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1835 by Sarah E McMahon shows numerically how seasons gradually extended. It's in "'All Things in Their Proper Season': Seasonal Rhythms of Diet in Nineteenth Century New England," in Vol. 63, No. 2, Spring 1989 Agricultural History magazine.)


Indian pudding is one of the best­remembered early American foods, but a lot of mythology has grown up around it. For one thing, the name derives from the "Indian meal" (cornmeal) used in a simplified English pudding. Although Native Americans had long made enriched and sweetened cornmeal mushes, this kind of baked pudding was not thought of as Indian food by most early Americans. (The most obvious Indian retention in this recipe is the step of scalding the meal before assembling the pudding.) Settled Native Americans ate this kind of pudding in the Early American period, but probably did not begin thinking of it as an ethnic food until the early twentieth century. It's also im­portant to remember that early American puddings were not very sweet and were not usually eaten as desserts. Indian pudding in particular was often eaten first, before the meats, to fill up on. Many early Indian puddings were boiled in cloth bags, as home ovens were not common in some regions.

This particular recipe is from the manuscript cookbook of Elizabeth C. Kane, a member of a prominent Philadelphia family. The Kanes could afford sugar (possibly brown sugar) in this pudding, where most people used molasses, and farmers might use their own maple or sorghum. The recipe was published by food historian Jan Longone in an article in the Spring-Summer 1986 issue of The American Magazine and Historical Chronicle. I have guessed at the quantities of sugar and spice from other early recipes. The "whey method" is from Lydia Maria Child's American Frugal Housewife, and you may need the extra milk to compensate for the dryness of modern cornmeal. If you increase the recipe, increase the baking time.


“One cup of meal, with one quart of Milk, a pint of which make hot and scald the meal, the other half add cold, three eggs, a lump of butter the size of a large walnut, sugar Cinnamon and nutmeg to your taste bake it one hour: you may add a little ginger if you like it -- Either Wine sauce or butter and sugar mixed together.”

Yield: Serves 8

1 cup yellow cornmeal (stone ground preferred)

1 quart whole milk or half-and-half, plus 2 cups more for optional whey method

3 small eggs or 2 extra large eggs

3 tablespoons salted butter, plus 1 stick for sauce, and some to grease baking dish

3 ounces white or light brown sugar,

plus 1/2 cup for sauce

1 tablespoon mixed cinnamon and nut­meg

1 / 2 teaspoon ginger (optional)

Equipment: 2- or 3-quart baking dish

1. Bring 2 cups of the milk or half-and-­half almost to a boil in a pot or mi­crowave oven.

2. Stir hot milk carefully into the cornmeal.

3. Stir in 3 tablespoons butter and let cool.

4. Break eggs and mix with spices and the 3 ounces of sugar.

5. Mix 2 more cups of milk with the egg mixture, and then work every­thing into the cornmeal.

6. Grease baking dish.



Copyright 2003, 2004 by Mark H. Zanger. Remember, there is no copyright on recipes or other common household formulae, but copyright and fair use laws do apply to selection of recipes and cultural-historical commentary.