To preserve Oranges, after the Portugal fashion

I do not have access to sour oranges. Since this is an experiment, I am going to try them with blood orange, because they are only in season for  a few more weeks at best.

Take Oranges and core them on the side and lay them in water, then boil them in faire water till they be tender, shift them in the boiling to take away their bitterness, then take sugar and boil it to the height of syrup as much as will cover them, and so put your oranges into it, and that will make them take sugar. If you have 24 Oranges, beat 8 of them, till they come to paste, with a pound of fine sugar, then fill every one of the other oranges with the same, and so boil them again in your syrup: then there will be marmalade of Oranges within your oranges, and it will cut like an hard egg.[1]

The blood oranges I found were a bit on the sour side, so they would do for this exercise. I cored 6 oranges 2 of which would be beaten into a paste with sugar. I used 2x refined sugar for this experiments.

Cored and ready for boiling.
photo 1

Post boil, stuffed.
photo 2

Sugar bath
photo 3

Finished product
photo 4

I would definitely do this again. I learned the bigger the ring, the easier they stayed up and resisted cracking when the sugar boiled over the tops of them. I also learned that oranges float, so you cannot have too much liquid (aka cover the oranges). But sugar will rise and cover the tops of the sugar. Filling the pan 2/3 up the orange is sufficient for complete coverage and total saturation. Also all oranges ended up the same color in the end. Variations on the skin all evened out to the same dark orange.  Filling is a little loose. I dont know if the breed of orange makes a difference or if there was too much liquid in the pulpy filling.  Total cooking time 3 hours.  This resulted in 4 oranges, 2 of which I am happy with their appearance.  I can see where this would be better in bulk.

[1] Platt, Hugh. “The Arte Of Preserving Conserving, Candying.” Delights for Ladies: To Adorne Their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distillatories with Beauties, Banquets, Perfumes, and Waters. Reade, Practise, and Censure. London: Humfrey Lownes, 1609.

To make a conserve of flowers- Gilliflowers

The English gilliflower was popular as a flower used in confections.  It is the ancestor of the carnation. Typically clove pink , it has a hint of clove flavor profile in the petals. I was able to find some organic carnations at our flower show.  They were a dark pink/burgundy variety.  It was used in two preparations, conserve and syrup.  Both preparations were made with the 2x refined sugar purchased from a Grocer/Sutler, made with an 18th century processing technique. This gives the final product a diverse flavor profile of sweet, but not modern sugar sweet and floral.
petals

“To make conserve of flowers, as roses, violets, gilliflowers, and such like you shall take the flowers from the stalks  and with a pair of shears cut away the white ends at the roots thereof, and then put them into a stone mortar or wooden brake and there crush or beat them til the be come to a soft substance, and then to every pound thereof, take a pound of fie refined sugar well searced and beat it together, til it comes to one entire body; and then put it up an use it as occasion shall serve.”[1]
prep conserve
This is a very nice thick paste. But very sweet and should be used sparingly  It will make a good accent for wafers.

The syrup is a beautiful royal purple color.  Since the sugar is only 2x refined, you can see a few of the impurities I missed in the skimming process. It still has a pleasant, complex flavor.
Carnation-Syrup

[1]Markham, Gervase, and Michael R. Best. The English Housewife: Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman … Montreal: McGill-Queen’s U, 1998. Print. p. 117

To candie Orenge pilles

I had left over peels from making an orange primrose syrup, so I candied them.

“Take your Orange peels, after they be preserved: then take fine sugar and Rosewater, and boil it to the height of Manus Christi, then draw through your sugar, then lay them on the bottom of a sieve, and dry them in an oven after you have drawn bread, and they will be candied.” [1]
The oranges were simmered to within an inch of their lives during the syrup process.  This made them very soft and super easy to clean. Once the oranges were cool, I cut the flesh and pith away from the rind, and set them aside to cool and dry completely.

Several hours later, I made a solution of equal parts sugar and water. I brought the whole pot up to a boil. I added the orange peels at this stage. This gives me less of a chance for the peels to cause an impurity effect of over boilage. I gradually raised the temperature of the sugar from boil to Manus Christi height. This process took almost an hour. By the time they hit 240, the peels were nearly translucent.  Peels were arranged on a tray and left to air dry on the counter. I did not oven cure them, as the kitchen was very warm due to the 4 bead torches being used.  A few hours later they were completely cool and dried.

I omitted the rose water from the recipe as I had none at hand. This was a great recipe to use what would have otherwise become a waste product.

1. Platt, Hugh. “The Arte Of Preserving Conserving, Candying.” Delights for Ladies: To Adorne Their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distillatories with Beauties, Banquets, Perfumes, and Waters. Reade, Practise, and Censure. London: Humfrey Lownes, 1609.

How to candy Rosemary flowers, Rose leaves, Roses, Marigolds, &c. with preservation of colour

Any time you work with medieval recipes and sugar, you play a guessing game for what stage they want you to bring your sugar solution up to.

Dissolve refined or double refined sugar, or sugar candy itself in a little Rosewater, boil it to a reasonable height, put in your roots or flowers when your syrup is either fully cold, or almost cold, let them rest therein till the syrup has pierced them sufficiently, then take out your flowers with a skimmer, suffering the loose syrup to rune from them so long as it will, boil that syrup a little more, and put in more flowers, as before, divide them also, then boil all the syrup which remains, and is not drunk up in the flowers, to the height of manus Christi, putting in more sugar if you see cause, but no more Rosewater, put in your flowers therein when your syrup is cold, or almost cold, and let them stand till they candy.[1]

So in the first part of this recipe, we take the the sugar up to a “reasonable height”. Since it is talking about a syrup, it sounds like it is to the thread stage, sugar concentration: 80%. This stage is still mostly liquid and not actually candy. In the second part of the recipe we take the sugar to Manus Christi height, or firm ball stage sugar concentration: 87%. As it cools, put the flowers in and wait until it gets hard. This should result in a candy with very vibrant color. The petals will be saturated with sugar, and the texture of the sugar candy should be light.

1. Platt, Hugh. “The Arte Of Preserving Conserving, Candying.” Delights for Ladies: To Adorne Their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distillatories with Beauties, Banquets, Perfumes, and Waters. Reade, Practise, and Censure. London: Humfrey Lownes, 1609.