Long before the Civil War and the days of the Wild West, early American History began with those first early explorers:Christopher Columbus, and continuing with various explorers from England, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and other European countries.
The American colonists got their food from several places. The modern supermarket that we know today, where you can get all kinds of food, was not an option back then.Colonial food in the late 1700’s was varied and abundant.A great many American colonists also took care of their own food needs. It was not uncommon for a farm family to have crops growing near the ocean while chickens, pigs, and cows were grazing nearby and for that same family to fish for clams and other fish down at the oceanside. This way, the family wouldn’t have to buy food from anyone else. They might have apple trees and rows of corn and wheat. They might turn that corn into cornbread or cornmeal mush. They might turn that wheat into flour themselves and use it to bake bread. They might also hunt wild animals, like deer, rabbits, and turkeys.
Most farmers stopped milking in late fall or early winter, and slaughtered surplus cattle, so that the remaining cows could be kept more economically. By spring, stored butter and cheese had run out, or were of very poor quality.
Pigs were the easiest animals to keep through the winter and were slaughtered in midwinter for Christmas roasts. So salt pork or pickled pork were the basis of early spring meals, with the last of the beans and cornmeal. Hunting and trapping supplied what fresh meat could be had. The other activity in rural areas was tapping maple trees for syrup and sugar. Because the climate was colder in Early American times, maple syrup was still being produced in the southern states.
The recipes of Colonial America are quite diverse, going well beyond “Boston Baked Beans” or venison and turkey. And, given their limited supply of resources — the supermarket did not yet exist — they used their ingenuity to create a wide range of palatable dishes. Some we still enjoy today in mainstream America, while other methods and items of preparation have fallen out of fashion. Here you will find both the popular and not-so-popular recipes of the early Americans.
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