Sunday, October 16, 2022

Desperation Pie - by Jo-Ann Roberts


When I was plotting out my Christmas book slated for a Black Friday release, I knew my hero was an only child of a single mother who wasn't a very good cook. But she did make one dish for her son...Vinegar Pie!

I imagine some of you are already puckering your lips, making an "eww" sound! While many people today wince at the thought of a vinegar pie, our pioneer ancestors loved it. They used apple-cider vinegar to take the place of citrus juices to make this tart and sweet pie. The filling is similar to a Key Lime pie or a Lemon Meringue pie, except vinegar is substituted for the lemon or lime juice.

Today, buying lemons or limes is as easy as walking to the produce aisle at our local grocery store. However, the pioneers didn't have that luxury. Something as simple as a lemon, orange, or lime was a rare treat, very expensive, and difficult to find. The availability of citrus fruits wasn't as great as today's demand, let alone the means to distribute the fruits. But that didn't stop many pioneer women from improvising alternate solutions. Thus, the first vinegar pie recipe was born. The acid in the vinegar delivered the same taste and tartness as the citric acid in citrus fruits. 

In the mid- to late 1800's, every logging or mining camp had a cook shack where the loggers and miners gathered to eat. Much of the menu consisted of wild game and fish. But dessert was another story, and while cooks in these camps were very creative, the options were often limited. Since pie was extremely easy to make requiring only water, flour, vinegar, sugar, eggs, and dry spices..."Desperation Pie" was created and became a camp favorite. It was not only sweet and tart but was often topped with a meringue.

Vinegar pie is about old-fashioned as it gets. The ingredients are readily available, and the benefits of using vinegar are numerous. If you want to get a good dose, plus appreciate a bit about our past, give this vinegar pie a try!



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