What was the most elegant treat a Philadelphian could serve to celebrate the Declaration of Independence? According to colonial confectioner Patrick Wright, a candied lemon or orange.
In 1776 lemons and oranges were imported from Europe. Almost immediately after they were unloaded onto the port of Philadelphia, these expensive delicacies were preserved. The fruit, or just the peel, was boiled in water, strained, and then immersed in a simple syrup of sugar and water.
Sugar was another imported luxury, brought from the sugar cane plantations of Jamaica. This contributed to the expense of the sweetmeats.
You may enjoy a taste of the past this Fourth of July with this easy recipe.
Adapted from Patrick Wright.
- 4 fresh oranges
- 6 fresh lemons
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups sugar
- Peel the oranges and lemons and place the peels in a saucepan.
- Cover the peels with cold water and bring the water to a boil.
- Pour the fruit into a colander, and then rinse with cold running water. Repeat this process three times.
- Once you have removed the bitterness from the peels, place them into a saucepan. Add six cups of sugar and four cups of water.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cover the pot with aluminum foil, and allow to steep overnight.
- Remove the peels from the syrup, sprinkle with sugar, and allow to dry.