Apples, vinegar and… calf foot? Seven unusual survival recipes


You can’t survive on canned soup, crackers and dried meat forever when SHTF. You need to learn to adapt and that means knowing how to cook with the ingredients and resources available, no matter how unusual.

If it’s any consolation, early American pioneers likely had to make do with even stranger ingredients because fresh ingredients were hard to come by. They had to adapt when crops failed and harvests were low.

Here are seven pioneer recipes to survive any food crisis: (h/t to

1. Calf’s foot jelly

Calf’s foot jelly is an aspic made by boiling calves’ feet until the natural gelatin is extracted. The boiling liquid is strained and combined with other ingredients, such as wine, lemon juice and spices. The mixture is then stored in the refrigerator to set. If sweetened with raw honey, the jelly can be enjoyed as a dessert.

Here’s an easy recipe for calf’s foot jelly:


  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 calves’ feet cut crosswise
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced


  1. Boil water and add calves’ feet. Skim the scum that forms on top.
  2. Remove the calves’ feet and place them in another pot filled with cold water. Reserve the boiling liquid.
  3. To the same pot, add carrots and onion. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 6 hours.
  4. Remove the calves’ feet. Remove the meat from the bones. Discard the bones.
  5. Chop the meat, tendon and cartilage into small pieces. Place in a bowl with the garlic.
  6. Slice the eggs and lay them evenly on the bottom of a clear glass dish.
  7. Spread the chopped meat and garlic mixture over the eggs. Pour the boiling liquid from earlier.
  8. Place in the refrigerator to cool and harden. Once set, cut into squares and serve.

2. Sweet potato coffee

Coffee grounds will likely be a luxury when SHTF. Sweet potato makes a cheap, healthy and sustainable substitute.

To make sweet potato coffee, start by thinly slicing sweet potatoes. Dehydrate the slices by leaving them out in the sun to dry. You can also dry them in your oven if its temperature can be set to under 200 F. This step will take about 8 hours in an oven or a few days outdoors.

Once dried, grind the slices in a mill or coffee grinder. Mix 2 tablespoons of coffee ground and 3 tablespoons of sweet potato grounds. This way, you still get to enjoy the taste of coffee without quickly depleting your stockpile of coffee grounds.

3. Acorn bread

Wheat can be tedious to prepare for grinding. Try acorns instead. Acorns are loaded with protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates. They are also rich in essential micronutrients, such as phosphorus, potassium and niacin.

To make acorn flour for bread and other baked goods, follow these steps.

  1. Remove the caps from the acorns. Roast the acorns.
  2. Remove the “meat” from the center of the roasted acorns.
  3. Boil water and add the acorn meat. Do this a few times to remove the tannins, the compounds that make acorn meat taste bitter.
  4. Slowly roast the boiled acorn meat over low heat until it is dry.
  5. Once dried, add the acorn meat to a food processor and pulse to make flour. You can do this step manually with a mill or coffee grinder.

4. Mud apple

Mud apples are a Native American recipe that the pioneers saved in their cookbooks. The recipe entails cooking apples in coals without burning them. Back then, they couldn’t just wrap the apples up in aluminum foil and chuck them in the oven. So the cooking method involved in this recipe was truly valuable for its time.

Here’s how to make mud apples:



  1. Build a fire and add lots of wood.
  2. While waiting for the fire to burn down and produce coal, coat each apple in a thick layer of mud. The apples should be covered completely.
  3. Remove the coals from the fire and add the apples. Put back the coals, positioning them so that the apples are buried underneath.
  4. Leave the apples buried under the coals for 45 minutes. The apples are done once the mud has hardened. The mud should be easy to remove. Peel the apples before eating.

5. Cottage cheese

Pasteurization wasn’t a thing during the time of the pioneers. Instead, they relied on natural preservatives like salt and vinegar to keep their milk from spoiling.

But sometimes, the pioneers would allow their milk to go sour and form what is called clabber. This is when sour milk forms globs. Clabber was great for making what we now call cottage cheese.

Follow the steps below to make cottage cheese:

  1. Skim the cream off the clabber and discard.
  2. Pour the milk into a saucepan and cook over low heat until it congeals. Run a knife through the pan to cut the curd into squares.
  3. Remove the curds and rinse gently with cold water.
  4. Wrap the curds in a cheesecloth to wring out excess water.
  5. Crumble the curds into a bowl. Mix with thick cream. Chill before serving.

6. Kid pie

Typically made from young goats, also called kids, the pioneers likely began making kid pies after they settled and started raising goats as livestock.

The recipe for kid pie is fairly simple. Prepare the pie crust as you would with any other pie, then fill it with finely chopped bits of cooked young goat meat.

Cut slits into the pie to make vents. Beat eggs and vinegar together and pour this into the vents. Bake the pie for an hour or until the crust starts to brown. Let cool before serving.

7. Vinegar lemonade

The pioneers faced several threats back then, such as diseases and injuries. So on top of being filling, foods had to be nutritious as well. Consuming nutritious foods and drinks was the pioneers’ best defense against diseases.

Vinegar lemonade is a great immune-boosting drink. Vinegar helps to control cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It also has antimicrobial properties. Meanwhile, lemon is packed with vitamin C, a known immune-boosting nutrient.

To make vinegar lemonade, just mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of raw honey and two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice in a glass. Fill the rest with water.

You can always learn a thing or two from the pioneers. In this case, you just learned seven. Give these recipes a go so you can get a handle on how they’re made.

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