Wartime Recipes ~ Drinks

These recipes are taken from the Ministry of Food leaflets issued in the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

Further details can be found in the Rationing Section.

Picture of wartime soft drinks11th August, 1940

Summer Drinks

Ginger Beer

  • 1 gallon of boiled water.
  • 1 lb sugar.
  • ½ oz yeast.
  • 1 level teaspoon ground ginger.
  • 1 level teaspoon cream of tartar.

Put yeast in a basin with a teacup full of sweetened water almost cold. Let stand till yeast rises. Put boiled water, sugar, ginger and cream of tartar into a large jug and stir in the yeast when the water is luke warm. Stand till cool, then skim well and bottle carefully, it will be ready for use in two days.


  • 1½ lb sugar.
  • 4 lemons.
  • 1 oz citric acid.

Pour a quart of boiling water over the sugar and citric acid. Squeeze in the juice of lemon and also put in the rind. On cooling pour off the liquid, bottle it and use a tablespoon full to a glass of water.

Fruit Syrups 1

The best fruits to use are raspberries, blackcurrants, blackberries, and loganberries. As for all preserving, the fruit should be fresh and ripe. Fruit that is too ripe for bottling or jam making can be used for syrups but make sure that it is completely free from moulds.

To extract the juice, put the fruit in a large basin without water (except for blackcurrants and blackberries. For these fruits pour in ½ pint water to 1 lb blackcurrants or ½ pint to 6 lb blackberries) Break up fruit with a wooden spoon. Place basin over a pan of hot water and heat until the juice comes out. When there is plenty of juice in the basin, squash the fruit again.

Scald a jelly bag or several thicknesses of muslin with boiling water. Tie to legs of upturned stool. Place a large basin underneath. You must not use a metal strainer.

Pour fruit into the bag or prepared muslin and allow to drip overnight.

The next day press the fruit to extract any juice that may be left. Measure juice and allow ¾ lb sugar to each pint of juice. Mix juice and sugar together, heat gently until sugar is dissolved. Bottle the syrup at once. Fill the jars, put on lids and screwbands, sterilise as for hot-water bath method of bottling fruit.

Hot-water Bath Method: suitable for all fruits (except strawberries) and should always be used for apples, pears and peaches.

All you need is a large heavy saucepan and the grid from the grill pan or an overcloth.

Prepare the fruit and jars. Pack the jars well with the fruit and pour in cold syrup. Put on the lids and screwbands. Give the bands half a turn back to allow for expansion. Put the jars on the grid or folded ovencloth in the saucepan, taking care they do not touch each other. Fill the pan with water so that it completely covers the jars. Put on pan lid. Put over a very slow heat and bring water to slow simmering point. This should take at least 1 hour 30 mins. Then maintain the slow simmering for 20 mins.

Remove the pan from heat and place on a wooden surface, tighten bands. After 24 hours test for seal.

Fruit Syrups 2

All fruit syrups can be kept well – they tend to have better flavour and a thicker consistency if sugar is added.

Put the fruit into a basin over hot water, adding water if necessary. Press down the fruit to squash it well and cook for about 60 mins. Until you are sure all the juice is extracted. Press down during cooking.

Strain through a jelly bag or through several thicknesses of muslin over a fine sieve.

Measure the juice and add sugar, allowing approx 8 oz sugar to pint of juice, heat together until sugar is dissolved, stirring well. Do not continue boiling when sugar is all dissolved.

Pour the hot syrup into hot bottling jars or cordial bottles with well fitting screw tops.

Allow syrup to cool in the bottles, which should not be quite filled.

Stand them in a steriliser of deep pan with a rack on the bottom. Loose screw thread half a turn, then take 60 mins. To bring water to simmering (170F) retain for 30 mins for larger jars or bottles, 20 mins for smaller bottles.

Lift out carefully, stand on a wooden surface and tighten screw bands. Tie adhesive tape round the corks or caps of cordial bottles.

Quantities of water and sugar for use in syrups
Fruit – 1 lb Water Sugar
Blackberry ¼ pint 8-12 oz
Blackcurrant ¼ pint 8-12 oz
Cherry ¼ pint 8-12 oz
Damson 3/8 pint 12 oz
Elderberry ¼ pint 8 oz
Loganberry 2 tablespoons 8-12 oz
Raspberry 0 8-12 oz
Redcurrant ¼ pint 8-12 oz
Strawberry 0 8-12 oz
Rhubarb ¼ pint None
Sugar ¼ pint 12 oz

Dissolve sugar in water over a gentle heat, Cool and bottle for use. Ideal for sweetening drinks.

Hawthorn Berry

Hawthorn berries as collected from trees only. Cleaned and placed in freezer to ensure freshness prior to processing.
Vegetable glycerine, natural organically made. This is sweet thereby eliminating the need for added sugars.

Alcohol base: Concentrated hawthorn berry fluid extracted with distilled water in a base of vegetable glycerine and 6.7% ethyl alcohol by volume.

Non-Alcohol base: As above but without the ethyl alcohol.

Hawthorn Berries
Distilled Water

Use a pan on very low temperature so as not to destroy the valuable enzymes and other food ingredients.

Rose Hip Syrup

  • 2lb ripe rose hips
  • 1 – 1¼ lb sugar
  • 4½ pints water

Have ready 3 pints boiling water in large saucepan.

Mince hips coarsely, place immediately in water and bring back to boil. When it boils, remove from heat and leave to stand for 15 mins. Pour into a scalded muslin bag and allow juice to drip through.

Return pulp to pan, add 1½ pints boiling water, bring to boil, remove from heat and let stand for a further 10 mins. Restrain as before.
Pour juice into a clean pan, boil until there is about 1½ pints, add sugar and dissolve. Boil for a further 5 mins. Pour hot syrup into clean, hot bottles and seal at once.

Stand bottles on a trivet in a deep pan of boiling water for five mins.

This will keep well until opened, but the only for about 10 days.

  • 1lb rose hips
  • 3 pints boiling water
  • to 1 pint juice add 8-12 oz sugar

Quickly grate or chop the hips and use immediately after grating.

Put into boiling water, simmer for 5 mins. Stand 15 mins, strain and measure.

Add sugar and proceed as per Fruit Syrups 2.

Rose Hip and Honey Syrup

  • 4lb rose hips
  • 9 pints water
  • 1lb honey foe every 1½ pints liquid

Bring 2/3rd of water to boil in a preserving pan. Mince the rose hips or finely chop in a blender. Put them immediately into the boiling water. Bring back to the boil, draw the pan aside and leave for 15 mins. Strain the liquid through a jelly bag. Put the pulp back into the pan, bring the rest of the water to thee boil, pour over the pulp. Stir and leave for 10 mins. Strain the liquid and add to first lot.

Measure the liquid and return to rinsed out pan with corresponding amount of honey. Bring the syrup to the boil and boil for 5 mins. Pour the syrup into hot, dark bottles and cork immediately.

Will keep for up to a year.