Prepare at Home

Canning of food
Preserving food by boiling it in glass containers and sealing them with a waxed cork before cooling was first done in France by Nicholas Appert, a confectioner, in 1809 when he managed to save meat, vegetables, fruit and milk. Napoleon's government rewarded him for this boon to the military and he patented it. In 1819, Englishman Peter Durand developed a method of using thin sheets of steel for canisters instead of glass. In 1823, Thomas Kersett patented the first preserving of food in tin cans - the first successes were lobsters and salmon and they were followed by fruits and vegetables in 1825. The first fruit jars for canning in the U. S. were advertised in Philadelphia in 1829. Robert Arthur invented a saucer shaped metal piece that fitted into a groove in the jar top that would then be sealed with wax in 1855. In 1860, Louis Pasteur proved that microorganisms were responsible for spoilage. The zinc screw cap was patented on November 23 and 30, 1858 by Mr. Mason. It was NOT until 1869 that Lewis Boyd thought about putting a glass insert into the lid to avoid a tinny taste, probably adapting an idea of New Yorker Salmon Rowley who developed the idea of placing a glass lid over the jar and sealing it with a screw band, similar to modern canning lids. This was not proposed until 1868. As a side note, even though Mr. Mason's name remained on jars long after his patent ran out, he died in New York City in 1902, a charity case. In passing, it was not until 1895 that a University of Wisconsin professor, H.L. Russell connected bacterial growth with gaseous odors. He initiated development of guidelines for specific heat and processing times to destroy the bacteria in differing foods.

Canning being an occasionally unsuccessful procedure for storage during the Civil War, one found many people falling back on supplementing their diets with foods from home, made in the tried and true methods of earlier travelers. Many period and earlier recipes served the purpose and contrasted with the elegant and involved formal meals of the time. The recipes and formulas included in this section would all have been available to people of the 1860's.

Beverage: Tom and Jerry 

Claimed by many, this drink has been around since the 1820's in London when it was popularized by Pierce Egan, the dean of British boxing who wrote of Jerry Hawthorne and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom, supposedly the namesakes of the drink. In any case, Egan popularized the drink in London at that time.
It is alleged in the U.S., the drink was invented by Professor Jerry Thomas, a San Francisco bartender. He, at least, popularized it here and this is his recipe.

Use 1 egg for each drink. Separate them and beat the whites till frothy. Then beat in 1 heaping teaspoon sugar for each egg and continue beating till whites stand in peaks. Beat the yolks separately till thick and lemon-colored. Mix the two together with a pinch of baking soda. Place 2 tablespoons of the mixture in each mug. Add 1/2 jigger brandy and 1/2 jigger rum, then fill to the top with hot milk, cream or boiling water. Stir and grate a little nutmeg on each.

Starters: Deviled Oysters 

Oysters were essential to celebrations in 19th century America. They were huge (6 to 8 inches! British author, William Makepeace Thackery described the challenge of swallowing them as "as if I had swallowed a small baby.") The Lincolns often hosted oyster feasts at Springfield where oyster dishes - broiled, boiled, deviled, curried, fricasseed, panned, scalloped., etc. - were the only foods.
For two.

In a small saucepan, mix 1 tablespoon dry mustard with a little water to make a smooth paste. Add 12 freshly opened oysters and cook two minutes stirring gently. Oysters should be thoroughly coated with the mustard. Remove them from the stove and when cool, dip them , one by one, in beaten egg, then coat with fresh breadcrumbs (about one cup). Place in a buttered pan, sprinkle the tops with melted butter and broil in a preheated broiler to brown both sides.

Vegetables and Relish

Plymouth Succotash 

This combination is more of a stew than a straight vegetable and is Yankee. It is sill served in some households to celebrate December 21, the day the Pilgrims landed.
For 10:

Soak one pint of pea beans overnight. In the morning, drain and cover with fresh water and cook 2 hours till tender. Drain and puree. While the beans are cooking, put a 3 lb. chicken, cut in serving pieces, 2 1/2 lbs. corned beef, and 1/2 lb. salt pork in a large kettle, covered with water, and cook 2 to 2 1/2 hours till the beef is tender. Stir in bean puree, 3 lb. cooked sliced potatoes, 1 cooked and cubed yellow turnip and 1 1/2 quarts whole hominy.

Candied Cranberries 

In 1663, it was noted that Crane Berries, or Bounce Berries (their ability to bounce showing ripeness), were a meat sauce used by Indians and English.

Spread 2 cups washed berries in a shallow pan and sprinkle with 1 cup sugar. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. (Stir Occasionally)

Dessert: Blackberry Pie 

In November 1851, a Norwegian immigrant living in Beloit wrote back to Norway "Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries thrive here. From these they make a wonderful dish combines with syrup and sugar, which is called pai. I can tell you that is something that glides easily down your throat.'
Blackberry Pie was on the brief menu Lincoln personally chose for his Inaugural Luncheon on March 4, 1861, at Willard's Hotel right after the Capitol ceremonies. (The rest was Mock Turtle Soup, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Parsley Potatoes and Coffee) His participation in the choices was noted as very unusual as outside of a partiality to cornbread, honey and a good cup of coffee, he showed a noted lack of interest in food. After the luncheon, the family went directly to the Executive Mansion.
Blackberry Pie is also unusual in that till the 1830's these berries were on the noxious weed list and until it was used as medicinal syrup, did not creep into the food preferences.

Prepare pastry for a two crust pie and line a pie pan with half. Chill this and remaining pastry while preparing the fruit. Mix 4 cups blackberries, 3 tablespoons flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Spoon into the pie shell and dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Cover with top crust, cut slits in crust and bake in preheated 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 35 to 40 minutes until browned.

I should note that actual Mincemeat Pie was served for Christmas at Mt. Vernon to Thanksgiving with Teddy Roosevelt but as real mincemeat has to be made a month before using it in pie.


The soft drink industry got it's start in New Haven, Conn. in 1807 from the sale of artificial waters developed at Yale. In 1849, the U.S, had 64 soft drink plants that had 3/4 million dollars in sales (almost 1 pint per capita yearly).

Soda Syrup, with or without Fountains - The common or more watery syrups are made using loaf or crushed syrup, 8 lbs.; pure water, 1 gallon; gum arabic, 2 oz.; mix in a brass or copper kettle, boil until the gum is dissolved, then skim and strain through white flannel, after which add tartaric acid, 5 1/2 oz.; dissolved in hot water; to flavor, use extract of lemon, orange, rose, pine-apple, peach, sarsaparilla, strawberry &c., 1/2 oz. to each bottle, or to your taste.
Now use 2 to 3 tablespoons of the syrup to 3/4 of a tumbler of water and 1/2 tea-spoon of super-carbonate of soda, made fine; stir well and be ready to drink, or use in the soda in water as mentioned in the "Imperial Cream Nectar;" the gum arabic, however, holds the carbonic acid so it will not fly off as rapidly as common soda. The above is to be used without fountains.

Cream Soda, without a Fountain - Coffee Sugar 4 lbs., water 3 pints; nutmeg grated, eight in number; whites of 10 eggs well beaten; gum arabic, 1 oz.; oil of lemon, 20 drops; or extract equal to that amount. By using oils of other fruits you can make as many flavors from this as you desire.
Mix all and place over a gentle fire, and stir well about 30 minutes; remove from the fire, strain and divide into two parts; into one-half put super-carbonate of soda, eight ounces; and into the other half put 6 oz. tartaric acid; shake well. When cold they are ready to use, by pouring three or four spoons, from both parts, into separate glasses which are 1/3 full of cool water; stir each and pour together, and you have as nice a glass of cream soda as was ever drank, which can also be drank at your leisure, as the gum and eggs hold the gas.

Simple Syrup - The ground work of all syrups ought to be the same, i.e. 
Simple Syrup; to make it, take 2 1/2 lbs. of the best coffee sugar, which is found not to crystallize, and water 1 pint, or what is the same. 60 lbs. sugar and 3 gallons of water.
Dissolve the sugar in the water by heat, removing any scum that forms upon it, and strain while hot. This can be kept in a barrel or keg, and is always ready to flavor.

(The author goes on to suggest that most purchased syrups are artificially manufactured - as described below - and for true flavor use your own jam or extract. The artificials are outlined below - without any claim to their efficacy or safety.)

Artificial Colors and flavors:

Pine apple is left without color. The flavor is made by the addition of butyric ether to taste.

Raspberry Flavor - Take orris root, bruised, any quantity, say 1/4 lb.,. and just handsomely cover it with dilute alcohol (76% alcohol and water in equal amounts) so that it cannot be made any stronger of the root. This is called the "Saturated Tincture" and use sufficient of this tincture to give the desired or natural taste of the raspberry, from which it cannot be distinguished.

Strawberry Flavor - The saturated tincture of orris, as above, 3 oz., acetic-ether, 2 drs.; mix and use sufficient to give the desired flavor. Very little is needed. Deep Red color for Strawberry Syrup: Powered cochineal, 1 oz; soft water, 1 pt.; boil the cochineal in the water for a few minutes, using a copper kettle; while boiling, add 30 grams of powdered alum, and 1 dr. of cream of tartar; when the coloring matter is all out of the cochineal, remove it from the fire and when a little cool, strain, bottle and set aside for future use.

Wintergreen is colored with tincture of camwood (not deep).

Lemon and Ginger are colored with tincture of turmeric, a light shade only.

Sarsaparilla - Simple syrup as described above, and nice golden syrup, equal quantities of each, and mix well; then use a few drops of oils of wintergreen and sassafras to each bottle, as used. The amounts of desired flavors must be varied to suit each taste.

Lemonade to Carry in the Pocket - Loaf Sugar, 1 pound; rub it down finely in a mortar, and add citric acid, 1/2 oz. (tartaric acid will do); and lemon essence 1/2 oz., and continue the tituration until all is intimately mixed, and bottle for use. It is best to keep this mixture dry but it can be packaged with a rounding table-spoon done up in paper and carried conveniently in the pocket when persons are going into out-of-the-way places and added to 1/2 pint of cold water, when all the beauties of lemonade will stand before you waiting to be drank, not costing a penny a glass. This can be made sweeter or more sour, if desired.

Dr. Chase's Recipes, 1866

"The Essence of Coffee"
Among the new inventions and discoveries that are astonishing the world, we have heard of none that promises to be more useful and acceptable, at least to ladies, than "The Essence of Coffee" which is now offered to lovers of that beverage. It is the genuine stuff, put up in bottles, at a low price. You have only to put a tea-spoon full into a cup of water containing the usual compliment of sugar and milk, and you have a cup of superior coffee without further trouble.

Scientific American, March 1847

An ancestor of modern ginger ale (the non-alcoholic parent) Switchel (or ginger water) was carried by workers who would be spending a long day working in the sun.

For 6 serving:
1/2 - 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 cup cider vinegar (homemade, ideally)
2 guart jug and funnel
Dissolve brown sugar and ginger in vinegar and put in jug with 1 quart cold water and mix.

A few military notes:
General Winfield Scott learned French cooking from an elderly French colonist who had had to abandon Haiti after the Haitian Revolution and settled near the Scott's in Virginia. Later, as a career officer, he traveled extensively around the United States and had an opportunity to acquaint himself with the best restaurants in Paris.

He was as comfortable discussing food preparation as military matters and needed no excuse to launch into a discourse on a culinary enthusiasm.

At a dinner, while discussing a relatively unknown dish, he jotted the following for a lady of his acquaintance:

'Recipe for making the soup called, by French Creoles, 'Gumbo file', say for twelve plates:

Take a grown chicken, cut into many pieces, which fry, and then boil them to rags: 12 to 20 minutes before dishing, put in 30 to 40 oysters, with their liquid, and 6 to 10 minutes later add 23 spoonfuls of sassafras powder; stir the powder in, and if, on lifting the spoon, the composition drains out into a thin thread, you have a genuine "gumbo file". If it does not rope sufficiently, stir in more of the powder. A small piece of bacon, or pork - say 2 to 4 ounces - may be put into the pot at the same time as the fried chicken. Rice, boiled dry, well cooked and each grain perfect, ought to be served separately, to be put into the plate with the gumbo soup.

For Mrs. (George W.) Blunt - with the compliments and respects of

 General Scott

One last Southern dish, the holidays being a time of charity, is essential for a southern New Year dinner. If you did not have this on your table, you were inviting a years bad luck.

Hopping John

1/2 pound bacon, in one piece

1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup long-grain rice

2 cups black-eyed peas, canned or dried

If you use dried peas, soak them over night in cold water. Cook the bacon in 2 quarts water about 1 hour. Then add black-eyed peas and salt. Continue cooking for 30 minutes or until peas are almost tender. Add rice and boil about 15 to 18 minutes longer. Lift out bacon, slice, and set aside, keeping it warm. Drain peas and rice thoroughly, then place in a warm oven for a few minutes or until rice is fluffy. Serve with sliced bacon on top Serves 6.

Pocket Soup:

Take a large shin bone or a knuckle, an onion, salt and pepper, chopped root vegetables such as turnips, chopped celery, 2 chopped green peppers, 1 chopped bunch of carrots, a couple of cabbage leaves or any vegetables of this sort that suit your taste. Put it on to boil with about 2 quarts of water. Boil all day and night and sometimes more until it seems thickened. Strain and pour into a flat pan or dish so it is about 1/4" thick and let it stand to harden. If it does not, it did not boil long enough. When it is set, cut it into 1 1/2" to 2" rounds or squares and set in the sun covered by a cheesecloth (or for the less patient, an oven at low heat) turning frequently to dry. Store in an airtight container with paper between each slice. To reconstitute, pour one pint of hot water on a piece of pocket soup, add a little salt if necessary and you have a good broth. You can carry it in wafer form or powdered. It could be reconstituted or chewed on the hoof.