you do your research on edible foods, wild and
planted, you will find that a large amount came
from Pennsylvania Germans, who brought them from
their home lands in Europe from as early as the
1500’s. There is a large variety of preferred
seeds that have made their way from gardens of the
east to the growing beds of the west and
everywhere in between, thanks to our early
merchants and just common people moving to new
homes in the unknown territories have carried
their seeds, dropped on the way by accident or
gardens started, then minds and locations for a
home are changed. Lets take a look at some of the
types and varieties of grains, vegetables, spices
and herbs that found their way across North
America in the westward expansion.
Lewis & Clark mention buckwheat cakes, as do
other colonists in our early history, not sure of
how long it has been in N. America,or if the Pa.
Germans brought it over, like so many other seeds.
Has been grown in the colonies as early as
1560’s, used for linen cloth and a number of
other cloth by products. Ariane Flax seed is
This is a good ground cover crop used by Pa.
Germans for hundreds of years in this country.
Flour is still available in stores today, good for
A form of wheat with a little difference in
texture, was originally from Europe but found its
way to the colonies when settled. Spelt Mills were
popular during the 1800’s in producing flour.
You will probably not be able to find seed that is
suitable for human usage.
In colonial America, old Mexico and parts of
Europe, gourds have been used for a number of
storage vessels. They have been cooked, fried,
boiled or any other way you can think of to be
prepared to be eaten. Dipper and large bottle
gourds are as old as anything we can find today.
A good green that will fill in for cabbage or
cauliflower in ones diet. Russian or Rugged Jack
are good choices that will fit a period menu.
A member of the onion family, used as a vegetable
and will be correct for a early 1830’s meal. We
like the Swiss Coloma Leeks for a green with meat.
A native to Europe they came over with our friends
the Pa. Germans during the migration to the
colonies in the 1700’s. The closest to the
original would be the Risser Early Sugar Pea.
Native to the Americas, there are six types listed
but no longer available with only a close relation
still around, the Fortna White Pumpkin.
From Germany originally this turnip of today is
only 100 years old, not really period as to say,
Originated in South and Central America, they
found their way to Thomas Jefferson’s garden as
early as 1781. Red Brandywine are as close as we
can come to today, as to the originals he grew.
Beans were often planted with corn and squash,
called "Three Sisters" plantings, the
colonists used this Indian method as early as the
1650’s. Fisher, Smith, Hutterite and Jacob’s
Cattle beans are still available. Pole beans;
Hoffer Lazy Wife, Smith and Scarlet Runner beans
have been around since before 1800.
Native to Europe and N. Africa, their first
appearance in N. America is not clear, but
reference has been made of them in journals dating
to the early 1600’s. Deacon Dan or Lutz are a
good choice for the older types.
This mustard family member has been around for
5000 years according to history books. Early
Copenhagen, Early Jersey Wakefield and Red
Drumhead cabbage will put you into the late
Member of the parsley family, came to South and
North America from Europe and Asia, in the form of
animal fodder, with the colonies employment in the
early settlements. The only one that comes close
for period use would be the Early Scarlet Horn
Maize is a native of this country, introduced to
the early colonies by the natives. This was not a
sweet corn as we know it today, more of a field
corn, eaten when still young, it passed as a good
filler in lean times.
herbs are used as medicine, seasonings or just for
decoration, all have been dated earlier than 1800.
Listed in history as an American Indian herb, used
for insect repellent.
A well known pair of herbs, known to provide a
aromatic relief for the nose.
Same as above.
Has some medical uses, licorice taste used on rye
bread by early colonists.
A flavoring for soups, breads, salads, etc. by
native Americans and colonists.
Flavoring or seasoning.
Member of the onion family, used for seasoning in
soups and salads.
Used in teas, candy for sore throat problems.
Licorice flavor used in cooking for seasoning.
Old medical herb, used for colds in soup and
stews.Columbine, elecamane, feverfew, hollyhock,
job’s tear, larkspur, lunaria, thin-leafed
coneflower, these are all decoration plants and
not to be used internally by all means.
Found in history around the mid 1700’s in
southern part of Massachusetts.
American grown, found in Connecticut around 1800
and listed in 1817.
Came to the colonies from Bucks, England, seeds
only brought in 1827.
From Canada originally brought there by seed from
France around 1600.
A New York farm apple grown as early as 1800.
Lancaster County, Pa., medium to large in size,
good for cooking, listed in 1801.
list of grains, vegetables, herbs and apples are
not complete, that would take a book with many
volumes. This was just a list of the more popular
items, listed in a simple way to give the new and
the seasoned re-enactor an idea of the large
amount of available edibles for different time