Tudor Marinated Oranges

With their lack of fridges and no real bacterial explanation available as yet for why food really went bad, the Tudors were great at preserving, and used sugar syrup to help make fruits last a bit longer in the kitchen. 

The original recipe for this, in The Good Huswife's Jewell, is called 'To Preserue Orenges' and it states that:

You must cut your Orenges in halfe, and pare them a litle round about, and let them lye in water foure or fiue dayes, and you must chaunge the water once or twice a day, and when you preserue them, you must haue a quarte of faire wa∣ter to put in your suger, and a litle rose water, and set it on the fire, and scum it verie cleane, and put in a litle Sinamome, and put in your Orenges, and let them boile a litle while, and then take them out again, and doe soe fiue or sixe times, and when they be inough, put in your Orenges and let your sirroppe stand till it bee cold, and then put your sirrop into your Orenges.


That sounds like a lot of work, soaking oranges for almost a week then boiling them in syrup five or six times, scumming and cleaning and all that other stuff. If only there was a quicker way - a way that we could experience the flavours of this beautiful dish without all this elbow grease and hanging around getting hungry over bubbling pots and pans... 

You knew I'd figure something out, didn't you? 

With my tweaks, you still get the Tudor flavours of soft orange, rosewater and cinnamon in a light syrup. All you do is just cut the oranges and boil them for a little while in the sweetly spiced liquid and then they're good for the fridge. Also, on that note - we have fridges, the Tudors didn't - so because I've substantially reduced the sugar in this recipe it's not actually a preserve so keep it in a sealed container in the fridge and eat up within a week. 

Beautiful with cooked meats like ham, pork, lamb or even as part of a dessert. 

Tudor Marinated Oranges


1 large orange, washed
1 cup water
half cup caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp rosewater syrup

Slice the top and bottom from the orange and discard. Cut the orange in half lengthways and then slice into 1cm thick slices. Poke out the pips and throw them away. 

In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar together, stirring until dissolved and then add the de-pipped orange slices.

Throw in the cinnamon stick and trickle in the rosewater and continue to simmer gently in the syrup for 20 minutes.

Cool and decant the orange into a suitable jar with a lid, topping up with some of the rest of the syrup. Store in the fridge.

Source: Dawson, Thomas. The Good Housewife's Jewell. London: John Wolfe, 1587. Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership, 2011. Accessed 6 June 2021. 

Like this? Let me know if you try it by tagging me @lovebritishhistorypics on Instagram - I'd love to see! You might also like these recipes for Marchpane, Anne Boleyn's Apple Pie, Maids of Honour and Henry VIII's Parmesan cheese platter. 

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