Trail-food in 1750s New England

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Boston123

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So, a question that I already have a great deal of info about, but just want to discuss.

As per the title; what would be some 'period-correct" examples of "trail food" for mid-1700s New England? Such as something carried by a militiaman on a scout or patrol, or a hunter doing their thing in the woods? I am primarily focusing on someone that is responsible for their own equipment and supply, as opposed to being issued equipment and supplies like a soldier.

I have been watching Townsends cooking videos, as should everyone, and they are very good, but my main concern is that they apparently deal primarily with the rough midwest, in the late 1700s and early 1800s. He has several videos on the production of pemmican, for example. Which are nice... but I don't know if pemmican was produced and used in New England several decades before, since his sources primarily discuss the Fur Trade and upper Midwest-into-Canada.

How far east did did the buffalo roam? For how long? Was other meat used? Etc

I would imagine that stuff like bread (both grain and corn-based), smoked and salted meats, and variously-preserved vegetables like onions, carrots, potatoes (although I am unsure just when potatoes were introduced to New England), etc, would be commonly carried, and a great deal of that could and would be eaten uncooked, which is great because I have no actual idea what period cooking equipment is. I want to try and stay away from 'military issue" cooking gear, stuff like this (Stainless Steel Cooking Pot), and from stuff that would be waaaayyyy too heavy for a man to carry for an appreciable distance, like this (2 Quart Cast Iron Pot).
 

Brokennock

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Buffalo/bison, as well as elk, were common into Kentucky and even Pennsylvania at the time.
I've read of dried fruit, think apples and peaches, maybe raisins,,, as well as the more obvious dried meat such as jerky. Parched corn and rockahominy seem to always get a mention.
Not sure about "preserved vegetables," as a trail food. This would seem to be restricted to vegetables that can be dried. I've read of folks drying string/green beans, maybe peas. I'm not sure when the beams we normally buy dry came into play, kidney beans/navy beans/black eyed peas and the like.
Aged cheese maybe? Some dried sausages? I'm thinking of "the plowman's lunch," taken further afield.
 

JohnnieT

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I should think the folks you are discussing would have relied heavily on wild edibles to supplement any dried/preserved food they carried. Think wild onion, dandelion, etc. Available species would differ by region. Deer, squirrel, rabbit, and various game birds were available. The Townsend’s channel has a few good videos on meat preservation and long term storage. They also have a couple of videos on preserved fish, which may have been a common part of the diet for some folks.
 

Loyalist Dave

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As per the title; what would be some 'period-correct" examples of "trail food" for mid-1700s New England? Such as something carried by a militiaman on a scout or patrol, or a hunter doing their thing in the woods? I am primarily focusing on someone that is responsible for their own equipment and supply, as opposed to being issued equipment and supplies like a soldier.

So,

Pinole. – All of our early chroniclers praised this parched meal as the most nourishing food known. In New England it went by the name of “nocake”, a corruption of the Indian word nookik. William wood, who in 1634, wrote the first topographical account of Massachusetts Colony, says of nocake that “It is Indian corn parched in the hot ashes, the ashes being sifted from it ; it is afterwards beaten to powder and put into a long leatherne bag trussed at the Indian’s backe like a knapsacke, out of which they take three spoonsful a day.” Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, sad that a spoonful of nocake mixed with water made him “many a good meal”. Roger did not affirm, however, that it made him a square meal, nor did he mention the size of his spoon. Horace Kephart Camping and Woodcraft

So THIS stuff was pretty much universal in North America. It was know by lots of names, Tassamane, Gofio, Pinole, and where I live, it was called Rockahominy. It is documented in the Southwest in Spanish sources, all the way up to New England. Wherever corn cultivation had spread.

There are two ways for you to carry this. The first is what is documented above. It is parched corn that is then turned into a coarse flour. So you need to get hold of some dry "dent" corn. THEN you dry roast the kernels in a steel or cast iron skillet, without oil or grease. They will make a popping sound but they are much drier than popping corn so they don't rupture and puff. A little browning is all that is needed to a) destroy any insect eggs or micro organisms in the kernels, and b) softens the outer husk to let you chew the kernels.

THEN you grind up the parched kernels into the rockahominy (or in your case you'd call it "nocake")

Any place where you had nocake, you started with parched corn, so you can have both.

I like the parched corn as it is crunchy, and the human body when hungry sometimes likes that sensation when taking in calories. I like the nocake as it can in an emergency or heavy hiking situation be taken as a tablespoon or two, followed by a several mouthfulls of water. In a hot camp, boiling water can have the nocake added to make a porridge, and if you have other stuff such as jerked meat, this can be added to the porridge to make a sort of stew.

I use a steel skillet, and then I grind the corn in an electric coffee grinder.

Honeyville Dried Yellow Dent Corn is what I used, but they are out of stock right now. That sized back is at least a year's supply of dry corn. (Share some with your friends LOL) Honeyville does have it in white corn. Once ground, nobody will know the dif.

LD
 
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New England was big, and wilderness of Main wasn’t the same as Massachusetts.
Venison was considered poor eats and where other food was to be found it was grabbed first
A militia man would not expect to be too far from home, a need for ships bread might not be expected. A corn cake or anna-damma type mixed grain may be more likely.
Pork was a preferred meat, salt or smoked.
Raw any thing was considered dangerous and even fruit was often cooked first.
Pies with a thick hard pastry and meat, fish, veggie or fruit filling was common, as it would keep several days.
 

Boston123

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So,

Pinole. – All of our early chroniclers praised this parched meal as the most nourishing food known. In New England it went by the name of “nocake”, a corruption of the Indian word nookik. William wood, who in 1634, wrote the first topographical account of Massachusetts Colony, says of nocake that “It is Indian corn parched in the hot ashes, the ashes being sifted from it ; it is afterwards beaten to powder and put into a long leatherne bag trussed at the Indian’s backe like a knapsacke, out of which they take three spoonsful a day.” Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, sad that a spoonful of nocake mixed with water made him “many a good meal”. Roger did not affirm, however, that it made him a square meal, nor did he mention the size of his spoon. Horace Kephart Camping and Woodcraft

So THIS stuff was pretty much universal in North America. It was know by lots of names, Tassamane, Gofio, Pinole, and where I live, it was called Rockahominy. It is documented in the Southwest in Spanish sources, all the way up to New England. Wherever corn cultivation had spread.

There are two ways for you to carry this. The first is what is documented above. It is parched corn that is then turned into a coarse flour. So you need to get hold of some dry "dent" corn. THEN you dry roast the kernels in a steel or cast iron skillet, without oil or grease. They will make a popping sound but they are much drier than popping corn so they don't rupture and puff. A little browning is all that is needed to a) destroy any insect eggs or micro organisms in the kernels, and b) softens the outer husk to let you chew the kernels.

THEN you grind up the parched kernels into the rockahominy (or in your case you'd call it "nocake")

Any place where you had nocake, you started with parched corn, so you can have both.

I like the parched corn as it is crunchy, and the human body when hungry sometimes likes that sensation when taking in calories. I like the nocake as it can in an emergency or heavy hiking situation be taken as a tablespoon or two, followed by a several mouthfulls of water. In a hot camp, boiling water can have the nocake added to make a porridge, and if you have other stuff such as jerked meat, this can be added to the porridge to make a sort of stew.

I use a steel skillet, and then I grind the corn in an electric coffee grinder.

Honeyville Dried Yellow Dent Corn is what I used, but they are out of stock right now. That sized back is at least a year's supply of dry corn. (Share some with your friends LOL) Honeyville does have it in white corn. Once ground, nobody will know the dif.

LD

I actually had some dried dent-corn laying around, so I busted some out and browned it on a dry frying pan.

When it was cooking, it didn't smell or look particularly appetizing, kind of like weird almost-burnt not-popcorn, but.... man, when I ground it, the smell made my mouth water.

Unfortunately, the $20 hand-mill I got from Amazon looks like it ground off metal into the grain, so I guess I won't be using it any more. How well does the coffee-grinder work? Coffee-beans and corn-kernels are about the same size, so I am assuming things will work out well enough.
 

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Here's a quick read that talks about the buffalo's range during colonial times.


And a much more detailed article about bison is in this link.

You are being redirected...
 

Loyalist Dave

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Unfortunately, the $20 hand-mill I got from Amazon looks like it ground off metal into the grain, so I guess I won't be using it any more. How well does the coffee-grinder work? Coffee-beans and corn-kernels are about the same size, so I am assuming things will work out well enough.

Yeah actually I think you can get the stuff too fine with a coffee grinder... ground smaller than they would've but I've never used a quern to hand grind grain. It probably is close enough that if we went back in time it would be recognized as the same stuff. Of course the finer the grind the faster the digestion, so I think a medium grind would be the best.

I wonder if the local market will get peeved if I use their coffee mill set on medium, and then run a pound of coffee through that I also buy to ensure the neighbors don't get corn-coffee. I might have a teeny amount of coffee grounds in the nocake, but it won't hurt me, especially if I mix it throughout.

LD
 

Lone Carabiner

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Here's a quick read that talks about the buffalo's range during colonial times.


And a much more detailed article about bison is in this link.

You are being redirected...
there is (was?) a plaque near the blue ridge parkway in the mount mitchell area commemorating (? mourning maybe better term) the killing (extinction?) of the last eastern bison around 1800. been years since I was out that way.
elk have been reintroduced to the smoky mountain park area some years back, one wandered into upstate south carolina before some fool gunned it down.
 

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