The Ladies' Tea Guild

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Orange Jelly from 1852

Image from
Happy New Year!  I hope 2013 has been good to you so far.  In my research (see my last post from December 28th) I've been re-reading a lot of Gold Rush-era American newspapers and magazines (Google Books is my friend!) including Godey's Lady's Book. Because of letters to the editor from "California correspondents", we know that Californians were reading the Lady's Book during the Gold Rush, and probably followed the recipes printed in each issue.  Oranges will be coming into season in Northern California this month, so here is a ca. 1852 recipe from Godey's for a good midwinter dessert: Orange Jelly.

“Oranges are not very plentiful in midwinter, but sometimes, when a dessert dish is required in dearth of other materials, housekeepers will find the following an excellent practical receipt: for orange jelly, take ten oranges and three lemons, peel three of the former as thinly as possible, put the peel in a stewpan, and squeeze over it the juice of all the oranges and lemons; then clarify half a pound of sugar, pour the juice and peel upon it, and boil up the whole; then strain the syrup, and add half an ounce of isinglass, previously dissolved in half a pint of water.  Simmer two hours, then strain.  This is always in season in our Southern cities.”

Having ten oranges and three lemons are easy if you're one of the Californians who have an orange tree and lemon tree in your yard!  Large bags of oranges can also be purchased in some grocery stores at this time of the year.  Fresh orange jelly/gelatin dessert would make a tasty and attractive addition to the table, although you could use the stuff that comes in a box.  This would be the time to look for fancy Jell-o molds or other shaped containers, and turn the jelly out of the mold once it sets; fancy gelatin molds were being made into the 1960s, but you could also use a fancy cake pan or ice cream mold, if you have one. 


Steph said...

I made pomello marmalade last winter. An interesting experiment!

South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild said...

Pomelo marmalade sounds really good! I'm going to try making orange marmalade and Meyer lemon marmalade this winter, once our oranges and lemons are ripe. I'll also be making Meyer lemon curd, so my fridge and pantry will be full of jars! But I'll have plenty of Christmas gifts for next year.

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)