Confederate Recipes

As the the Civil War progressed, both sides faced hard times, but the South found it particularly difficult. Farmers became soldiers, and a large percentage of Southern crops were used to feed the troops in the field.

Union troops blockaded the 3,000 miles of Southern coast, and commercial trade was prohibited between the Confederacy and the rest of the United States. Clothes, food, and many other items were no longer flowing into the South.

Food became more and more scarce as Northern troops cut rail transport lines. While Southern farmers switched from cotton and tobacco crops to cultivating edible products, there was often no way to package the food for transport.

Most Southern civilians gladly shared their food with Confederate troops; by growing more than they needed, by inviting soldiers to share from their table, and by limiting their own consumption. The rule among the South was personal sacrifice and devotion to the ideal of preserving the homeland.

Southerners made do with the food they had available to them. Some of their recipes are provided below, some of them modernized for todaCampfiresy’s provisions.

Artificial Oysters

  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 ounces of whole kernel corn
    • Beat eggs, adding flour, a tablespoon at a time until smooth. Add salt, pepper, corn, and 2-3 teaspoons of water (or liquid from canned corn). Make oval cakes 3 x 2 1/2 inches. Fry in a mixture of butter and oil. Turn once. Drain corn oysters on paper. Serve with roast chicken or beef, if available. They may also be eaten with maple syrup or honey.

Cottage Cheese

The next recipe, from the Confederate Receipt Book, published in 1863, describes how ot prepare homemade cottage cheese:

    This is a good way of using up a pan of milk that is found to be turning sour. Having covered it, set it in a warm place till it becomes a curd, then pour off the liquid, and tie up the curd in a clean linen bag with a pointed end, and set a bowl under it to catch the droppings, but do not squeeze it. After it has drained ten or twelve hours transfer the curd to a deep dish, enrich it with some cream, and press and chop it with a large spoon till it is a soft mass, adding as you proceed an ounce or more of nice fresh butter.

  • Note: On the remainder of this page, text in italics is from the Confederate Receipt Book.

Indian Sagamite

    Three parts of Indian meal and one of brown sugar, mixed and browned over the fire, will make the food known as Sagamite. Used in small quantities, it not only appeases hunger but allays thirst, and is therefore useful to soldiers on a scout.

South Boston Brown Bread

  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached or all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 pint buttermilk or sour milk
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add raisins. Stir. Mix buttermilk and molasses, and pour into the first mixture. Blend all ingredients together well, and pour into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes. Yields one loaf.

    • Notes:
      • To sour milk, put 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar in a pint measuring cup. Add milk to make 2 cups. Stir, and let sit a few minutes, until clabbered.
      • This bread is named after South Boston, in Halifax County, Virginia.

Corn Bread

  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup unbleached or all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • Combine the first five ingredients. Stir in cornmeal and flour. Add the melted butter. Pour batter into a greased 8-inch square pan. Bake at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Molasses Corn Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup unbleached or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • Combine dry ingredients. Add liquids and blend well. Pour into a greased 9x9-inch baking dish and bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. You can make muffins with the same mixture by pouring it into 18 greased muffin tins and baking at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Cornmeal Loaves

  • 4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 2 cups unbleached or all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 cups buttermilk or sour milk
  • Mix dry ingredients. Stir in butter and buttermilk. Blend well. Pour batter into two greased 9x5-inch loaf pans. Let stand for 15 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes.


From the Confederate Receipt Book, three recipes for biscuits follow.

    Take one quart of flour, three teaspoonfuls of cream of tartar, mixed well through the flour, two tablespoons of shortening, one teaspoonful of soda, dissolved in warm water, of a sufficient quantity to mould the quart of flour. For large families the amount can be doubled.

    Take two quarts of flour, two ounces of butter, half pint of boiling water, one teaspoonful of salt, one pint of cold milk, and half cup yeast. Mix well and set to rise, then mix a teaspoonful of saleratus in a little water and mix into dough, roll on a board an inch thick, cut into small biscuits, and bake twenty minutes.

    One quart of sour milk, one teaspoonful of soda, one of salt, a piece of butter the size of an egg, and flour enough to make them roll out.

Also from the Confederate Receipt Book, a recipe for nice buns:

    Take three quarters of a pound of sifted flour, two large spoonfuls of brown sugar, two spoonfuls of good yeast, add a little salt, stir well together, and when risen work in two spoonfuls of butter, make into buns, set it to rise again, and bake on tins.

Another Recipe for Nice Buns

  • 1 heaping tablespoon baking yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey or sugar
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Dissolve yeast in warm water with honey added. When mixture froths and bubbles up, add the 2 cups warm water and the oil. Meanwhile, combine flour, wheat germ, and salt. Combine the two mixtures and mix thoroughly. Turn out on a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary. Form a large ball of dough and put it in a greased bowl, turning the ball once to grease its entire surface. Cover, set in a warm place, and allow to rise until double in bulk, which may take an hour or more. Next, divide the dough, using a knife, into 16 balls. Flatten slightly. Place on a greased baking sheets. Let rise again until almost doubled in size. Bake at 450 degrees F for ten minutes. Makes 16 buns.

    • Baking powder didn’t become commercially available until the late 1860s. It was made from a carefully measured ratio of cream of tartar and soda. Prior to the introduction of baking powder, women leavened their breads and cakes with sour milk and molasses, or pearl ash (potassium carbonate), or saleratus (a commercial preparation of potassium bicarbonate.

Whole Wheat Biscuits (Using Today’s Leavening Agents)

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups unbleached or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • Mix dry ingredients. Combine oil and milk. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients quickly. Drop spoonfuls of dough on greased baking sheets, leaving enough space between the biscuits to allow for expansion. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 12 minutes.

Buckwheat Cakes

  • 1 tablespoon baking yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey or sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • Dissolve yeast in warm water, adding salt and sweetener. Beat in remaining ingredients with a rotary beater or whisk. At this point, cover and let rise for 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight in a 3-quart container. If refrigerated, let the batter come to room temperature before using. Cook pancakes on a lightly greased griddle, or in a skillet, over medium heat. Flip pancakes when small bubbles appear. Remove when they stop steaming. Makes about sixteen 4-inch pancakes.

Pumpkin Bread

    Boil a good pumpkin in water till it is quite thick, pass it through a sieve, and mix flour so as to make a good dough. This makes an excellent bread.

Soldier around campfireLoaf Rice Bread

    Boil a pint of rice soft, add a pint of leaven, then three quarts of rice flour, put it to rise in a tin or earthen vessel, until it has raised sufficiently; divide it into three parts, and bake it as other bread, and you will have three large loaves, or scald the flour, and when cold mix half wheat flour or corn meal, raised with leaven in the usual way.

    One quart of rice flour, make it into a stiff pap, by wetting with warm water, not so hot as to make it lumpy, when well wet add boiling water, as much as two or three quarts, stir it continually until it boils, put in half pint of yeast when it cools, and a little salt, knead in as much wheat flour as will make it a proper dough for bread, put it to rise, and when risen add a little more wheat flour, let it stand in a warm place half an hour, and bake it. This same mixture only made thinner and baked in rings make excellent muffins.

Jonny Cakes

    To three spoonfuls of soft boiled rice add a small tea cup of water or milk, then add six spoonfuls of rice flour, which will make a large Jonny cake or six waffles.

Rice Cakes

    Take a pint of soft boiled rice, a half pint of milk or water, to which add twelve spoonfuls of the rice flour, divide it into small cakes, and bake them in a brick oven.

Rice Pudding

    Take a quart of milk, add a pint of the (rice) flour, boil them to a pap, beat up six eggs, to which add six spoonfuls of Havana sugar and a spoonful of butter, which when well beaten together add the milk and flour, grease the pan it is to be baked in, grate nutmeg over the mixture and bake it.

Bread Pudding

  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Mix together and place in a baking dish. Bake 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees F. Pass lemon sauce for each person to spoon onto their portion of bread pudding.

      Lemon Sauce

      • 1/3 cup sugar
      • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
      • 1/8 teaspoon salt
      • 1 cup water
        • Combine. Cook until smooth and thickened. Add and heat:
          • 2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
          • 1/3 cup lemon juice
          • 1 tablespoon butter

Jeff Davis Pie

  • 1 cup brown or white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached or all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of a 50% mixture of milk and cream (half-and-half)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
  • Prepare meringue
    • 4 egg whites
    • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Whole eggs can be used in the filling instead of the meringue.
  • Combine sugar, flour and salt. Beat cream, egg yolks, and vanilla. Add to sugar mixture. Pour in melted butter. Spoon into unbaked pie shell and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Top with prepared meringue and brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Apple Pie Without Apples

    To one small bowl of crackers, that have been soaked until no hard parts remain, add one teaspoonful of tartaric acid, sweeten to your taste, add some butter, and a very little nutmeg.

Cider Jelly

    Boil cider to the consistence of syrup, and let it cool, and you have nice jelly.

Coffee Substitute

    Take sound ripe acorns, wash them while in the shell, dry them, and parch until they open, take the shell off, roast with a little bacon fat, and you will have a splendid cup of coffee.

Cream Substitute

    Beat the white of an egg to a froth, put to it a very small lump of butter, and mix well, then turn the coffee to it gradually, so that it may not curdle. If perfectly done it will be an excellent substitute for cream. For tea omit the butter, using only the egg.