Wartime Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

In a total coincidence, it is both jam month in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, and the Recipes Project Virtual Conversation month. If you haven’t been following along with the conversation, check it out because there are loads of really interesting things going on covering all types of recipes in all periods.


One of the projects that I’ve been really interested in is the series of videos by Simon Walker called “Feeding Under Fire”. In each video, Simon recreates a dish that soldiers would have eaten during World War 1, and contextualises it with information about nutrition, supply lines and what was happening on the home front.


The second video in the series (see it here) was all about the important role that jam played in soldiers’ diets. The recipe that he used was for plum and apple jam, which seems to have been the most common type of jam sent to the front lines. Even though Simon wasn’t very happy with how his jam turned out, it inspired me to make a WW1 era jam too.


A recipe for the ubiquitous plum and apple jam, from the Southland Red Cross Cookery Book, 1916.  

In Australia during the First World War, there wasn’t rationing like there was in Britain. Food prices rose rapidly, and the State and Federal governments had only mixed success in setting prices for staple food. With complete control over the sugar industry, it was easier to restrain the market. When sugar prices rose overseas, the Australian government banned exports, in order to maintain sufficient supply at home.[1]


Because sugar was available in greater quantities, and generally for a lower price than in Europe, it was easier for Australian home cooks to keep making jam. Large quantities of jam were made to be sent to Australian soldiers overseas, often in packs of treats sent by the Red Cross or the Australian Comforts Fund.


“Special Effort – 2 tons of jam made by the Cobar Ladies Jam Club”. World War I – Cobar, NSW. Courtesy of the State Library of NSW.

Commercially made jam was available too, and it featured prominently in the meals provided to Australian soldiers. A large surplus of tinned jam was also sold to the British and American armies. In total, the export of jam during the war was 40 times as large as in the pre-war years.[2] As in England, much of this jam seems to have been plum and apple, but sometimes more unusual varieties appeared too.[3] According to Barbara Santich, the Imperial forces bought nearly 2,000 tons of Queensland pineapple jam![4]


Strawberry jam doesn’t seem to have been very common, presumably because strawberries are expensive to buy and comparatively low yielding. Some newspapers published recipes for mock strawberry jam, made with rhubarb and raisins (I also like this recipe from the Second World War which uses tomatoes and strawberry flavouring).


Still, strawberry jam was clearly available. In 1940, Colonel J. Travers suggested that it should be given to all soldiers, because he recalled that “During the last war, we were usually issued with strawberry jam only before a fight … but there seems no reason why these men should not have strawberry jam at other times.”[5] It’s not hard to imagine the excitement that a jar of strawberry jam would have caused, nestled in a comfort box with warm socks and a bit of cake. It was a taste of home, and a welcome distraction from the monotony of bully beef and hard tack.

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

The Recipe

This recipe was published in The Farmer and Settler, a NSW newspaper in January 1915.

Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe

Personally I prefer this method of making, as it does not mash the fruit: – Strawberries that are to be used for the purpose of this jam must be gathered after two or three days of dry weather. The berries should not be over-ripe.

The usual method is to lay the fruit and the sugar in alternate layers in the preserving pan, and to boil the jam very gently over a medium heat until it jellies when tested in the usual way. Three-quarters of a pound of sugar per pound of strawberries is generally sufficient, but if the berries do not appear to be particularly sweet, five pounds of sugar to each six pounds of strawberries will be a better proportion.[6]


If you want a jam with large pieces of fruit in it, this method of layering the fruit and sugar works really well. However, the proportion of sugar to fruit is quite high, so the final result is very sweet. It is also a very soft set jam, almost a syrup, because strawberries are low in pectin and there is no pectin added to the recipe.

[1] Scott, Australia during the War, XI:646–48.

[2] Ibid., XI:544.

[3] “War With Jam On It: As It Seems to Veterans.”

[4] Santich, Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage, 254.

[5] “Strawberry Jam for the Soldiers.”

[6] “Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe.”

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

The Redaction

Strawberry Jam No. 2




  1. Hull your strawberries, and weigh them. Measure out 3/4 of that weight in sugar (so if you have 400g strawberries you need 300g sugar).
  2. Take a preserving pan large enough to fit all your strawberries and sugar. Place half the strawberries in the bottom of the pan and spread them out to make an even layer. Put half the sugar on top, followed by the remaining strawberries and the rest of the sugar. For large quantities you may want to increase the number of layers.
  3. Slowly heat the mixture, without stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. Then cook the jam over medium heat until it set using the wrinkle test (it will be about 105C). Pour the hot jam into sterilised jars and seal.



The Round-Up

The Recipe: Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe (available here)

The Date: 1915

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 45 mins.

How successful was it?: It’s very sweet, with a strong strawberry flavour. I really like the large pieces of strawberry, but I found the set too syrupy for my taste.

How accurate?: The main difference would probably be in the bottling process, although I suppose that there could also be differences in the type of strawberries and sugar. Overall, though, it’s a pretty good approximation.

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915


Santich, Barbara. Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage. South Australia: Wakefield

Press, 2012.

Scott, Ernest. Australia during the War. Vol. XI. The Official History of Australia in the War of

1914-1918. Sydney, Australia: Angus and Robertson Ltd., 1936.

“Strawberry Jam for the Soldiers.” Sydney Morning Herald. January 12, 1940.

“Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe.” Farmer and Settler. January 5, 1915.

“War With Jam On It: As It Seems to Veterans.” Worker. January 23, 1940.


Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

FIJ Marmalade Mastery Challenge

Grapefruit marmalade, recipe c. 1905

Once again, it has been absolutely ages since I’ve posted anything. Unfortunately, the Historical Food Fortnightly isn’t happening this year but don’t worry. This year, Marisa McClellan over at Food in Jars is running a challenge encouraging people to master different types of preserving. Given that food preservation was so important for historical cooks, I thought I’d give it a go. The January challenge was to make marmalade and I’m too late to enter the official challenge (gee, what a surprise!) but my marmalade is done.


We’ve got some really lovely grapefruit available at the moment, they’re super sweet and juicy. Because I had all these grapefruits, I didn’t want a mixed fruit marmalade recipe, but pure grapefruit recipes were actually quite hard to find.

The Recipe

In the end, I stumbled across this recipe from the Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2 which was published around 1905.



Take four large fruit, slice thin and remove seeds; for each pound of fruit add one pint of water. Let stand twenty-four hours; boil twenty minutes until tender; stand again twenty-four hours. For each pound of fruit add one pound of sugar and boil till jellied.[1]


The cookbook was one of a series published in the early 20th century by the LA Times Newspaper. They collated recipes from readers and entrants into their recipe competitions, and many are attributed to particular people.


This is a whole fruit marmalade, which means that it contains the whole fruit. On the upside, using the whole fruit means that you get more product and that there is very little waste. On the downside, it makes the marmalade very bitter. I quite like marmalade, but I’d have to say that this is really a bit too bitter for my taste. It makes for a bit of a conundrum because the marmalade smells so good that you want to eat more and more of it, but then you get hit by this medicinal aftertaste that makes you regret the decision.


Luckily, the marmalade is going to be great as a glaze for roast meat so it will get used eventually. I’ve also used it to make this ricotta tart, which isn’t historical but does have a very medieval flavour profile with the ricotta, pine nuts and orange water (rosewater makes a good substitute too).

[1] The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2, 74.

Grapefruit marmalade, recipe c. 1905

The Redaction

Grapefruit Marmalade

4 grapefruits, ripe


Granulated sugar


  1. Scrub the outside of your grapefruit well to remove any wax. Slice them as thinly as possible, removing the ends with no flesh and any seeds. Weight them and place them in a large bowl with 475ml of water for each 450g of fruit. Cover and place in refrigerator for 24 hours.
  2. The next day, transfer the fruit and water to a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil and boil for 20 minutes or until the grapefruit rind is soft. Allow to cool, then cover and place in the refrigerator for another 24 hours.
  3. The following day, weigh the fruit mixture. Place it in a large saucepan with an equal weight of sugar. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook until it is jellied. You can test for set by putting a small spoonful on a cold saucer. If you push it with your finger and the top of the jelly wrinkles, then it is ready (for full instructions see Food in Jars).
  4. Spoon into sterilised jars and cover.



The Round-Up

The Recipe: Grapefruit Marmalade from the Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2 

The Date: c. 1905

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?:3 days

How successful was it?: I had a lot of difficulty getting it to set, even when the temperature was at 105˚C. In the end, it didn’t set the first time that I bottled it. I boiled it up again the next day and it eventually set very nicely. I’ve had this problem with marmalade before, more so than with other jams. Apparently I’ve still got a while to go before I can claim to have mastered marmalades!

How accurate?: Given that the recipe is so simple, I’d say it’s pretty accurate. The biggest difference is probably to do with the variety of grapefruits which would have been used in California in the early 1900s. Presumably grapefruits have been bred to be sweeter over time, and they certainly have been bred to have less seeds. I also wasn’t sure if the slices where the right shape, or thin enough. Perhaps they should have been semi-circles instead, and that might have allowed for thinner slices.

Grapefruit marmalade, recipe c. 1905


The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2. Los Angeles, California: The Times-Mirror Company, 1905.




Rotten as a Medlar

The next challenge for the Historical Food Fortnightly is to make something with a rare or scarce ingredients. Last October I was lucky enough to stumble upon a rather elusive fruit in a small French market. Called nèfles in French, medlars are very hard to come by in Australia, so I jumped at the opportunity to try these much maligned fruits.

A member of the rose family, medlars might look a bit like giant, brown rosehips but in texture they are more like their other relative, the quince. Like quinces medlars are extremely hard and sour, or at least until they are bletted. Bletting is the first step for basically any medlar recipe and involves leaving the fruit for several weeks to rot. The whole rotted fruit thing is part of the reason that the fruit has a bit of a bad name, but it’s also got centuries of bad nicknames (‘cul de chien’ in French, and an even more graphic one in English) and a history of sexual inneundo (Chaucer, Shakespear and D.H. Lawrence have all had a go at the poor medlar) to overcome. Don’t be put off though, for all its resemblance to certain anatomical features, the medlar is seeing a resurgence amongst foodies and for good reason too!

Some of the sites I read about bletting suggested putting the medlars in the fridge but I found that it was much faster to leave them out on the counter in a paper bag. It took a number of weeks and not all of the fruit ripened at the same time, you can arrest ripening by putting them in the fridge while you wait for the rest to be ready. They’re ready when they are wrinkled, soft and squishy, it’s not hard to tell. You can see the clear difference between the medlars before and after bletting in picture below.


Once the medlars are bletted they can be eaten straight, just squeezed out of their skins but watch out for the seeds! I tried them like this and quite like the flavour which is similar to applesauce, but I didn’t like the texture which was quite grainy. With a carton of medlars to use up I turned to the historical cookbooks for directions. The most common way of using medlars seems to be as jelly which was particularly popular in the Victorian period, but other options include medlar tarts, medlar cheese or medlar preserves.

 The Recipe

This recipe comes from Foreign Desserts for English Tables which was published in 1862. The recipe is incredibly simple, can be applied to whatever quantity of medlars you have and makes a delicious jelly. It can be eaten like a jam, added to gravies and sauces or eaten with cheese as an alternative to quince paste, and it’s definitely worth a try if you can find some medlars!

Medlar Jelly, recipe from 1862

“Medlar Jelly – Pick over your medlars, choose them that are ripe but perfectly sound; halve them, and put them into a saucepan with the juice of a lemon and enough water to float them. Boil them until the water is reduced to a third of its original quantity. Mash the fruit in the liquor put it in a very fine sieve, and let the juice run through without using pressure. Take weight for weight of the latter and highly refined loaf-sugar, boil and skim it carefully, and when thick enough place it in your glass mould. This jelly should be beautifully clear when well made.”[1]

Now I don’t think its worth me giving a redaction, partly because I didn’t have scales in France when I made it and so don’t know what quantities I used, and partly because the original recipe is very straightforward. If you are concerned about using this recipe and want something with quantities you could use David Lebovitz’s recipe which is similar but adds an apple to up the pectin content (what helps the jelly set). The process for testing the jelly and bottling it is the same as for Transparent Marmalade.

 The Round-Up

The Recipe: From Foreign Desserts for English Tables (available here)

The Date: 1862

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 1hr 30.

How successful was it?:  Very nice indeed, a lovely translucent jelly with a rosy colour (it was less orange than it looks in the pictures).

How accurate?: Pretty good I think, with the exception of the sugar maybe?


The Cook and the Curator on medlars and medlar cheese

Theodore Garrett’s Medlar Cheese

The Old Foodie on medlars and medlar tarts

 Medlar Jelly, recipe from 1862

[1] The Author of Everybody’s Pudding Book, Foreign Desserts for English Tables, by the Author of “Everbody”s Pudding Book’. (London: Richard Bentley, 1862), 147.


The Author of Everybody’s Pudding Book. Foreign Desserts for English Tables, by the Author of “Everbody”s Pudding Book’. London: Richard Bentley, 1862.

In a Jelly

Lemon Jelly, recipe from 1748

This is just a quick extra post, following up on my promise for the In a Jam challenge to provide the recipe for Lemon Jelly which I made. I had a surplus of lemons and as I was researching marmalade recipes for the challenge a couple of weeks ago I came across several rather intriguing recipes for Lemon Jelly.

It’s a jelly in the American sense of the word, as in a spreadable preserve rather than a semi-solid, wobbly dessert. In preserving terms, the use of jelly instead of jam means that it is made from the juice of the fruit, rather than the pulp which makes jellies much smoother but less efficient than jams. Typically in a jelly the fruit is cooked to release the juices, then strained through muslin for several hours to separate the juice from the pulp. The juice is then re-cooked with sugar until it reaches the setting point before being poured into hot jars.

These recipes are quite unusual, however, because two of them contain egg-whites.[1] Beacause of the difficulty in interpreting the recipe which I used, and because I would like to try the other recipes first, I have not given a redaction, but if you would like to try making the jelly it should be easy enough to follow my steps with the quantities given.

The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book and Compleat Family Cook (4th ed. 1748 available as a PDF here) by Mrs. Sarah Harrison of Devonshire offers three recipes for Lemon Jelly (like the marmalade it is served in glasses as part of the dessert course).


The first recipe:

“TAKE five large Lemons and squeeze out the Juice, and beat the Whites of six Eggs very well; put to it twenty Spoonfuls of Spring Water, and ten Ounces of double-refin’d Sugar beat and sifted; mix all together, and strain it through a Jelly Bag, and set it over a gentle Fire, with a bit of Lemon-peel in it; stir it all the while, and skim it very clean; when it is as hot as you can bear your Finger in it, take it off, and take out the Peel, and pour your Jelly into Glasses.”[2]


The second recipe:

“TAKE three large Lemons, or four small ones, cut them in half, and take out all the Meat, and put it into a silver Pot; put as much Water as the Skin of your Lemons will hold into them, and let them stand three quarters of an Hour; then take the Whites of four Eggs, beat them very well, and let them stand till the Froth is fallen, strain your Lemons upon a Pound of double-refin’d refin’d[sic] Sugar broke into Lumps, let it stand till it is quite melted, then put in your Eggs well skimm’d being first strain’d through a thin Cotton Cloth; stir it till it will jelly, and take out your Peel before you put it in the Dish. You must see that your Lemons be free from Spots, or else your Jelly will not be white.”[3]


The third recipe:

“TAKE the best Lemons without Seeds, peel off the Rinds, and put the Meat in Quarters, having a Care of breaking the Skins; then take their Weight in double-refin’d Sugar, put your Sugar into a silver Bason [sic], and put it upon the Fire with as much Water as will wet it, and stir it till it comes to a clear Syrup; in the mean Time you must have your Lemon Quarters in another silver Dish upon the Fire, with as much Water as will keep them wet, and let them boil till they are tender; then put them into the Bason [sic] of Syrup, and set them on a soft Fire to heat, but not boil; as soon as ever they begin to simmer the least that can be, take them off, and shake them, and let them not be on the Fire again till they are pretty cold (for if they boyl they are spoil’d); and so continue setting them on and off till the Syrup will jelly; and then either put up the Jelly by itself in Glasses, and put the Quarters on a glass Sheet to dry, or on a Slieve [sic] in the Sun, or glass the Quarters and the Jelly all together, for they will do well both Ways.”[4]

Lemon Jelly, recipe from 1748

My Process

I used the second recipe which calls for three large or four small, spotless lemons. I cut them in half and spooned out all the pulp that I could. I placed the pulp into a saucepan, filled each half lemon with water and poured the water into the saucepan. I then left this to stand for 45 mins.


Whilst waiting for the pulp to be ready, I beat the whites of four eggs. This for me was the main problem with the recipe, it sounds like you beat the eggs to peaks and then allow them to drop, but does that even work? Or do you just beat it until slightly foamy? I beat it until I had foamy, very soft peaks on top, but after standing for a while there was also liquid underneath. On reflection I think it would be better to whisk it until it was a bubbly liquid, but maybe it is possible to allow it to drop by leaving more time.


Having beaten my eggs I strained the lemon pulp through muslin onto 450g of sugar with a piece of lemon peel (this is mentioned later in the recipe to be removed so I think it’s just missing the instruction to add it in). After gently stirring the mixture over a low heat until the sugar was dissolved I then added the egg whites by straining them through muslin into the saucepan. This is where it quickly became apparent that they were too well whipped. The liquid was easily incorporated into the jelly, as was some of the froth but most was not and had to be skimmed off the top of the jelly. I then cooked it until it reached setting point, removed the piece of lemon peel and poured it into dessert glasses.


Given what seemed to be an awful mistake, the jelly turned out remarkably well. It was one of the most delicious preserves I’ve ever eaten with a flavour similar to lemon-sorbet and the most delightful, effervescent texture. It felt light and bubbly on the tongue, an effect which I think must be because of the egg whites. It really was like Spring for the palate!

Lemon Jelly, recipe from 1748


Harrison, Sarah. The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book; And Compleat Family Cook. 4th ed. London: Printed for R. Ware, at the Bible and Sun on Ludgate-Hill, 1748.


[1] Warning: If you are in an ‘at risk’ group (babies, toddlers, pregnant women, elderly people or the immune-compromised) for raw egg please don’t try the recipes containing raw egg.

[2] Sarah Harrison, The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book; And Compleat Family Cook, 4th ed. (London: Printed for R. Ware, at the Bible and Sun on Ludgate-Hill, 1748), 148.

[3] Ibid., 148–149.

[4] Ibid., 149.

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



  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.



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 


[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.


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.

Pumpkins and Pompions

Its winter in Australia, and that means one thing. Pumpkin! I have to admit that pumpkin is one of my favourite ingredients because it is just so versatile. It can be used in sweet or savoury dishes, from curry to cake and let’s face it, at less than $1 per kilo during the season its great value too. This week for the Seasonal Fruit and Vegetable challenge (you can read more about the Historical Food Fortnightly challenges here) I’m offering a selection of pumpkin recipes for your delectation.


Pumpkins at Bathurst. Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Pumpkins at Bathurst. Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

But first, a quick history of the pumpkin. Native to the Americas they had been a staple food for centuries before the arrival of the colonists (who called them ‘pompions’). Thanks to the ease of cultivation and high yields they quickly became an essential part of the colonists’ diet in a variety of guises: stewed, baked, turned into soups, added to stews or baked into pies. Nonetheless, in spite of its role in early American myth, pumpkin remained a food primarily for the poor, celebrated in times of dearth[1].


Pumpkins were also stigmatised in Europe where they were grown primarily as animal fodder or food for the impoverished. The pumpkin seeds transported on the First Fleet in 1788 may have simply been intended as animal feed, or perhaps cheap, abundant food. Nonetheless, the plants thrived in the Australian climate and Marine officer Watkin Tench described them growing “with unbounded luxuriancy”[2] even in Sydney where the soil had generally proved a disappointment. Once again, a variety of dishes were made, even baked whole in the fire as depicted in Richard Wingfield Stuart’s paintings of bush camps which you can see here and here.


It wasn’t really until the 19th century though that cooks popularised some of the more iconic pumpkin recipes including pumpkin scones, pumpkin jam and boiled pumpkin fruit cake (the mashed pumpkin adds tenderness and moisture)[3].


So next time you see pumpkin on sale, why not try one of these three Australian historical recipes? I haven’t provided redactions because once again they seem very straight forward.



Stewed Pumpkin Dark Corners


To Cook Pumpkin – Cut a pumpkin into several pieces, pare it, and take out the seed: cut it equally into small squares one inch in size, blanch them in boiling water, drain, put into a stew-pan with enough butter, parsley, sliced onions, pepper and salt to taste. Toss it over the fire till tender, then serve with rich melted butter, or a thick brown gravy.[4]


This recipe made a nice side dish, very simple and tasty!


A recipe for pumpkin scones:- One cup of boiled pumpkin (any left over from the day previous can be used), two cups of flour, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder, a little salt and sugar, and a piece of butter the size of a walnut. Rub the butter and pumpkin into the flour, and add the other ingredients: then mix with milk, and bake in a quick oven.[5]


Pumpkin Scones

These made lovely, airy scones with a delicate orange blush. Perfect with butter, or pumpkin jam (see below)! In terms of proportions I used 1 cup of mashed pumpkin, 2 cups of flour, 30g butter, about 1/2 cup of milk, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt. I rubbed the butter into the flour, then mixed in the pumpkin followed by the remaining dry ingredients. I then added enough milk to make a soft, pliable dough. I rolled it out quite thick, cut into circles, brushed with milk and baked at 180˚C for about 15 mins.


The final recipe for this fortnight is a rather unusual one. It is a recipe for pumpkin jam, but instead of being slowly cooked on the stove the ingredients are put in a casserole dish and baked in the oven. This is a technique that I have only seen a couple of times (as a non-historical side note, this technique is used in this recipe for the most amazing plum butter you have ever tasted) and never for pumpkin. The inclusion of vinegar is also a bit odd, so I just had to try it.

Pumpkin Jam

A Pumpkin “Jam” – Just Pumpkin, Vinegar and Sugar

A country woman wrote me the other day that she was almost ashamed to contribute her pet recipe to our columns, but it is so good that if my friends will but make some, they will bless the contributor, who says :- “We call it pumpkin butter, and the sweet or pie pumpkins are the best for it, although almost any pumpkin will do. Stew it, and when it is tender, add to each gallon of pulp a cupful of vinegar and six cupfuls of sugar. Instead of baking your face stirring this over a fire, put it in a stone crock, or if that is too small a granite iron dishpan, and let it cook in the oven, while you are washing or ironing, or otherwise using the fire. It will save an extra fire and the flavour of the pumpkin butter will be better. It should cook till thick enough to stand in a saucer without being juicy, and then it is good enough to make any time. The baking gives it a distinctive flavour, and if you will recall the difference between stewed and baked apples you will be more ready to try this labour and fire-saving way of making pumpkin butter.[6]


The country contributor was right, this is definitely a very easy way of making pumpkin butter, although it is perhaps a bit plain for modern tastes. I would have like to have added something to spice it up a little: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and maybe even a little lime juice. Nonetheless, I was surprised at how successful it was, I have to admit that I wasn’t sure it would work at all. Again, for the proportions I used about a kilo of pumpkin which gave me 2 cups of pulp. I mixed that with 1/6 cup of plain, white vinegar and 1 cup of sugar and baked at 180˚C for about an hour. You need to keep an eye on it to make sure that the bottom doesn’t burn, and you know that it is ready when a little spoonful on a plate doesn’t seep water. Serve hot or cold with scones or fruit bread.

The Recipe: Stewed Pumpkin (available here); Pumpkin Scones (available here); Pumpkin Jam (available here)

The Date: 1907; 1902; 1912

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 30 mins; 30 mins; 1 1/2 hrs

How successful was it?: All three were very tasty. The stewed pumpkin looked somewhat unappetizing but tasted very good while the pumpkin jam could have used some spices. The scones, however, were pretty much perfect.

How accurate?: I think they were pretty accurate, it’s certainly a lot easier using more modern recipes!


Pumpkin Scones


[1] Cindy Ott, Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon (University of Washington Press, 2012), 6.

[2] Watkin Tench, A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson in New South Wales (London: G. Nicol and J. Sewell, 1793), chap. XVII.

[3] Barbara Santich, Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage (South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2012), 10–11.

[4] “SELECTED RECIPES.,” The Corowa Chronicle, July 6, 1907.

[5] “MORE USES FOR PUMPKIN.,” The Sydney Morning Herald, June 15, 1920.

[6] “A PUMPKIN ‘JAM.’ Just Pumpkin, Vinegar and Sugar.,” The Farmer and Settler, July 9, 1912.



“A PUMPKIN ‘JAM.’ Just Pumpkin, Vinegar and Sugar.” The Farmer and Settler. July 9, 1912.

“MORE USES FOR PUMPKIN.” The Sydney Morning Herald. June 15, 1920.

Ott, Cindy. Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon. University of Washington Press, 2012.

Santich, Barbara. Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage. South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2012.

“SELECTED RECIPES.” The Corowa Chronicle. July 6, 1907.

Tench, Watkin. A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson in New South Wales. London: G. Nicol and J. Sewell, 1793.