Back in the Eighties, the country music group, Alabama, had a song called “Song of the South,” that was very popular. Within the lyrics is a line that goes, “Somebody told us Wall Street fell, but we were so poor we couldn’t tell.” Unfortunately, for millions in our nation, things haven’t changed much. For too many, The Great Depression, is alive and well even in America, the Land of Plenty. Many is the two income family that is desperately trying to make ends meet.
But before this begins to sound political, this blog post isn’t about politics, it’s about good ‘ole Southern baking. Though it would be difficult to find any Southerner who doesn’t freely offer an opinion on politics when prompted even slightly. We all know and have experienced moments of needing to cut back on spending and savor what we already have. And many recipes of Southern origin focus on doing a lot with oh so little. Vinegar Pie certainly fills a sweet tooth on very sparse ingredients.
The origins of Vinegar Pie go back to our pioneer days when fresh produce was difficult to come by. Whether travelling across country, or simply trying to make a living off the land where one settled and called home, fresh fruit was a luxury, and many times not available.
The taste of this pie is a contradiction of its name. It isn’t acidic as its moniker suggests. It is a truly sweet and flavorful pie. Many are the variations as some recipes call for apple cider vinegar and others for distilled, white vinegar. I’ll include two recipes here for those with either one staple in the pantry or the other. If you have never tried Vinegar Pie, you will be surprised by how such simple ingredients can become such a flavorsome treat!
Recipe for Vinegar Pie:
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
¼ cup of melted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 unbaked pie shell for 9 inch pie
Preheat oven to 350*. Combine the sugar, eggs, melted butter, salt and vinegar in a large bowl. Stir until ingredients are well blended. Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool or serve slightly warm. (This pie is even better with a dollop of whipped cream on top).
Recipe for Vinegar Pie
3 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups boiling water
¼ cup vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon flavoring or lemon juice
6 tablespoons sugar
Beat egg yolks until thick. Mix sugar and salt with flour, blend well. Add boiling water slowly while stirring. Add vinegar. Cook over hot water, stirring until smooth and thick.
Remove from heat and add flavoring or juice. Allow mixture to cool. Pour into a baked pie shell.
Make meringue of egg whites and 6 tablespoons of sugar. Spread over top of pie. Brown in slow oven at 325*.
(This is a recipe I found in an old cookbook, North Carolina and Old Salem Cookery by Elizabeth Hedgecock Sparks (Beth Tartan)).