5 Survival Recipes That Came From the Pioneers Who Lived on the Oregon Trail

prairie wagon

The road out west may not have been paved, and it may not have been easy. But luckily, some comforts still remained during this time of struggle. Here are 5 delicious recipes from pioneers that lived through the Oregon Trail!

Fart & Dart Beans

What you need:

1 lb cut up bacon

1 chopped onion

½ tsp minced garlic

½ tsp prepared mustard

½ cup vinegar

1 cup brown sugar

What to do:

Mix together one 16 ounce can of the following: Pinto beans, pork & beans, red kidney beans, lima beans, white northern beans and butter beans.

Fry the bacon until done, but not crisp. Pour beans, bacon, onion and garlic into large pan and mix. Simmer for 15 minutes a combination of the mustard, vinegar, and brown sugar.

Pour the liquid over the beans and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Mix the beans a couple of times during the cooking process.

Currant Bread

What you need:

1 yeast cake

1/4 cup lukewarm water

9 cups flour

2 cups shortening

1 pound raisins

1 pound dried currants

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup molasses

3 halves candied lemon peel, cut fine

1 tablespoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon salt

3 cups (about) water

What to do:

Soften yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Cut shortening into flour. Add remaining ingredients, including yeast mixture, except water. Mix thoroughly, then add enough warm water (about 3 cups) to make a soft but not sticky dough. Let rise overnight (about 7 hours), then form into 4 small loaves. Let rise again (about 2 hours) and bake at 300° F. for 1 1/2 hours. Especially good with cheese.

Potato Cakes 

The precursor for pancakes this recipe actually came across the Oregon Trail with a woman from Austria.

What you will need:

6 medium potatoes

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1 cup flour


What to do:

Wash and peel potatoes, then grate medium fine. Combine with salt, milk, eggs, and flour. Drop mixture by spoonfuls into hot shortening in skillet and fry until golden brown on both sides.

Swiss Apple Cherry Pie

What you need:

4 large cooking apples

6 tablespoons butter

2 1/2 cups pitted sour pie cherries, fresh or canned

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

What to do:

Make pastry for two-crust pie. Pare, core, and slice apples. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and brush on the bottom of pastry shell. Arrange a layer of apples on bottom of pastry shell. Mix dry ingredients and sprinkle portion over the layer of apples. Arrange a layer of red cherries, then sprinkle with some of the dry ingredients; then a layer of apples and dry ingredients; a layer of cherries and dry ingredients; and end with the layer of apples. Top with dots of remaining butter. After top crust is added to pie, rub crust with cream or evaporated milk and sprinkle with the mixture of 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Bake at 425° F. for 30 to 40 minutes.

Butterless, Eggless, Milkless Cake

What you need:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup cold water

1 1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup shortening

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp salt

What to do:

Boil the above together for 3 minutes. Let cool. Then add:

1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2 tbsp (25 mL) hot water

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Bake in a flat pan at 350°F (180°C) for 35 to 40 minutes.

With these recipes, you'll be sure to experience the simple deliciousness of food made from scratch. And this might be a better way to appreciate that journey of the Oregon Trail, rather than just getting annoyed when your axle breaks on your pixelated wagon…

For more amazing recipes, check out Pioneer Settler!

Featured Image via Heather Paul/Flickr