August 27, 2019

18th Century Lemon Cheese Recipe from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

18th Century Lemon Cheese Forgotten Recipe

I was excited to try this recipe. I have yet to see anyone else attempt it and it is from a handwritten recipe book in Westminster City Archives in London known as the Cookbook of Unknown Ladies. Little is known about the recipe book or the women who contributed to it only that it was written by "various unknown women about the year 1761," as is printed on a title page.  Be sure to check out all of the recipes from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies.

This was a mystery recipe.  I can generally read and approximate what the finished product of a recipe will be. For this recipe I didn't have a clue. I thought it sounded most like a cream cheese but it was whipped before being hung to separate the whey out. Would that make a difference? My grandma and I kept testing it throughout the process to try and get an idea of what it would turn into.

I was very afraid that the minute I added lemon to the cream that it would separate the way it does when making cheese but it didn't. I waited until the cream was whipped then quickly stirred in the juice and the rind.

It turned out that this makes a spread that tastes like a delicious lemon cheesecake. It was delicious on the 1796 pound cake I happened to make the same night. It would also be good on scones or toast.

Excerpt from The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies:

Lemmon Cheese
A qurt of good thick sweet creame. Put to it the juce of four lemons as as mutch peel as well give it an agreeable flavour. Sweeten it to your taste & add a littile peach or orange flower water if you like it. Whip it up as you would for sellabubs but very solid. If you have a tin vat, put a thin cloath in it & pour in your cream. If not, put it in a napkin and tye it pritty close. Hang it up to let the whey run from it. Make it the night be fore you use it. Garnish it with currant jelliy or candied oranges.


- 16 ounces Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2 Lemons (Juice and Peel)
- 1 Tablespoon  Orange Flower Water
- 2+/- Tablespoons sweetener (Sugar, Honey, Molasses, )


Zest and juice your lemons. Put cream in large bowl, add sugar and orange flower water and whisk until you have whipped cream. Stir in lemon juice and peel gently to avoid over whipping. Pour into doubled cheese cloth and tie it up. Hang it overnight. In the morning press all the remaining juice out with your hands, make into a ball or press into a mold and serve with jelly or candied oranges.

I had this hanging over a bowl in my living room and my puppy was terrified of it.

If you haven't used cheesecloth before, I recommend paying a little extra to get the kind that you can wash and reuse: Cheesecloth. 

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  1. It separates only if the cream/milk is heated to 55 degrees (I seem to remember), as I understand it is cold in this recipe so it won't separate.

    1. Thanks! I wasn't sure how it was going to be as it was room temperature.


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