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Orng-Lmn-drks-art - 4/11/07


"Orange and Lemon Drinks of Summer" by THL Johnnae llyn Lewis, CE.


NOTE: See also the files: beverages-NA-msg, jalabs-msg, infusions-msg, bev-water-msg, cider-art, kvass-msg, perry-msg, caudles-art, Ale-a-Beer-lnks.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set

of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at:



Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be

reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first

or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


                               Thank you,

                                    Mark S. Harris

                                    AKA:  Stefan li Rous

                                         stefan at florilegium.org



Orange and Lemon Drinks of Summer

by THL Johnnae llyn Lewis, CE


Many men putte þerto in somer þe Iuse of lymons or of orenges. [Many men put thereto in summer the juice of lemons or of oranges.]

Chauliac 2(Paris angl. 25 156a/b) c1425


      The question arose on the online SCA-Cooks list again last spring as to what non-alcoholic drinks did they imbibe in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Quite quickly it can be determined that in England they drank mead, metheglin, ale, beer, wine, fermented cider and perry, as well as distilled spirits. In terms of non-alcoholic drinks: water (including barley water), milk, whey, and buttermilk are mentioned. Tea, coffee and chocolate for drinking are well documented as being increasingly popular only in the mid to late 17th century. [Starbucks has nothing on the coffee houses of the Restoration.]


      The search began for orange and lemon drinks that more closely resemble those of today. In 1659 W.M. included distilled orange water. The recipe reads:

To make Orangewater.

Take a pottle of the best Malligo Sack, and put in as many of the peels of Oranges as will go in, cut the white clean off, let them steep twenty four hours; still them in a glass still, and let the water run into the receiver upon fine Sugar-candy; you may still it in an ordinary still.

Likewise, the Leamon Wine found in the Tudor-Jacobean manuscript (edited as Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery) is again mildly alcoholic. Digby in 1675 includes a barley water flavored with the juice of an orange, but the recipe seems far more barley than orange in its flavors. It reads:

A Cooling Drink in a Fever.

Take a Gallon of Spring-water, five Spoonfuls of French Barley, half a pound of the best blue Currants, let it boil softly till a quart be consumed; then take two handfuls of Wood-Sorrel, as much of Roman Sorrel; bruise them well, and let them infuse one hour, then take it off and strain it through a Sieve; drink of this with the juice of an Orange, and a little fine Sugar.

      But what about lemonade and its lesser cousin orangeade? Food historian C. Anne Wilson states with certainty that “Lemonade was a French invention.” OED notes that –ade words are formed to indicate that they are “the product of an action, and, by extension, that of any process or raw material.” One early form was pomade which lost out to the word cider as meaning a drink made of apples or pomme. Under “lemonade” the earliest quotation in the OED only dates to 1663; “orangeade” is dated to 1706.


      Food historians, of course, can do better in the contest to find earlier quotations. The most popular and the earliest printed source for both lemonade and orangeade recipes in England appears in the 1653 edition of La Varenne’s The French Cook. Only two years earlier La Varenne’s Le Cuisinier Francois had swept Paris. There quickly followed volumes titled Le Patissier Francois and Le Confiturier Francois which were also attributed to La Varenne. This last French volume includes recipes for both Limonade and Orangeade.

      The English version of the recipe reads as follows:


        How to Make Lemonade.
It is made several waies, according to the diversity of the
ingredients. For to make it with Jasmin, you must take of it about
two handful, infuse it in two or three quarts of water the space
of eight or ten houres; then to one quart of water you shall put
six ounces of sugar. Those of orange flowers, of muscade roses,
and of gelliflowers, are made after the same way. For to make
that of lemon, take some lemons, cut them, and take out the juice,
put it in water as abovesaid. Pare another lemon, cut it into slices,
put it among this juice, and some sugar proportionably.
That of orange is made the same way.
Francois Pierre La Varenne. The French Cook. 1653. pp. 238-239.
        Terence Scully in his new and highly recommended English translation of La Varenne writes of Orangeade : “It is made in the same way as the Lemonade, except it doesn’t take any lemons.” (page 494)
        What makes food history so interesting and vexing is that another alternative version of lemonade’s history may be found. Clifford Wright who is the author a number of popular Mediterranean cookbooks has a “History of Lemonade” posted on his website. He writes:
"It appears that the all-American summer drink, lemonade, may have had its origin in medieval Egypt. Although the lemon originates farther to the east, and lemonade may very well have been invented in one of the eastern countries, the earliest written evidence of lemonade comes from Egypt. The first reference to the lemon in Egypt is in the chronicles of the Persian poet and traveler Nasir-i-Khusraw (1003-1061?), who left a valuable account of life in Egypt under the Fatamid caliph al-Mustansir (1035-1094). The trade in lemon juice was quite considerable by 1104. We know from documents in the Cairo Geniza--records of the medieval Jewish community in Cairo from the tenth through thirteenth centuries--that bottles of lemon juice, qatarmizat, were made with lots of sugar and consumed locally and exported."

        So are lemonade and orangeade mid 17th century drinks that are hinted at in earlier mentions of juice in summer or is lemonade an indirect descendant of a Jewish drink known as qatarmizat? Shall we pour and enjoy a tall glass of lemonade while we investigate further?


Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University       Press, 1999.


Digby, Kenelm. Choice and Experimented Receipts in Physick and Chirurgery. London, 1675.


La Varenne, Francois Pierre. Le Cuisinier Francois. 1651. Edited by Jean-Louis       Flandrin, Philip and Mary Hyman. Paris: Montalba, 1983. [From the       Bibliotheque Bleue collection, this contains all works attributed to La       Varenne in French.]


La Varenne, Francois Pierre. La Varenne’s Cookery.  Translated and Edited by Terrence Scully. Totnes, UK: Prospect Books, 2006. [This new English translation contains all the works attributed to la Varenne.]


La Varenne, Francois Pierre. The French Cook. 1653. Lewes, East Sussex, U.K.: Southover Press, 2001. [Reprint of the 1653 edition that was translated by I.D.G. Philip and Mary Hyman provide a valuable introduction to this edition..]


M. , W.  The Queens Closet Opened. London. 1659.


Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery. Edited with commentary by Karen Hess. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.


Scully, Terence. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages.  Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 1995.


Wilson, C. Anne. Food and Drink in Britain. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1974. p. 357.


Online sources included the following academic databases:

Middle English Dictionary Online. MED Online.

The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. OED Online.

Early English Books Online. EEBO and EEBO-TCP.


Clifford Wright’s alternative version of lemonade’s history may be found on his web page http://www.cliffordawright.com/history/lemonade.html


Versions of this article appeared in:

Mead Meat & More volume 2, issue 2, Spring 2007


“Orange and Lemon Drinks of Summer” pp.4-6, and in the Barony of Cynnabar’s newsletter The Citadel in August/September 2006.


Copyright 2007 by Johnna H. Holloway. <Johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in

the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also

appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being

reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org