From 1895: Orange Water Ice


I mentioned before that when I was a kid, my brother and I were really interested in the Titanic. So, my parents took us to see the traveling Titanic exhibits that made their ways up and down the east coast. One summer in particular, we went to Atlantic City, New Jersey to see a traveling exhibit that included a piece of the Titanic’s actual hull that was brought up from the ocean floor! And, of course, since we were in Atlantic City for that exhibit, we spent some time on the beach and the boardwalk, too.

Now, walking along the boardwalk, I may have cultivated a memory even more amazing than seeing a piece of the Titanic’s hull. That’s typically how it goes, right? Take a kid to see something spectacular and what they remember most is folding up the admittance ticket into the thickest square they’ve ever folded. For me, it wasn’t ticket-folding excitement, though. It was a cheap cup of slush my parents bought my brother and me on the boardwalk. Water ice. We’d never heard of it, but it was cold and sweet, and it kept us quiet for fifteen minutes.

So, what are we making? Orange water ice from Tested Recipe Cook Book published in 1895.


I learned pretty quickly that water ice is a New Jersey – Philadelphia thing! I’ve never seen it anywhere other than those two places, so when I came upon this recipe from a woman in Atlanta, I was pretty surprised. But, it ended up being everything I remembered – cold, sweet, creamy. And, as a bonus, it’s made out of real orange juice, rather than just sugar water and concentrated flavoring (watermelon, to be exact), which is what I got on the boardwalk so long ago!

So, let’s go into the kitchen and make some history!


Here are our ingredients: Sugar, oranges, and lemons (not pictured: water).


Step 1: Measure out the sugar into a saucepan, then add in the water with it. (Note: I followed the recipe proportions as written, and the water ice was sweeter than I like. So, start with less and add sugar to your taste – experiment and have fun!)


Step 2: Bring the sugar and the water to a boil, stirring to make sure the sugar completely dissolves. Now, I didn’t boil my sugar and water for fifteen minutes. I boiled for about 7-10, and just made sure all the sugar was dissolved. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool.


Step 3: While your sugar and water cool, prepare the oranges. Squeeze out the orange juice. If you haven’t noticed, as always, I halved recipe. So, I squeezed out a cup of orange juice, which took three oranges. If you’re making the full recipe, I’d use six to eight oranges!


Step 4: After you squeeze out your orange juice, strain it. That way, you don’t have to strain your mixture later before you freeze it. I just put some cheesecloth over a bowl, poured on the orange juice, and then I squeezed out the pulp to get every last bit of juice out!


Step 4.1: Here’s my delicious, fresh, strained juice.


Step 5: Once your sugar and water are cool, add the orange juice. And, squeeze in the juice of the lemons. I used a lemon and a half for my halved recipe, and I have a little handheld lemon press, so I didn’t bother to strain the lemon juice. Handle your lemons as you see fit!


Step 6: Stir everything together and then pour it all into a container you can freeze. Stick the whole thing in the freezer, and go about your day!


Step 7: Now, you’re going to want to check on your orange mixture throughout the day. After two hours in the freezer, I checked on mine, and I noticed it was starting to freeze.


Step 8: I took a fork and just mixed it all up so it would freeze evenly, and so it would end up having a nice, creamy consistency. Then, I put it back in the freezer.


Step 9: After four hours, I stirred it all up with a fork again, and I decided the consistency was perfect. Smooth, creamy, and delicious! Go with whatever consistency you like best. And, if you go too far and you over-freeze your water ice, no problem! Just let it thaw for about fifteen to thirty minutes and stir it all up until it’s creamy again!


Final step: Savor your deliciously sweet, creamy, frozen treat. And, feel free to try different flavors – just substitute the orange juice for whatever flavor you like, and add sugar a little at a time until it’s sweet enough for your liking! Do you have any memories from when you were a kid and you took summer vacations? Did you have a favorite sweet treat that you remember to this day? Tell me your memories!

From 1895: Orange Water Ice

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 1-2 cups of sugar to taste
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice (6-8 oranges), strained
  • Juice of three lemons


  1. Add sugar and water to saucepan, bring to boil.
  2. Boil for 7-10 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Once cool, stir in strained orange juice and lemon juice.
  4. Pour into freezer container. Place in freezer.
  5. Check water ice mixture every 2 hours, scraping sides and stirring together until a creamy consistency is reached. Should take 4-5 hours. If mixture freezes solid, remove from freezer and thaw for an hour until it reaches a creamy consistency.


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