Limonade and Lemonada


It’s Week 1 of the 2019 Great Colonial Cook Off. WOOT! WOOT!

To our hard-core Cook Off fans … welcome back! We’ve missed you guys and can’t wait to see what culinary wonders you’ll pull-off this year. To all you Cook Off newbies … a great big welcome! It’s great to have you along for what we hope will be another super fun (if slightly bonkers) season of 17th century cooking.

But enough with the gushing sentiment. It’s time for this week’s recipe. In keeping with tradition, we’re starting the season off with a beverage. And since summer recently arrived on Newfoundland’s southern Avalon (like, arrived literally yesterday), We thought we’d kick things off with the quintessential summer drink - lemonade. And just to keep things interesting, we’re offering a choice of two variations: a simple, straight-up lemonade, and a second, more “adult” version. The choice is yours.

Our first 17th century recipe comes to us courtesy of The French Confectioner, published anonymously in 1660. While there’s no way of knowing for sure, some have attributed the work to François Pierre de la Varenne (c. 1615–1678) whose watershed book The French Cook was the first to define French cooking as we know it today.

A recipe for limonade from  The French Confectioner  (1660)

A recipe for limonade from The French Confectioner (1660)

Some of you might remember Varenne from last year’s trio of roast chicken stock/consomme/jelly recipes. Fortunately, this week’s recipe for lemonade is a whole lot easier than consommé and a WHOLE lot more appetizing than chicken jello. Here it is in English translation:


Get a pint of water and into it put half a pound of sugar, the juice of six lemons and two oranges, the peel of half a lemon and an orange that you have pressed; blend the water well in two very clean vessels, pouring it back and forth several times from one into the other, and strain it through a white serviette.

And here’s a 21st century translation (Note: If you don’t want to sacrifice 6 lemons, feel free to cut the recipe in half):


  • 500 ml or 2 cups water

  • 6 lemons

  • 2 oranges

  • 225 g or 1 cup sugar


  • Zest half a lemon and EITHER half OR a whole orange (depending on how you read the original recipe). If you have a zester or microplane you’re all set. If not, no worries. Just carefully remove the peel with a knife, leaving as much of the white pith behind as possible. Then finely chop the peel.

  • Chop and juice the lemons and oranges

  • Combine the zest, juice, sugar and water in one of two jugs. Mix by pouring the liquid from one jug into the other until the sugar has dissolved. Alternatively, feel free to chuck the whole lot into the jug of a blender and whizz. ‘Cause if you got it, you might as well use it!

  • Strain your lemonade through cheesecloth, a pudding bag or a fine mesh sieve

  • Pour and serve!


If you’ve been following along on Facebook you probably noticed that Lori and Krista soaked their lemons and oranges in boiling water before zesting and juicing. This removes any wax from their peel AND softens the fruit up for easier juicing. Lori also swears that it helps release the oil in the citrus peel.

In their first attempt, Lori and Krista TRIPLED the amount of water from 500 ml or 2 cups to 1.5 litres or 6 cups and then doubled the sugar to 450 g or 2 cups. Lori said she preferred it a little less sweet, but visitors to the kitchen that afternoon didn’t complain.

Inside the Colony’s Kitchen …. Our first brave taste-testers!

Inside the Colony’s Kitchen …. Our first brave taste-testers!

Lori & Krista’s first attempt with double the sugar and triple the amount of water. Note the difference in colour and consistency from the original recipe pictured at the top of the post.

Lori & Krista’s first attempt with double the sugar and triple the amount of water. Note the difference in colour and consistency from the original recipe pictured at the top of the post.

Variation No. 2

Our second Lemonade recipe was found in an anonymous 17th - 18th century English cookbook from the Wellcome Library collection, and goes like this:


Take 4 quarts of renish wine, 3 quarts of water, brew it with 3 pounds of sugar, the juice of 12 lemons and 6 oranges, 2 drams of cinnamon, a race of ginger, one nutmeg cut in quarters, and 6 grains of amber.


Here’s our best guess at a 21st century version (NOTE: The total amount has been reduced to just under one quarter the original):


  • 650 ml of white wine (a German Reisling will be closest to the original, but the choice is yours)

  • 450ml water

  • 225g granulated sugar (roughly 1 cup)

  • Juice of 2 lemons

  • Juice of 1 orange

  • 5 cm stick of cinnamon

  • 1/4 nutmeg in 1 piece

  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, sliced thinly


  • Put all of the ingredients into a pan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved

  • Bring to the boil, cover and remove from the heat

  • Steep until cool

  • Strain to remove solids and chill until ready to serve ….. or serve over ice

You’ll notice that we’ve omitted the amber from our modern version. To be honest, we’re not 100 percent sure what it refers to …. Ambergris, which is a waxy substance that originates as a secretion in the intestines of the sperm whales, or amber, which is a fossilized tree resin. Believe it or not, both of these substances were used in 17th century cooking! We have no idea if or how the addition of these would impact the final taste, but since most of us won’t be able to find either at our local grocery store, we’ve just left it out.

So there you have it. Two versions of 17th century limonade… er … lemonda … er … lemonade! Make one or, if you’re a real keener, try both. As always, snap a photo of your lemonade and post it on the Colony’s Facebook page for a chance to win the weekly and grand prize. Up for grabs this week? The Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernile. Good luck!

Thanks again to Colemans - sponsor of the 2019 Great Colonial Cook Off.

Jane SeversComment