In our modern era where portable water flavourings are all the rage, I find this Victorian recipe to be quite ahead of its time. What I love about food history is finding unique recipes like this one and seeing how innovative people in the past really were.
The second thing I love about food history is actually trying out historical recipes. Reading the recipe, I thought this would make something like lemon sugar, but it actually makes a syrup. I wouldn't have known that without actually making the recipe. Anyway, this is a tasty syrup, but the proportions given in the original recipe make for barely flavoured lemon water. I found 4 - 5 teaspoons per cup of water to be nice, but it depends on personal preference. I also didn't find I needed extra sourness form citric acid.
(Adapted from Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book)
4 large LEMONS
1 pound SUGAR
CITRIC ACID, optional*
1. Zest and juice the lemons. Mix this with the sugar. After tasting, if it is too sweet, add a little citric acid to taste. Keep in a jar.
2. To serve, use about one tablespoon per one cup of water. Shake before using, because the sugar will settle.
*Note: If you want to reduce the sweetness, but don't want to go out and buy a bunch of citric acid, a crushed vitamin C tablet or the powdered form will do in a pinch. Vitamin C is actually ascorbic acid, but it acts in much the same was as citric acid, by providing a sour taste. You could also try Fruit Fresh or a similar preserving/anti-browning agent, which usually contains both ascorbic and citric acids.
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