'Pioneer Recipes' gives a peek back in culinary time

Published: Tuesday, July 23 2013 5:45 p.m. MDT

"Pioneer Recipes" was published in 1950 by the Deseret News as part of the newspaper's centennial celebration.

Christine Rappleye

Cooking techniques, gadgets and dietary standards have changed since the pioneers first came to the valley — and even since 1950 when the Deseret News published a collection of historical recipes in “Pioneer Recipes” as part of its centennial celebration.

“It is only fair to point out that few recipes are reprinted here as they were originally prepared by the pioneers, but many show a basic authenticity of pioneer flavor,” the book introduction states.

The recipes originate throughout Europe, including Scandinavian countries, England and Germany, along with those from Asia, Russia, and a few from those who served then-recent Mormon missions to South America.

It’s divided into a dozen sections, with at least a couple dozen recipes in each category — along with winners for each.

Advertisements were on the backs of the pages of the stand-up cookbook, and displayed jewelry, electric water heaters, sugar, butter, milk, among other wares.

The electric ovens ad proclaimed, “You get the exact cooking temperatures you want … when you cook electrically.”

So, it’s safe to say that there are probably appliances, like electric mixers and apparently electric ovens, that help make creating these easier and it’s also possible to make these with the simplest of kitchen tools.

Be prepared to keep a watchful eye on it. Every recipe tested that needed baking seemed to be done quicker than the suggested baking times. Also, these are generally the original recipes with a few formatting changes and notes where the testing suggested differently.

The contest and compilation of “Pioneer Recipes” was led by Jean Ward, the Woman’s Page and “Mid-Week” editor, and Winnifred Jardine, the long-time food editor.



Second place, candies category

Makes: 24 bars

1 pound raisins

8 ounces figs

8 ounces dates

1 cup pitted prunes

juice of 1 orange

zest of 1 orange

1 cup English walnuts, chopped or broken

Grind together the fruits and orange zest. Blend thoroughly with orange juice and walnuts. Shape into balls or into flat bars.

These goodies should be allowed to stand for 24 hours in order to ripen.

Descendants of the pioneers have found that dipping these fruit candies in milk chocolate makes them exceptionally tasty.

Testing note: I cut the fruit into small pieces and put it all in a plastic zip-seal bag and used a rolling pin to mash and combine it, as I don’t have a food processor. (And the pioneers didn’t have one, either.) The stores I went to were out of figs, so I substituted dried cherries and dried mangoes. Other fruits can be swapped, as I’m assuming the pioneers used what they had on hand.

— recipe by Marba C. Josephson, “Pioneer Recipes”



First place, cakes category

2 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

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