Economical Recipes: Gingersnaps and Chowchow

wallflower – Erysimum cheiri

An 1894 edition of Good Housekeeping includes a delightful and informative article on the everyday workings of a small farm in the Ozarks. The “brave and cheerful” housewife at this farm, called Orchard Hill Farm, is “a self-appointed committee of ways and means to see to it that the outgo does not exceed the income.” Indeed, the good farm wife shares a number of ingeniously economical recipes with the journalist from Good Housekeeping. For instance, upon praising the farm wife’s excellent coffee, the journalist finds that it was half sweet potato; “chop them fine, dry and roast them, then grind,” the farm wife reveals, “I use a tablespoon of sweet potato to every tablespoon of coffee.”

Below are two very economical recipes from Orchard Hill Farm: ginger snaps and chowchow, a pickled vegetable stew. Feel free to reduce the quantities given in the recipes; they are intended to feed large crowds of hungry farmhands.

Ginger Snaps

One half gallon of sorghum, two tablespoonfuls of ginger, two tablespoonfuls of salt, one teaspoonful of black pepper, one tablespoonful of cinnamon, two large cupfuls of lard, two tablespoonfuls of soda flour to make a very stiff dough. Bake quickly. This makes a bushel of ginger snaps.


Two quarts of cucumbers, two quarts of green tomatoes, two quarts of onions, two quarts of cauliflower or cabbage. Soak in a weak brine over night. Cook separately until tender. For the paste use one gallon of vinegar, one large cupful of flour, one pound of mustard, one and one half pounds of sugar. Stir the paste until it boils then pour it over the vegetables.


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

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