Isinglass, velvet cream and nectar

I mentioned an old recipe for velvet cream, which seems like a set syllabub. It is set with isinglass which is produced from the swim bladders of fish – once gelatin could be cheaply and easily made I guess isinglass as a setting agent went out of fashion. It is however used to clarify some wines and beer. The name isinglass is interesting – it was originally made from beluga sturgeon and the name did mean ‘sturgeon bladder’.

If you know how to use gelatin (I’m not very confident, than you could use it to thicken your velvet cream – if I were making it I might miss it out altogether and have a runny dessert – like syllabub!

Velvet Cream

  • ½ oz
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 1 pint cream
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • sugar to taste
  1. dissolve the isinglass in the sherry
  2. add the isinglass to the cream when completely dissolved in the sherry
  3. add the lemon juice
  4. stir it until it thickens
  5. sweeten to taste
  6. pour into mould

Nectar was mentioned in the same list of recipes, remedies and household products. It is made in a huge quantity – goodness knows how many bottles you would have to store in your pantry, hoping it taste alright when it was ready!


  • 3 lbs raisins, chopped
  • 1 lb raspberry jelly
  • 5 lbs sugar
  • 2 grated nutmeg
  • 3 gallons of boiling water
  • 10 drops oil of nutmeg
  • 10 drops oil of caraway
  • 10 drops oil of cloves
  • 3 sliced lemons
  • 1 quart (2 pints) brandy or rum
  1. mix the first five ingredients together
  2. when cold add the spice oils and the lemons
  3. infuse for four days
  4. strain and add the brandy or rum
  5. bottle

With that quantity of expensive ingredients it’s expensive to trial! here are the ingredients reduced by a third:

  • 1 lbs raisins, chopped
  • 5 oz raspberry jelly
  • 1 lb 10 oz sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 gallons of boiling water
  • 3 drops oil of nutmeg
  • 3 drops oil of caraway
  • 3 drops oil of cloves
  • 1 sliced lemons
  • 13 fl oz brandy or rum

If by some chance you do have a go at making either of these recipes – they are 160 years old – do let me know how they turn out!


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