In colonial America, punch usually referred to a rum drink, served in a bowl that was imported from China if you were wealthy. The temperance movement inspired recipes for non-alcoholic punches and made the punch bowl a staple of everything from proms to church socials. Now a punch bowl seems like a relic but almost any combination of chilled fruit juice and soda, spiked with alcohol for the appropriate occasion, adds an unexpected, festive touch to a party.
With locally grown strawberries finally in Massachusetts markets, I wanted to try one of the punch recipes in a Board of Deaconesses pamphlet tucked into The Heart of the Home Cookery, published by the Palestine Chapter #114 of the Order of the Eastern Star in Newtonville, Massachusetts in 1988. The book is in the Archives at Historic Newton. Make a batch for any summer gathering, including July 4. I reduced the original recipe from 15-20 servings to two but I left the original quantities in brackets. I also added gin but this is optional depending on your occasion and your crowd. No matter what, the drink’s pink hue matches the season.
Strawberry Punch (1980s)
1 cup [3 quarts] strawberries
1/4 cup [3 cups] sugar (less, to taste)
1  orange
1  lemon
1 [3 quarts] cup cold water
1  ounce gin (optional)
- Wash, hull, and mash 2/3 cup of the strawberries. Cover with 3 tablespoons of the sugar (or less, to taste). Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the berries give off their juices. Use a sieve or colander to strain out the fruit, reserving the juice. Use the strained fruit for something else, such as a smoothie or a mix-in for plain yogurt.
- Place the strawberry juice in a bowl. To the bowl, add the juice of the orange and lemon. Add the water the remaining sugar (or less, to taste). Add the remaining strawberries, leaving them whole (these will float on top).
- Serve in individual glasses.