Fritter Reenactor

The apple fritter may be an Old World classic, but the pumpkin-corn fritter, that’s a strictly New World concoction. Could the early settlers have made such a thing? Well, looking over the ingredients list, there’s almost nothing here they wouldn’t have had access to. Maize, that’s a for sure. Pumpkin, no doubt there either, the Indians had been cultivating them for nearly 5,000 years by then. Maple syrup was a staple of the colonies, at least in the North, and among all who out of conscience elected not to purchase commodities produced by slave labor. For the rest, brown sugar was readily at hand. And while it was a rather expensive rarity (at least early on) wheat flour could be had in New England if you knew where to look for it. As for the spices, they would have been imported.

That leaves leavening. Would the settlers have had baking soda? It’s possible, at least if we’re talking post-1750 or thereabouts. But here again we’re talking about an imported substance. A more common chemical leavener in those days would have been potash or potassium carbonate, basically a kiln-dried reduction of lye, which itself is a wood extract, made by soaking charcoal or ashes in water. Potash, like soda, is an alkaline, and was a big-time export in those days (Europe had precious little left in the way of trees, you see, but needed potash for glass making). But while potash may have been abundant in those days, it certainly wasn’t something people ate if they could possibly avoid it. Any anyway, the Dutch were leavening their olykoeks (or proto-doughnuts) with yeast around that time. My guess is that anyone who might have thought to mix up another fried treat like this (an early Emeril, let’s say, only in knee-socks) would have used the same basic leavening technique.

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