What in the World is Vinegar Pie: Recreating a Historic Recipe



Hi Craig, thanks for your comment. She certainly does, and the adult woman looks so menacing! I promise I did not force anyone to eat this pie.

Hi Paul. Thanks for your comment. The color photos were taken by someone in the Senturia household who wished to remain uncredited. For the historic photos, you’ll find that if you click on them, the pop-up this produces includes an info link directly to the image in our digital collection. Thanks for reading!


What a fun experiment! It is always tricky to figure out those old recipes. We make vinegar pie at the Littleton Museum as part of our foodways program on our 1860s living history farm. It is really very delicious and the recipe we use does not call for meringue on top. The consistency is similar to a chess pie, and if you try this again, cook it at a higher heat-425 degrees. We cook ours in a dutch oven using coals from the hearth so we don't use exact temperatures and we leave the pie in the dutch oven adding more coals as necessary until the pie tests done. You are supposed to use apple cider vinegar as that would have been most common in the 19th century and easily made if you grew your own apples and pressed them in the fall. I encourage you to try this recipe again.

Suellen, thank you for the encouragement. Your version of the pie sounds much more enjoyable, as does the experience on the farm! Glad to hear my guess about apple cider vinegar was correct. I'll try another round (and will come visit the museum)!


In the book Sourdough Biscuits and Pioneer Pies by Gail L. Jenner, p. 70, there is a recipe for Vinegar Pie. It is similar, but uses 1/4 of sugar and 1/4 cup of molasses to a ratio of just 2 Tablespoons of vinegar in the filling. The author does not date the recipe, but says that it comes from a collection dating to the late 1800s. If you are interested in trying again it might be a more palatable result.


I remember my mother talking about a "hot oven" or "slow oven" etc. So I checked Wikipedia and sure enough there is a table of temperatures along with those kinds of descriptions. It says a "hot oven" is 400-450 F, so Suellen's 425 degrees fits right in there. And definitely apple cider vinegar. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oven_temperatures

Thank you for sharing, Linda! I love this description from the wiki page, "Cooks estimated the temperature of an oven by counting the number of minutes it took to turn a piece of white paper golden brown...."

So fascinating how folks "made do" in the absence of regular measurements.

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