Friday, December 29, 2017

The Magic of Vintage Citrus Recipes


Delicious citrus has been a part of our lives and of families’ recipes for so long that thousands of beloved recipes have been created to make use of this delicious bounty. Most of us are likely familiar with many of the common favorites, such as lemon meringue pie, orange sherbet, orange cake, and lemon puddings. But although we may enjoy these familiar treats, there are so many other interesting recipes out there, some of which have nearly been lost to the sands of time. Fortunately, those who love and enjoy old recipes, as well as food enthusiasts and recipe archivists, are always at work finding and restoring these hidden gems. In this blog post, we’ll feature some lesser-known vintage citrus recipes highlighting the fresh flavors of oranges, grapefruit, and more that are worth rediscovering as part of Florida’s rich and varied citrus history.

Crepes Suzette

Crepes suzette are a very famous and antique recipe (dating from around the turn of the 20th century) consisting of crepes in a sauce of butter, sugar, tangerine juice or orange juice, citrus zest, and orange liqueur. In a rather dramatic gesture, the dish is briefly set aflame before serving. This dish was popular in the 1970s but doesn’t get seen much now. It certainly would be fun to try it again with fresh citrus. Maybe for New Year’s Eve?

Atlantic Beach Pie

Have you ever enjoyed chocolate-covered potato chips or saltines with chocolate and toffee on top? If so, you’ll probably understand the appeal of Atlantic Beach Pie, a vintage pie made with a lemon filling, a whipped cream or meringue top, and, unusually, a “cracker’ crust made not with graham crackers, but saltines. This treat was popular in North Carolina seafood restaurants in the 50s—hence the “beach”—but has recently made a comeback.


Sour Orange Pie

This is an old and truly Floridian recipe that was developed to use the juice of the sour orange. What’s a sour orange? Well, that can be a bit of an open question. I find that people use the term to apply to any somewhat “feral” orange (perhaps growing in the woods or found on an old property) of uncertain parentage that isn’t good for eating out of hand. However, the term may also be used for the Seville orange, a very authentic “cooking” orange typically used for marmalade and marinades. This recipe was designed so it can be made both with true sour oranges and with a combination of oranges and lemons. It’s something like a cross between key lime and lemon meringue pie.


Broiled Grapefruit

If you are of a certain age, your mom might have made you a broiled grapefruit once upon a time. This simple but actually very delicious recipe consists of placing a grapefruit half (with sections pre-loosened) under the broiler after topping it with brown sugar and perhaps a bit of cinnamon or butter. The topping gets browned and a bit crunchy, almost like the top of a crème brulee. In its vintage incarnation, this was often served with a maraschino cherry in the middle and was often considered an appetizer! Today, we’d probably eat it for breakfast, perhaps with yogurt or granola.

Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia salad goes back, in one form or another, to the late 1800s. Early versions seem to mostly be about oranges, pineapple, and coconut, dressed with sugar; one 1877 cookbook calls for “one pine-apple peeled and sliced, pulverized sugar, six oranges, six lemons and two cocoa-nuts” in layers. In the 1950s through the 1970s, however, ambrosia started getting all kinds of things added to it, from grapes, fruit cocktail, and cherries to pecans, bananas, and marshmallows. It also began to be served with a creamy dressing, which could be made of anything from whipped cream or whipped topping to yogurt to sour cream to mayonnaise. Some people love this old-fashioned citrus dessert (or is it a side dish?) and some hate it. I suggest trying a stripped down version with fresh citrus and no dressing, but if you’d like to try a more classic backyard potluck vintage version, this seems like a classic version.

Ginger Ale Citrus Salad

This recipe is here as a representative of the literally hundreds of Jell-O salads that included oranges, grapefruit, tangerine, or other citrus. Seriously, there were tons of these in the 50s, and one has to admit, they were visually stunning. This one, from a fun blog that re-creates recipes of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, is actually quite delicious, or so they say. It includes grapefruit, oranges, lemons, grapes, pineapple, and candied ginger, suspended in gingery gelatin. While we may have fallen out of love with Jell-O salad, I admit, this one sounds pretty fun.

There are literally hundreds more vintage recipes featuring oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerine, and other citrus fruits out there, since these fruits have been popular and widely available for a long time in America. While the Internet offers access to many, there’s nothing quite like diving into the pages of a real vintage cookbook to get the true feeling for an era. Citrus is so versatile and delicious that it’s been gracing our plates for a very long time. Check out a vintage recipe sometime soon and be reminded of why some things never go out of style.

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2 comments :

  1. RE: the Atlantic Beach Pie, I substituted 1/2 cup sour Seville Orange juice for the lemon and/or lime juice in the recipe. The result was a delicious orange pie I dubbed "Florida Gulf Beach Pie." I used whole wheat Saltines for the crust - delicious.

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