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Norfolk Punch


A strong brandy-based citrus fruit punch (Rundell 1807, Eaton 1822, Farley 1811, Mrs.B. etc).

The receipt appears in numerous cookbooks, starting with the 'Scots Magazine' of 1745, where "A receipt to make the Duke of Norfolk's punch" bases it on "Scots or Molasses brandy", ie. on what we would now call whisky or rum. It was sufficiently well-known to spawn a poem, first found in Blackwood's Magazine in 1828 and reproduced elsewhere...

Twenty quarts of real Nantz
Eau de vie of southern France
By Arabia's chemic skill
Sublined condensed in trickling still
Tis the grape's abstracted soul
And the first matter of the bowl
Oranges with skins of gold
Like Hesperian fruit of old
Whose golden shadow wont to quiver
In the stream of Guadalquivir
Lest the potion should be heady,
As Circe's cup, or gin of Deady,
Water from the crystal spring.
Thirty quarterns, draw and bring;
Let it, after ebullition,
Cool to natural condition.
Add, of powder saccharine,
Pounds thrice five, twice superfine;
Mingle sweetest orange blood,
And the lemon's acid flood;
Mingle well, and blend the whole
With the spicy Alcohol.

Original Receipt in 'The Cook and Housekeeper's Dictionary' by Mary Eaton (Eaton 1822);

NORFOLK PUNCH. To make a relishing liquor that will keep many years, and improve by age, put the peels of thirty lemons and thirty oranges into twenty quarts of French brandy. The fruit must be pared so thin and carefully, that not the least of the white is left. Let it infuse twelve hours. Prepare thirty quarts of cold water that has been boiled, put to it fifteen pounds of double-refined sugar, and when well incorporated, pour it upon the brandy and peels, adding the juice of the oranges and of twenty-four lemons. Mix them well, strain the liquor through a fine hair sieve, into a very clean cask, that has held spirits, and add two quarts of new milk. Stir the liquor, then bung it down close, and let it stand six weeks in a warm cellar. Bottle off the liquor, but take care that the bottles be perfectly clean and dry, the corks of the best quality, and well put in. Of course a smaller quantity of this punch may be made, by observing only the above proportions.

Another way. Pare six lemons and three Seville oranges very thin, squeeze the juice into a large teapot, put to it three quarts of brandy, one of white wine, one of milk, and a pound and a quarter of lump sugar. Let it be well mixed, and then covered for twenty-four hours. Strain it through a jelly bag till quite clear, and then bottle it off.

Quite seperate from the Norfolk Punch of tradition, from the 1970's the 'Original Norfolk Punch Company' produced a non-alcoholic herb cordial with a claim that it was based on a medieval receipt. Production transferred to Britvic to be abandoned in the 1990's. It has lately (2011) resurfaced as a product "Made in Australia", with some bizarre and unsupported claims for its supposed therapeutic effects, and the same, entirely fake, 'medieval' heritage.

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