Chicken Coop Chatter©
It is believed that the Vinegar pie was originally created in the pioneer days, as something of a version of a Chess Pie that came from England to the New World. Vinegar pie has intrigued me for a long time, and though I had researched it long ago, I still hadn't made one, even though the ingredients and method is very simple. Pioneers had few options in winter months for the sweets they no doubt longed for when the fresh fruits they stored were eaten and any dried fruits were reserved for other purposes.
Chess Pie and Vinegar Pie are somewhat related in that they use basically the same ingredients, though Chess Pie had the addition of corn meal rather than flour. Regardless they both use similar ingredients and both are similar to a Lemon Pie, yet no lemon is used, except in modern interpretations.
As with all things, the Pioneers made do with what they had available, which was generally flour, eggs, lard, butter and vinegar. Because we believe in self-reliance it was a must for me to make a Vinegar pie as closely to an original as possible, including the Pioneer Crust that you'll find at the following link.
I chose to make the pie in a cast iron skillet rather than a modern pie pan, because that was most likely the vessel they were originally baked in whether the pioneers had a cast iron cooking stove or relied upon an open fire or fire place.
In my research I looked at a variety of recipes for Vinegar pie, that added a modern twist and my purpose was to create as close to original as possible. The original pie was one crust. Likely because flour was scarce until Spring when the Pioneers were able to travel to the nearest mercantile or trading post to replenish supplies. They would have made their own Apple Cider Vinegar, not a distilled white version I've seen in recipes, and they would not have had access to Lemons, Lemon or Lime extracts that have also been added in the modern versions. They may have had Vanilla, possibly corn syrup, but most likely sugar, raw brown or white or molasses would have been in the pantry and if they had Vanilla, it was used sparingly and for very special occasions.
Vinegar Pie is mentioned in a variety of books whether historic or fictional, such as Vinegar pie,: And other tales of the Grand Traverse region, by Al Barnes, 1959, which is out of print, but may be available via used book stores. Al Barnes was the grandfather of one of our devoted followers, Deborah Schmuckal. Though I had never come across Mr. Barnes recipe or book, somehow he must have channeled me to post an authentic version of this pie. Thank you Deborah for your gracious permission to use your grandfather's recipe.
Laura Ingalls Wilder in her Little House on the Prairie series referenced Vinegar Pie as a fond memory at Christmas time. The books that mention the Vinegar pie or the ingredients, each refer to Vinegar, water, flour, eggs and sugar as the main ingredients in a single crust. They were not topped with another crust and did not have a meringue topping that I've seen in modern versions. Pioneers would have used their supplies very sparingly and if a pie could be made with one crust rather than two, that saved the flour, lard and salt for more important things, such as the bread and biscuits they relied on for each meal.
The pie crust I made for this was also using only supplies and methods available to the pioneers. Flour, water, lard or butter and salt, with a bit of sugar. They would not have had access to refrigeration to keep the dough cold, and the lard or butter would have been solid, but soft unless they had a spring house to keep it chilled, which not everyone had and definitely few had an ice house or ice cave for storage, so most likely the cellar kept things at a cool 40-45 degrees. Those traveling across the prairie would not have had any chilled products. Because of this, I did not refrigerate the dough and I did not use ice water as so many modern recipes call for. My crust was intended to be as authentic as possible given the supplies that would have been available.
PIONEER VINEGAR PIE
Chicken Coop Chatter©
Makes enough for an 8 " pie crust
1/2 C. Brown sugar
2 T. Molasses
1 T. Pure Apple Cider vinegar
2 T. Flour
1 C. water
pinch of salt
With a wooden spoon, mix all the ingredients together until smooth. This will be a thin filling. Pour into a half baked pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees 30 minutes or until you jiggle the skillet and can see the filling is set. Allow to cool. Serve at room temperature.
NOTE: If you would like to make your own vinegar, follow my link to easy, homemade vinegar http://justfowlingaround.weebly.com/recipes-for-self-reliance/category/how-to-make-vinegar
NOTE: If you would like to make my Pioneer Pie crust, refer to my link. http://justfowlingaround.weebly.com/recipes-for-self-reliance/pioneer-pie-crust
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