826NYC Post
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826NYC Post

Food Trends of the 1860s

By Jayden Geiger-Vanias

Soldiers and civilians in the North and South are eating in different ways in the 1860s. Some farmers grow potatoes, corn, vegetables, and melons, some of which they likely sold in the bustling markets of Manhattan. Meanwhile, in the Civil War the soldiers ate a piece of meat and potatoes, a chunk of bread and a cup of coffee with a spoonful of brown sugar or salt pork. Because of the food shortage in the South, it helped them lose the war.

Here is a recipe for lamb stew that was popular in the Northeast:

One pound of sausages cut in pieces, with four pounds of potatoes, and a few onions, if they are liked, with about a tablespoonful of flour mixed in a pint of water and added to the dish, will make a sufficient dinner for five or six persons. The potatoes must be cut in slices, and stewed with the sausages until tender. Or you may use a pound and half of meat (mutton is best) instead of the sausages. Season with pepper, salt and sage or thyme.


About this piece:

During the Fall 2021 semester, 826NYC’s journalism class, Write All About It, dug deep into our local Brooklyn history with support from historians at the Center for Brooklyn History and the New-York Historical Society, alongside independent research. In emulation of one of the first Black-owned newspapers in the country, The Freedman’s Torchlight — which was published in the town of Weeksville, now part of Crown Heights, in the 1860s — students wrote about the news and culture of 1860s Brooklyn in this time-hop special edition of The 826NYC Post.



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