cookery). This receipt book is typical in that it provides a range of recipes for preserving and candying. The candying section alone has recipes for rose leaves, marigolds, violets, rosemary flowers, borage flowers, eringo roots, elecampane, ginger, orange peel, gooseberries, angelico stalks and roots, and apricots.[8]

 

To Candy Orring Pills

Take Civill orringes & pare them very thin. Then cut them in little pieces, & lay them in faire water a day & a night, & shift them evening and morning. Then boyle them, & shift them when the water is bitter into another water, & continew this till the water & boyling hath made them soft & yt theyr bitterness be gon. Then dreyne ye water from them, & make a thin sirrup, in which boyle them a pritty while. Then take them out & make another sirrup a little stronger, & boyle them a while in yt. Then dreyne ye sirrup from them, & boyle another sirrup to candy heigh, in wch put them. Then take them out & lay them on plats one by one. When they are dry, turne them & then they are done.[9]

 

This is a fairly straightforward recipe for candied orange peels, and indeed modern recipes aren’t dissimilar. The recipe explicitly calls for Seville oranges, which are very bitter (they are still preferred for marmalade) and this explains the soaking and boiling process.

 

What is more unusual, is the way that the peels are removed from each syrup. What is unclear is whether a completely new syrup is made each time, or whether the existing syrup is simply made stronger, either by reducing it, or perhaps by adding more sugar. In the end, I opted to simply use the same syrup, but to boil it down between each stage.

 

For the stages, there are a series of instructions at the beginning of the book which describe each stage. A thin syrup is “will look thin & pale cullered.”[10] A full syrup is a bit stronger, “it will change its culler and looke high cullered like strong beere.”[11] It is not as strong as manus christi height, at which point it will form a thread between the fingers. Hess notes that this is 215F (105C), but this stage would normally be considered a bit hotter at 230-234F or 110-112C.[12]

 

Candy height, which is the final stage required for this recipe is what is now called the large pearl stage. Again, Hess’ temperature of 232F seems a bit low, it’s normally given as 235-239F or 113-115C.[13] Having said that, I have tried it with the temperatures that Hess gives, and they do work. You will just have a more syrupy peel at the end.

 

[1] Vehling, De Re Coquinaria of Apicius, 52; Palladius, The Fourteen Books of Palladius Rutilius Taurus Æmilianus, on Agriculture, 148; Richardson, Sweets, 92; The Korea Foundation, Traditional Food.

[2] Tolkowsky, Hesperides A History of Culture and Use of Citrus Fruits, 150, 166, 269.

[3] Redon, Sabban, and Serventi, The Medieval Kitchen: Recipe from France and Italy, 218.

[4] Scully, The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages, 57.

[5] Anonimo Veneziano, “Libro Di cucina/Libro per Cuoco”; Faraudo de Saint-Germain, “Libre de Totes Maneres de Confits. Un Tratado Manual Cuatrocentista de Arte de Dulceria.”

[6] Young, “Stages of Sugar Syrup,” 102.

[7] Scully, The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages, 130–31.

[8] Hess, Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats, 278–87.

[9] Ibid., 284.

[10] Ibid., 226.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid., 227; Young, “Stages of Sugar Syrup,” 651.

[13] Hess, Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats, 227; Young, “Stages of Sugar Syrup,” 651.

Flegel_-_Stilleben_mit_Gebäck_und_Zuckerwerk

Here is another still life with candied fruit. At the back left, the fruit has clearly been stored in syrup and is still quite wet. It’s hard to make out what the fruit is, but some pears, a lemon, and maybe some melon or gourd. On the plate on the right, the fruit is very dry. This could simply be dried fruit, but it could also be candied fruit. In particular, look in the center, where there is citrus peel holding the dried grapes. Georg Flegel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What can I do with my Orange Peel and Syrup?

 

The easiest thing is to eat it straight, because it is delicious. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but some people might like to roll the peel in sugar, or for a modern option you can dip them in good-quality dark chocolate.

 

You can also keep your orange peel for baking. Lots of modern recipes contain candied peel, including fruitcake, Christmas pudding, panettone or this delicious spiced honey cake. If you want something historical, try one of these recipes:

 

Eccles Cakes via The Old Foodie

Orange Gingerbread via The Old Foodie

Scotch Short-bread via the Old Foodie

Hot Cross Buns via The Cook and the Curator

Mince Pies via Colonial Williamsburg Historic Foodways

This updated recipe of Martha Washington’s Excellent Cake via the Chicago Tribune

Skirret Pie via Historic Food Jottings

 

And the syrup? It’s got a lovely, gentle orange flavour which would be perfect for pouring over baklava or awamat (Lebanese doughnuts). You could also use it as a simple syrup in cocktails, or use it for an orange syrup cake.

 

My Redaction

Candied Orange Peels

4 oranges, Seville if possible

2 cups water

225g sugar

 

  1. Slice the top and bottom off the oranges with a very sharp knife. Steady the orange on the now flat bottom, and carefully cut the peel of the knife in vertical sections. Carefully remove as much pith as you want (more pith = more bitter) using either a teaspoon or a knife. Slice the peel into thin slices.
  2. Place the peel in a large bowl and cover with fresh water. Cover the bowl and leave for 24 hours, changing the water after 12 hours. The next day, drain the peels, place them in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to the boil, then drain the peels, cover them in fresh water and bring to the boil again. Repeat this once more, for a total of three times, then drain the peels.
  3. In the saucepan, combine the water and the sugar. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to a simmer. Add the peel, but try not to stir as this will lead to crystallisation. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove the peel.
  4. Heat the syrup to 105C, then add the peel. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove the peel.
  5. Heat the syrup to 113C,then add the peel. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Remove the peel from the hot syrup and lay them on racks to dry. Once dry, remove them and store them in an airtight container.

 

 

 

Note: you can collect orange peels over time, and keep them in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. Simply defrost them when you want to use them, and continue with the recipe. If they have been frozen, it is much easier to scoop out the pith with a spoon.

 

 

The Round-Up

 

The Recipe: To Candy Orring Pills from Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweemeats

The Date: 17th century

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 2 days

How successful was it?: I was really happy with how they turned out. They’re very moreish wish a pleasant residual bitterness from the pith.

How accurate?: I didn’t use Seville oranges, which would have been more bitter, and might have needed more pith removed. I also am not sure whether using the same syrup and just making it stronger was the right approach or not.

Candied Orange Peels, 17th century recipe

References

The Korea Foundation. Traditional Food: A Taste of Korean Life. Seoul: Seoul Selection, 2010.

Anonimo Veneziano. “Libro Di cucina/Libro per Cuoco.” Translated by Thomas Gloning.

Corpus of Culinary & Dietetic Texts of Europe from the Middle Ages to 1800, 2000. http://www.staff.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/frati.htm.

Faraudo de Saint-Germain, Lluis. “Libre de Totes Maneres de Confits. Un Tratado Manual Cuatrocentista de Arte de Dulceria.” Boletin de La Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona 19 (1946): 97–134.

Hess, Karen. Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats. Reprint edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

Palladius, Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus. The Fourteen Books of Palladius Rutilius Taurus Æmilianus, on Agriculture. Translated by Thomas Owen. J. White, 1807.

Redon, Odine, Francoise Sabban, and Silvano Serventi. The Medieval Kitchen: Recipe from France and Italy. Translated by Edward Schneider. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Richardson, Tim. Sweets: The History of Temptation. Random House, 2004.

Young, Carolin C. “Stages of Sugar Syrup.” In The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, edited by Darra Goldstein, 650–53. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Scully, Terence. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages. 5th ed. Suffolk and Rochester: Boydell Press, 2005.

Tolkowsky, S. Hesperides A History of Culture and Use of Citrus Fruits. London: John Bale Sons & Curnow LTD, 1938.

Vehling, Joseph Dommers, trans. De Re Coquinaria of Apicius. Chicago: Walter M. Hill, 1936. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Apicius/1*.html.

 

 

 

 

 

In a Jam

Marmalade Cropped more

After discussing the origins of the word marmalade several weeks ago (you can read the post here) the answer to this fortnight’s challenge “In a Jam” seemed obvious. You may remember that the original marmalade was actually a thick, quince paste which was imported from Portugal at the very end of the 15th century. Soon English confectioners and housewives were making their own version of the sweetmeat, using not only quinces but also apples, peaches, plums, damsons, pears and medlars.[1] Early recipes for orange marmalade hark back to these fruit pastes, Sir Hugh Platt’s book Delightes of Ladies published in 1602 has a recipe for ‘Marmelade of Lemmons or Orenges’ which is essentially a flavoured apple past while Gervase Markham in his book Country Contentments published in 1615 offers an orange marmalade which is strained into boxes, suggesting it was much thicker than what we would normally consider marmalade.

 

Sweetmeat Glass. 1750, Bohemian. Glass. via www.metmuseum.org

Sweetmeat Glass. 1750, Bohemian. Glass. via http://www.metmuseum.org

The earliest known recipe for marmalade in its modern form was written down by Rebecca Price in 1681, it was her mother’s recipe for a spoon-able jelly with shredded rind. Another early recipe is held by the Scottish Archives, it dates to 1683 and was probably written down by the Countess of Sutherland. You can see a copy of the recipe here, but be warned it is nearly illegible. In published recipe books the change didn’t occur until slightly later, in 1714 with the publication of Mary Kettilby’s A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts.

Sweetmeat Glass. ca. 1740, German. Glass. via www.metmuseum.org

Sweetmeat Glass. ca. 1740, German. Glass. via http://www.metmuseum.org

 

Jellied marmalades, as opposed to cut marmalades which were the thick pastes popular until the end of the 18th century, came in two basic types: beaten or pounded and transparent. The difference is to do with the treatment of the peel, in a pounded marmalade the peel was pounded together with the pulp giving a cloudy jelly while transparent jellies were a clear jelly containing chips or finely cut strips of peel. Both types were served with the dessert course, alongside a range of other sweetmeats including ice creams, jellies, biscuits, nuts, fresh fruit, flummeries, creams, syllabubs and cakes. Wet sweetmeats like marmalade were served in salvers and ornate sweetmeat dishes, such as those pictured.

 

The dishes were laid out in symmetrical patterns on the table, arranged around an ornate centrepiece or pyramid of sweets. Hannah Glasse’s advice for young ladies arranging the table is as follows:

“The above middle frame [the centerpiece] should be made either in three parts or five, all to join together, which may serve on different occasions; on which suppose gravel walks, hedges, and variety of different things, as a little Chinese temple for the middle, or any other pretty ornament; which ornaments are to be bought at the confectioners, and will serve year after year; the top, bottom, and sides are to be set out with such things as are to be got, or the season of the year will allow, as fruits, nuts of all kinds, creams, jellies, whip syllabubs, biscuits &c. &c. And as many plates as you please according to the size of the table. All this depends wholly on a little experience, and a good fancy to ornament in a pretty manner; you must have artificial flowers of all sorts, and some natural out of a garden in summer time do very intermixed.”[2]

A later edition of the same book shows exactly how the dishes should be laid out[3]:

 

A bill of fare for the dessert course from The Compleat Confectioner by Hannah Glasse, 1800.

A bill of fare for the dessert course from The Compleat Confectioner by Hannah Glasse and Maria Wilson, 1800.

 

The Recipe

 

Like many recipes books of the time, Elizabeth Raffald’s The Experienced English House-keeper (1769) included recipes for both pounded and transparent marmalade. I used the recipe for Transparent Marmalade as follows:

 

“TAKE very pale Seville Oranges, cut them in Quarters, take out the Pulp, and put it into a Bason, pick the Skins and Seeds out, put the Peels in a little Salt and Water, let them stand all Night, then boil them in a good Quantity of Spring Water ‘till they are tender, then cut them in very thin Slices, and put them to the Pulp, to every Pound of Marmalade, put a Pound and a half of double refined Sugar beat fine, boil them together gently for twenty Minutes; if it is not clear and transparent, boil it five or six Minutes longer, keep stirring it gently all the Time, and take Care you do not break the Slices; when it is cold, put it into Jelly or Sweetmeat Glasses, tie them down with Brandy Papers over them.

They are pretty for a Desert of any Kind.”[4]

 

Although at first glance I thought that this recipe was quite similar to modern marmalade recipes, there were a couple of things that tripped me up. First was what to do with the pulp, I cut the oranges into quarters and then removed the peel from the flesh, however that left a lot of membrane on the flesh. I think there are probably two options for what you could do here, either do as I did and leave them more or less intact during the cooking process and then removing the membrane when the flesh has cooked down to a pulp. The other option would be to supreme the oranges which probably gives a slightly better result, but is a lot fiddlier.

The second question that I had to answer was what to do with the pith of the orange. Once again there are two basic options, leave it on because there are no specific instructions in the recipe, or after the peels have boiled you can use a spoon to scrape out the soft white pith. Basically the choice depends on how bitter you want your marmalade to be, with more pith making it more bitter, and on how exactly you want to follow the recipe. Since I’m not a huge fan of bitter marmalade, and because I thought it would make for a clearer jelly, I chose to remove the pith.

Transparent Marmalade

Transparent Marmalade in the foreground, and Lemon Jelly in the background. I’ll be posting a recipe for it soon!

 

Which brings us to the final, and probably most controversial issue. Seville oranges. To make this recipe properly you need Seville oranges. However, if you are like me and have a sudden compulsion to make marmalade with no Seville oranges to hand then don’t panic! Warning, I’m now going to say something that is worthy of excommunication in some circles, nonetheless I stand by the fact that you can make perfectly good marmalade with sweet oranges. It will be neither as intense nor as bitter as marmalade made from Seville oranges, but then in my book that’s not necessarily a bad thing. So if you can’t get Seville oranges/don’t want to, don’t be afraid to do as I did and use sweet oranges.

 

The Redaction

Mrs Raffald’s Transparent Marmalade

1 kg oranges

1 tsp salt

Sugar

 

  1. Quarter the oranges and pulling gently at one corner of the quarter, peel the skin from the flesh. If you would prefer to supreme the oranges see the link above but try to keep the peel in large pieces. Place the peels in a bowl with the salt and cover with cold water. Place the flesh in another bowl in the refrigerator, removing all the seeds that you can find, and leave both bowls overnight.
  2. The next day drain the peels, place them in a saucepan and cover them with fresh water. Bring to the boil and boil until a skewer will easily pass through the peels. Drain.
  3. Once the peels are slightly cooled take a spoon and scrape the white pith from the inside of the peels. Discard the pith then slice the peels into thin slivers, the thinner the better.
  4. Add the sliced peels to the pulp and weigh the mixture. Place the fruit in a saucepan and to every 450g of fruit add 680g of sugar. Bring to the boil and boil for 20 mins, mashing the fruit gently so that you can remove the membranes which can simply be lifted out and discarded.
  5. After 20 mins check the set of the marmalade by turning off the heat and placing half a teaspoonful on a cold saucer. If the marmalade separates into a jelly surrounded by a thinner liquid then it needs more time. You should be able to run your finger through the marmalade (but be careful it’s hot!), leaving a distinct channel with a wrinkled surface (if you’re not sure exactly how to test for a set there is a video link at the bottom of the page). If it is not setting then return it to the heat and cook for another 5 minutes before testing again. Continue until you reach setting point.
  6. Once you have reached setting point the marmalade can either be decanted into hot, sterilised jars to keep for several months, or into clean sweetmeat bowls if you want to serve it as a dessert.

 

IMG_0011

The Recipe: Transparent Marmalade from The Experienced English House-keeper by Elizabeth Raffald (available here)

The Date: 1769

How did you make it?: See above

Time to complete?: Probably about 1hr ½ active work, plus leaving it overnight.

Total cost: Maybe $3 for the oranges which I got on special and then the same for the sugar so $6 all up.

How successful was it?: Very tasty, just a hint of bitterness. One of my loyal taste-testers said it was the best marmalade she had ever had.

How accurate?: Well, I didn’t use Seville oranges, and I really need to look into what sugar was like at the time, but I’d say it was probably quite different. I had to make some decisions where the directions were unclear and it’s hard to tell how much that affected the authenticity but I’d say it was a decent approximation.

 

Marmalade Links

Learn how to supreme an orange here

Watch how to test for a set in jam here 

IMG_0017

[1] C. Anne Wilson, The Book of Marmalade (Great Britain: Prospect Books, 2010), 28–41.

[2] Hannah Glasse, The Compleat Confectioner (London: Printed and sold at Mrs. Ashburner’s China Shop, the Corner of Fleet Ditch; at Yewd’s Hat Warehous, near Somerset Hous; at Kirk’s Toyshop, in St Paul’s Church Yard; at Deard’s Toyshop, facing Arlington-Street, Piccadilly; By I. Pottinger, at the Royal Bible, in Pater-Noster Row; and by J Williams, opposite St. Dunstan’s Church, Fleet Street, 1760), 255.

[3] Hannah Glasse and Maria Wilson, The Complete Confectioner: Or, Housekeeper’s Guide: To a Simple and Speedy Method of Understanding the Whole Art of Confectionary; the Various Ways of Preserving and Candying, Dry and Liquid, All Kinds of Fruit, Nuts, Flowers, Herbs, &c. … the Different Ways of Clarifying Sugar … Also the Art of Making Artificial Fruit … To Which Are Added Some Bills of Fare for Deserts for Private Families (J. W. Meyers, 1800), 232.

[4] Elizabeth Raffald, The Experienced English House-Keeper: For the Use and Ease of Ladies, House-Keepers, Cooks, &c. : Wrote Purely from Practice and Dedicated to the Hon. Lady Elizabeth Warburton … : Consisting of Near 800 Original Receipts, Most of Which Never Appeared in Print … (J. Harrop, 1769), 201.

[1] Hannah Glasse and Maria Wilson, The Complete Confectioner: Or, Housekeeper’s Guide: To a Simple and Speedy Method of Understanding the Whole Art of Confectionary; the Various Ways of Preserving and Candying, Dry and Liquid, All Kinds of Fruit, Nuts, Flowers, Herbs, &c. … the Different Ways of Clarifying Sugar … Also the Art of Making Artificial Fruit … To Which Are Added Some Bills of Fare for Deserts for Private Families (J. W. Meyers, 1800), 232.

Bibliography

Glasse, Hannah. The Compleat Confectioner. London: Printed and sold at Mrs. Ashburner’s China Shop, the Corner of Fleet Ditch; at Yewd’s Hat Warehous, near Somerset Hous; at Kirk’s Toyshop, in St Paul’s Church Yard; at Deard’s Toyshop, facing Arlington-Street, Piccadilly; By I. Pottinger, at the Royal Bible, in Pater-Noster Row; and by J Williams, opposite St. Dunstan’s Church, Fleet Street, 1760.

Glasse, Hannah, and Maria Wilson. The Complete Confectioner: Or, Housekeeper’s Guide: To a Simple and Speedy Method of Understanding the Whole Art of Confectionary; the Various Ways of Preserving and Candying, Dry and Liquid, All Kinds of Fruit, Nuts, Flowers, Herbs, &c. … the Different Ways of Clarifying Sugar … Also the Art of Making Artificial Fruit … To Which Are Added Some Bills of Fare for Deserts for Private Families. J. W. Meyers, 1800.

Raffald, Elizabeth. The Experienced English House-Keeper: For the Use and Ease of Ladies, House-Keepers, Cooks, &c. : Wrote Purely from Practice and Dedicated to the Hon. Lady Elizabeth Warburton … : Consisting of Near 800 Original Receipts, Most of Which Never Appeared in Print … J. Harrop, 1769.

Wilson, C. Anne. The Book of Marmalade. Great Britain: Prospect Books, 2010.