Friday, 30 September 2022

Concrete Lemon …

 

Well it's not what I thought … I imagined that this would be a great subject for a We Are The World Blogfest post …


Detailed taxonomic illustration by
Kohler 1897

but no … it is most definitely not concrete in the way we understand it today … the term arose in the early 1500s coming about from Latin (concretus) – having different meanings as the language English progressed – and those grammatical aspects are way beyond me … (I looked up concrete origin of word): the English Language is a dynamic one … always changing …



Right let's get back to lemons … and the Mr Coxwell … who perfected this concrete lemon substance …



An essay by Dr Trotter
Mr Coxwell was a chemist and druggist in Fleet Street, London and was a member of the Committee of Chemistry at the Society for the Promotion of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, and … as you know the inventor of concrete lemon.




Concrete as we know it – it was not - but it did have the appearance of smashed white sugar … perhaps I'll look at concrete dust differently now …



Henry Coxwell's description

However Mr Coxwell had created crystallised lemon juice for use at sea … to ease the disease of scurvy …




Scurvy had been recorded in Ancient Egypt over 3,500 years ago; Hippocrates, the Greek physician, described the symptoms of scurvy; the Chinese recognised it …



Eventually in the early years of the 2nd millennium 'we' started to catch up - that fresh citrus particularly could ward off scurvy …



Produce could be part of the cargo – but would not last … so stop off points were found and then planted with fruit trees and vegetables to be available for maritime travellers …



Very early Cape Town, harbour and 
Table Mountain

Jan van Riebeeck, acting for the Dutch East India Company, arrived in 1792 at what is now the Cape Town area to set up a victualing settlement to grow fruit trees and develop gardens for a permanent supply of fresh produce.



These stop off points developed in places such as St Helena Island, along the St Lawrence River ... and other places as explorers opened up the world …



Communication and the spread of information was not easy in these early days … so it took until the 1920s before 'our world' understood scurvy … now in the 21st century it is virtually eliminated though still occurs amongst malnourished people and there have been outbreaks in refugee camps ...



Back to Coxwell and his concrete lemon that particularly valuable commodity … developed in the late 1700s and early 1800s – at least it could be kept and stored easily in the cargo … as a veritable increase in trade spread around the globe.


Description of his reduced lemon juice
in the Bath Chronicle of 1799
The wonders of life through the ages ... 




On July 10th 1784 … see Crell's Journal in the link … where he notes that 'there is a worm that cankers the bud of all improvement here' … the Naval Service took a while before this ingenious discovery would benefit its seamen.



This subject bemused me … to be found … c/o British Library and its archives … and I learnt quite a lot from reading it …


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

42 comments:

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
I do recall learning about the lemon crystals and scurvy in history at school, but distant memory and I thank you for refreshing it! (No pun intended...) YAM xx

Hels said...

I have never seen histories that mention stop-off points were planted with fruit trees to be available for ships en route to more distant destinations. But how very wise of the Dutch East India Company to set up a Cape Town settlement to grow fruit trees for reliable and permanent supplies. Medically modern thinking AND suitable for modern transport.

Elephant's Child said...

I do love the rabbit holes you take us down. I can remember reading about fresh fruit alleviating scurvy but didn't know either about this invention or that trees had been planted at drop off points. Thank you.

Liza said...

I have never heard of lemon crystals...although I certainly learned about scurvy. Sadly, now you have me thinking of my favorite blueberry lemon pound cake.

Kathy G said...

Thank you for the interesting information.

Joanne said...

Lemons and scurvy - this was quite the leap in subject matter. I remember as a kid, I think from the pirate phase, that the idea of scurvy was a "thing or fear". Funny what sticks after reading Treasure Island. Anyway - interesting post and I like the comment about now wanting some lemon cake. Yum!

Liz A. said...

I have never heard the term concrete lemon before. Yes, language is weird. A blog I follow does a weekly post on etymology, and almost every week I'm left shaking my head at how each word got its meaning.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yam – I knew about scurvy … but it was the scientific development that always seems to draw me in … but certainly I didn't know about lemon crystals …

@ Hels – I knew about the Cape Town one – established in the late 1700s – stunning part of the world. Made sense though … as each trading ship had to re-victual … and pass on new information …

@ EC – thanks … so many rabbit holes around my life. Am happy you appreciated the post … the invention, and the trading points …

@ Liza – I am like you … I knew about scurvy but was interested in the scientific development … oh yes your mention of blueberry lemon pound cake has found favourable mention by Joanne and me …

@ Kathy – good to see you here …

@ Joanne – oh that mention of 'thing or fear' – perhaps Popeye had something to do with that … eat your greens/spinach. Gosh I didn't realise it came from Treasure Island – shows you about my reading! … while lemon cake is always rather good …

@ Liz – nor had I heard of 'concrete' lemon – but our English language never stops changing. Interesting blog to know about … I'm always looking up words or phrases …

Cheers to you all – and thanks for your interest … Hilary

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Hi Hilary: My daughter and son-in-law are visiting so I am a little pressed for time. Let me get back to this post later when I can do it justice. Hugs - David.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi David - your daughter and SIL deserve your attention over and above my 'concrete lemon'!!! -- enjoy your time with them ... cheers Hilary

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

What an amazing coincidence to read this post today. Yesterday I had to take a diahrea tablet that had as one of its ingredientce "powdered lemon juice," which I had never heard of before.

Jacqui Murray said...

That was interesting--help from ancient Greece. It's amazing how doctors connect the dots with cause and effect.

Anabel Marsh said...

Stopping off points with fruit and veg growing make absolute sense! Don’t know about concrete lemons but I put lemon juice in just about everything. Really brightens the flavour.

H. R. Sinclair said...

That's totally cool!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elizabeth - yes ... that is definitely one of those coincidence things .. funny where life takes us. Re your move back to Europe (Portugal) ... I hope all goes well for you ...

@ Jacqui - enjoy your travels ... so much was known back 3 - 4,000 years ago - which we're sort of finding out about now ... especially in the last 500 years with print becoming our way of life in these past centuries ...

@ Anabel - yes ... those harbour vegetable and fruit gardens do make so much sense. Yes - I use lemon juice a lot and it does brighten the underlying flavours ...

@ Holly - fun to see you here ...

Cheers and thanks for visiting - Hilary

David M. Gascoigne, said...

It is sobering to reflect on what a truly dreadful disease scurvy was (is?) and how it affected seamen, without anyone knowing that simple dietary practices would prevent it ever occurring. I did not know that trees were deliberately planted at stop off points on a ship's journey to ensure that replenishment fruit was available. Wise move!

Inger said...

I love the way your mind works, how you come up with all this wonderful, varied,and interesting information for us, the readers of your blog. Thank you for thinking of a subject, doing the research, writing and sharing.

Your blog is a wonderful place always full of interesting information, a place to come and to learn.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ David - yes ... the privations humans had to go through for us to be able to live as we do now ... and how interestingly our enterprising antecedents improved their knowledge for all the scientific improvements that have occurred.

I knew that the ships needed to revictual or make repairs would require safe harbours for these things to happen ... the Dutch were great early gardeners and so had the skills needed to send live plants abroad, which could be planted up to thrive overseas ...

@ Inger - thank you ... I befuddle many a person ... but I'm grateful I've got a great curiosity about so many subjects and push myself to learn more. Eastbourne has a number of resources that I join in with - and so can broaden my knowledge in those different ways, which I can take in and learn from ...

Just delighted to read - you enjoy the blog and wherever my mind takes me ...

Thanks so much to both of you for visiting - all the best - Hilary

Fil said...

I never knew that there were stop off places planted with fruit trees - what an ingenious idea - as is Mr Coxwell's. Great story Hilary.

Sandra Cox said...

Huh. Didn't know that. Thanks for broadening my horizons.
Cheers,

Damyanti Biswas said...

Wow, this has been an interesting read. Didn't know they used lemon crystals to treat scurvy. I always learn something new from your blogs :D

Pradeep Nair said...

I have never heard of 'concrete lemon', and stop off points. Interesting bits of information. Scurvy I have learnt in school. I guess it still afflicts people who are deficient in Vitamin C.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Fil - good to see you again ... and hope to catch some blog news anon. I guess we don't think about these things do we - but it's fun to find out ...

@ Sandra - always happy to broaden my own horizons as well as yours!

@ Damyanti - oh great ... so happy to read this. The crystals could travel and wouldn't go off - as fresh fruit and vegetables wouldn't last long ...

@ Pradeep - yes I suspect we all learnt about scurvy in our school days ... the East India Company and the Dutch East India company all needed these safe harbours - they had them along the coast of India too ... as they explored further east. I learn geography too!

Cheers to the four of you - thanks for being here - Hilary

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I have never heard of Lemon Crystals, but I love the new worlds you take me to. Keep it up!!!

Teresa

Sandra Cox said...

Good on Mr. Coxwell for looking out for the sailors.
Cheers, Hils:)

diedre Knight said...

Another fascinating post, Hilary! I'm already looking at lemons in a whole new light ;-) Mr. Coxwell was a visionary.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I've never seen a lemon tree but seeing one is on my bucket list. They must be very pretty when they're full of fruit. You're absolutely right; the English language is dynamic.

Sandra Cox said...

It's interesting how the meaning of words change over time, isn't it?
Cheers, Hils.

Sherry Ellis said...

Concrete lemon. How interesting! My son just joined the Navy. Hopefully he won't have to ingest any of that!

DMS said...

I learn something new every time I come here. :) What a great post. I knew a little of this information- but learned a lot too. Thanks for sharing. :)
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Teresa - 220 years ago for concrete lemon crystals ... I suspect now it's powdered lemon, or lemon juice ... but the history engaged me ...

@ Sandra - yes Mr Coxwell obviously enjoyed his research; and yes words do change over time ... the English language is challenging ...

@ Diedre - good to see you ... and glad you're looking at the herbal value of lemons - Mr Coxwell was a visionary, you're so right ...

@ Joylene - do they not have lemon trees in Mexico ... and they must have them down south in the USA (California) ... my brother has one in a pot here!

Dynamic is a good word for the changes in the English language ...

@ Sherry - I spotted your son had just joined the Navy - I'm sure his diet will be full of vitamins, also fresh fruit and veg - good luck to him.

@ Jess - thank you ... I'm glad the posts all seem to make sense with some added small extras about history ...

Thanks everyone - cheers Hilary

Jemima Pett said...

You find the most wonderful things to write about. Concrete lemon, indeed. Fascinating!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Hilary, I learn so much from your website. I knew about scurvy and the power of lemons/lemon juice. Didn't know it could come as a powder.

I love lemons! I had this weird, thorny--and I mean long thorns--bush by the house we just bought. It had round yellow lemons. Round, not pointy-end lemons like we can buy. I tried one. It was full of seeds. And it was very bitter. Maybe only domesticated lemons taste good. Thanks for an interesting post. Have a beautiful day!

lostinimaginaryworlds.blogspot.com said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Hilary, I'm posting the book, bit by bit, in the hope that people will be interested in my work, on blogger, facebook, and my website.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

That was fascinating, Hilary. I recall that Captain Cook was big on reducing scurvy in his crew. And I have to say that crystalised lemon juice is a feature of Mrs B's wonderful lemon drizzle cake!

Nilanjana Bose said...

I do remember learning about Vitamins and deficiency diseases in school, but totally hadn't heard about lemon concrete. Fascinating how the problem was tackled.
A perfect topic for the WATW! Thank you as always for expanding my horizons.

Rhodesia said...

As usual, I always learn from you. I have never heard of concrete lemon and this is the most interesting post. Well done.

Keep well and I hope the rest of the family recovers quickly.

Cheers Diane

Nick Wilford said...

Interesting how different the meaning of concrete was and how lemons were made to last longer. Puts me in mind of those rock hard "sea biscuits" that would last on very long voyages. Probably not very palatable with a cuppa!

Sandra Cox said...

YOU have a great one, Hils.

Ash said...

Oh that's interesting! I didn't know... well any of this haha.

Ash @ Essentially Ash

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I knew the history of scurvy, but not about concrete lemon. Crystalized lemon was developed a lot earlier than I had expected.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jemima – thanks … I enjoy finding out about different subjects … and concrete lemon intrigued me …

@ Victoria – early days of scientists developing ways for us to enjoy priveledges of today …

I had a lovely little lemon tree in South Africa – with large juicy lemons … just wonderful. I'm not sure re your lemon tree – I guess it could be improved … but lucky you to have one in the garden …

@ Carole – good luck with your approach and with your thoughts re publication …

@ Mike – yes it started with Captain Cook and two of his passengers – Joseph Banks (naturalist) and Solander – a Swedish naturalist and scientist working with Linnaeus.

Lemon Drizzle Cake – I have to agree is quite delicious … I always aim for a slice, if it's around – I quite like to try Mrs B's creation!

Nila – well I'd never heard of concrete lemon – only taking the latin translation of concretus .. to be changed over time …

@ Diane – well it enticed my brain cells … concrete lemon: such a 'funny' phrase.

I assume the family is recovering … I hope so … covid is a great nuisance in this day and age …

@ Nick – yes … I was interested in the use of the meaning of concrete back in the day.

Those rock hard sea biscuits – often with worms in – yugh! But today I head about Butteries – made in Aberdeen – also made for the fishermen …

@ Sandra – yes … weekend arrived before I got going again … so having a happy time …

@ Ash – good to see you … glad you enjoyed the info and post …

@ Lynda – yes scurvy has always been a human challenge … it was just the use of the word 'concrete' interested me … and then learning about Crystalised lemon … our early scientists were pretty clever – thankfully …

Cheers to you all – so glad you enjoyed the concrete lemon! … Hilary