Cornmeal Pancakes Like flour, pioneers brought along tons of cornmeal for the trail. Cornmeal was easy to make and transport, so travelers got creative with how they used it in their meals . A favorite food on the Oregon Trail was cornmeal pancakes, which could easily be fried up over the campfire.
Corn and beans were common, along with pork. In the north, cows provided milk, butter, and beef, while in the south, where cattle were less common, venison and other game provided meat. Preserving food in 1815, before the era of refrigeration, required smoking, drying, or salting meat.
As for desserts — they were simple, but many and varied. There were apple dump- lings, rice and bread puddings, soft molasses cookies, sugar jumbles, and mincemeat, pumpkin, dried apple, or custard pies. On special occasions we might have lemon pie. It was not necessary to skimp on eggs or milk.
Much of the food was cooked over an open-hearth fireplace with a few utensils, perhaps made of wood or gourds, an iron skillet, a pot for boiling, an iron griddle, and a tea kettle. The early pioneers survived by eating meat, wild berries, and food they found in the forest.
Breakfast – Corn bread , cold bread , stew, boiled eggs. Dinner – Soup, cold joint, calves’ head, vegetables .
Most pioneers used the typical farm wagon with a canvas cover stretched over hooped frames. An emigrant wagon was not comfortable to ride in, since wagons lacked springs and there was little room to sit inside the wagon because most space was taken up with cargo.
Bread, potatoes, cabbage, beans and various cereals were the base of local cuisine. There was usually only one dish per one meal on the table on regular days. On holidays, there could be several dishes served during the same meal, but they were the same as those cooked on regular days, as a rule. Meat was seldom eaten .
The more plain saloon would serve cold cuts, or yellow cheese; beans, stalks of celery — whatever was easy to procure and inexpensive to serve . Above all, the free lunch featured salted food : pretzels, rye bread, smoked herring, salted peanuts, potato chips, and dill pickles.
We made “ pioneer taffy” and old fashioned rock candy . They took a little while to cook, but in the end it was worth it! Just fyi, the pioneer taffy is a hard candy , not a soft chewy taffy. Here are your ingredients for the Pioneer Taffy: sugar, water, glycerine, corn syrup, salt, vanilla, (or flavored oil) and butter.
The typical pioneer diet consisted of corn-meal mush, white or navy beans, salt-rising bread, dried fruit (if they had it), and any meat they may get along the trail. Things that packed well like flour or beans were the staples.
They had races and played games such as Sheep Over the River, Hide and Seek, Pull the Rope, and Steal-Stick Duck-Stones. They also sang and danced. They made dolls from corn cobs and rags and used a bladder balloon for ball games.
Where did the pioneers sleep ? Pioneers slept in or under their wagons. Some slept in a tent and some slept just out under the stars.
They took cornmeal, bacon, eggs, potatoes, rice, beans, yeast, dried fruit, crackers, dried meat, and a large barrel of water that was tied to the side of the wagon. If the pioneers could take a cow, they would. The cow was used for milk and meat if they ran out of food.
Along the trail, the staples of a cowboy diet consisted of beans , hard biscuits , dried meat, dried fruit , and coffee . Occasionally, a type of bread known as pan de campo (or “camp bread”), which was cooked on a skillet was also available. These along with a little bit of sugar were the staples of the chuckwagon pantry.