St. Clement’s posset is a British pudding from the 15th century

Benefits include orange and lemon zest; healthy oils make this pudding fight bad bacteria

By Gregory Jackson


Church bells of London inspired a nursery rhyme beginning with “oranges and lemons: but strangely as with most children’s nursery rhymes in London, end gruesomely.  Could this be a case for Sherlock Holmes?  Yet throughout the centuries this rhyme produced St. Clement’s posset, a literary legend about pudding infused with oranges and lemons, mixed with sugar and cream.  This recipe ends with cookies.

Cooking with zest

Orange and lemon zests are often discarded.  Zests are orange and lemon peels found on the outside of the fruit; we usually compost a lot of lemons and limes for our celebrity chefs.  What are the nutritional benefits of eating orange and lemon peels (you will need to purchase a zester if you do not have one, otherwise a vegetable peeler could work, but you would need to cut the shavings into smaller/manageable pieces to eat)?  I also add zest to my cereal, ice cream, and yogurt.  You will notice after handling a citrus fruit after zesting the oils will get on your hands.  I just rub the essential oils onto my hands.

Since you are eating the outside of the fruit its worth spending the extra money on organic fruits.  All citrus fruits have beneficial oils in their skins that are not only edible, but nutritious.  Be sure to rinse all fruit off before zesting.  And gently roll fruit to release juices before juicing.

Orange and lemon peelings (zests) nutritional benefits

Orange peels have flavanones, a phytonutrient containing herperidin molecules to help lower blood pressure.  Lemon peels contain calcium, potassium, Vitamin C, and fiber.  However the biggest benefit of eating citric peelings is found in their oils.

Citrus oils have antibacterial properties that may help fight against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the Changes of Peel Essential Oil Composition of Four Tunisian Citrus during Fruit Maturation by Soumaya Bourgou, Fatma Zohra Rahali, and Moufida Saidani Tounsi (National Institute of Health 2012 study).

The peel essentials study found that citrus harvested at certain times matter for citrus essential oils yield.  For example, mandarin orange and lemons were the highest fruit oils at the beginning of their ripening.  If citrus fruits faced moderate water shortage during fruit maturation they produced more beneficial oils (p.7).  Nutrient-dense food has been known to respond to their environment by survival techniques plants do in order to survive; survival is related to healthy food.

For instance, when cold-season crops grow in freezing temperatures they release beneficial sugars to prevent water within their tissue from freezing; a survival practice known as freezing point depression.

In the case with citrus fruits ripening during moderate drought conditions is their response to limited water supply.

When orange peels were studied (p.8) their essential oils contain limonene and some levels of camphor, cis-linalool oxide, alpha-terpinene, and octanol; these lower abundant compounds contribute to citrus armoma.  As oranges reach middle stage (just past their ripening stage), limonene becomes lower, while the other compounds like alpha-terpinyl cation, sabinene hydrate, 1,8-cineole, and other monoterpenes increase.  Thus make this recipe with one ripe orange and one nearly over-ripe orange would give you pudding with complete beneficial orange oils.

Lemons are similar beneficial oils spectrum as oranges, at ripening monoterpenes hydrocarbons were maximum yield, and as they over-ripen, oxygenated monoterpenes become present.  Immature fruit, limonene is dominant.  Yet during the immature fruit growth, p-cymene level was 9.84% and reduced to 0.23% at time of ripeness, and y-terpinene leveled at 9.96% at fruit maturity (p.10).

In attempting to reach complete beneficial oils of lemon for this recipe, consider using a ripe lemon and one nearly ripe.

You might say that eating St. Clement’s posset pudding using oranges (one ripe and one over-ripe) and lemons (one ripe and one under-ripe), makes a better food to eat if you are sick and makes a change of pace than eating soup.  Eating citrus oils, which have antibacterial activity, is also good for a healthy person since complete essential citrus oils can help keep healthy and balanced bacterial populations in our body.

In making St. Clement’s posset pudding, my turned out runny because I did not use heavy cream, but chose Silk original creamer and I had it sit in my refrigerator overnight to thicken.  The pudding thickened, but there is still slight runny consistency under the pudding, and tastes like lemonade.  If you use heavy cream and have the pudding refrigerate longer it will be thicker.


1 pint heavy cream (may substitute with almond milk or vanilla coffee creamer)

2/3 cup sugar (may use Maui Raws or Sugar in the Raw)

Zest of 11/2 lemons, plus juice from 2 lemons (save half lemon for zesting as garnish)

Zest of 11/2 oranges, plus juice from 2 oranges (save half orange for zesting as garnish)

  1. Slowly bring cream, sugar, and zests to a boil over medium-low heat.  Immediately reduce to low heat/simmer for 3 minutes to infuse cream and to avoid the cream to boil.
  2. Strain juices into a mixing bowl.  Whisk juices at the same time while adding infused cream, to combine.  At this point the mix becomes posset.  Pour posset into four teacups or ramekins, or any small glass container.  Chill and uncovered in the refrigerator for 1-hour.  Then cover with wrap from 3-6 hours.  If you have a place to set outside and it’s chilly outside, feel free to chill them outside.
  3. Serve chilled with remaining raw zest on top as garnish.  You may also top pudding with orange pulp segments.  Dip with your favorite cookies.  Compost the rest of the oranges and lemons in your compost pile.

2 responses to “St. Clement’s posset is a British pudding from the 15th century

  1. Pingback: Allegheny Serviceberry provides native local berries grown in the shade | GroundZ·

  2. Pingback: Winter at the urban farm, beets like it cold | GroundZ·

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