Old Lemonade, Iced Tea, and Currant Punch Recipes

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, June 29, 1912:  Put the hammock up this morning after having quite a time with Ruthie. She’s my boss absolute. It’s gotten very hot now.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Sisters!  Was the disagreement about the hammock or something else?

Grandma’s mother bought the hammock the previous day. With the weather turning hot—it sounds like she bought it at the perfect time.

Laying in the hammock with a cool drink sounds like the perfect way to spend a hot summer day.

Here’s a couple recipes for cold drinks from a 1912 cookbook:

Lemonade

Boil two cups of sugar and four cups water until a rich sirup is formed. Add one cup lemon juice. Dilute with ice water.

Iced Tea

Make tea. Serve in glasses with crushed ice, with one tablespoon lemon juice in each glass.

Current Punch

4 cups currant juice

4 cups sugar

12 cups water

6 lemons

6 oranges

2 cups tea

Boil sugar and water five minutes; add tea, juice, lemons and oranges sliced, and a large piece of ice.

Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

18 Responses

  1. wow! That must have been quite a lemonade.

  2. Mmmmm… good…. iced tea, a good book, and a hammock – sounds wonderful. A couple of years ago my sister and I were hiking deep into the woods when we were startled to come across a woman reading in a hammock.

  3. “Sisters!” is right. ;-) Those beverages look and sound soooo inviting. Hope your grandmother got to have something similar with her in that hammock.

  4. This post reminds me of when I was a very young child. We still had an ice box, and the ice man came around with huge blocks of ice. We always ran to greet him because he let us have the little chunks that flew off when he cut it.

    Thanks for the recipes.

    P.S. I know I had a great-grand uncle who used to harvest ice up in Maine. That was a very brutal job for sure.

    • Several years ago I read a book about harvesting ice in the old days. It was absolutely fascinating how they used store and ship ice.

      When I wrote this post, I actually wondered whether Grandma’s family would have had access to ice on the farm during the summer months.

      • Ice: I believe Frederic Tudor the “Ice King” was the first to harvest ice (1856) in the country in Cambridge, MA – Fresh Pond (my home) and he began the notion of refrigeration and shipped ice to tropical countries (hard to believe possible) packed in hay. He lessened deaths from spoiled food. I read about it in school.

        • I looked at the online library catalog and the book that I read was called The Frozen Water Trade by Gavin Weightman. I think that it told about Frederic Tudor. It is amazing how they used to ship ice.

  5. Love the recipes but love your grandmother’s poetic way with words “boss absolute”.

  6. Ahh, and having quite a time with Ruthie, was she? Seems to be a regular occurence — the pain and glory of having sisters.

  7. Yes they had ice. An ice man would come and deliver ice every day because they had milk to keep cool. The extra milk was always sold. You have got me thinking, I will try to find out when they started manufacturing ice. I remember my aunts talking about the ice man and how they would wait for him to come in the summer time to get a piece of ice from him. My mother was the next to the youngest out of 9 childern and she was born in 1917 and her oldest sister was 20 years older then her. She grew up on a farm in Pa.

    • Thanks for the information. I hadn’t thought about how they kept milk cold back then. I bet farmers were major customers for the ice men.

      I think that some farms may have had “spring houses” that cold water flowed through. On those farms the milk cans would be put in the water.

      • By 1900 manufacturing of ice was big busness. According to the 1920 census it was the 9th largest employer in the country. The first patents for ice making came out in the 1850’s. Things were getting into full swing in 1880’s because produce and foods were being shipped in railroad cars packed with ice so spoilage was kept to a minimum. Butchers and general stores had ice boxes to keep meat and dairy in the 1880’s. Jello was a $250,000.00 business in 1902. In 1904 they printed 15 million pamphlets with recipes. 1909 Jello had earnings over a million dollars. My guess would be they bought ice and the kitchen probably had a ice box. I was curious so I looked it up. I knew jello was around before WWI so I looked that up too. Jello just verified how important the ice box had become in the average home between 1900 and 1910. Jello only sold for a few pennies a box.

        • Wow, this is really interesting. I never would have guessed how large the ice manufacturing industry back then. It was huge!

          I’ve seen lots of advertisements for jello and Knox gelatin in 1912 magazines, but until I read your comment I never thought about how the popularity of jello was closely related to the popularity of ice boxes.

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