The holiday season is a time for everyone to gather together and have fun with each other. One of the most common ways everyone celebrates is with food! But what did families during wartime rationing do? What were the recipes they made? Keep reading to learn some of the coolest (and maybe weirdest) recipes from WWII.
Behind the Common and Strange Recipes From WWII
WWII was one of the world’s darkest times. Millions of people across the world died, and those who didn’t faced a lifetime of emotional damage from the war. Everyone had to make sacrifices during WWII, and one thing that everyone had to sacrifice was food. Rationing was a common practice during WWII, but what was rationed, and how did it impact common recipes at the time?
What Was Rationed
Food wasn’t the only thing that was rationed. Starting in 1942, just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. started rationing tires. Certain groups of people were allowed to buy new tires, like farmers or fire and police personnel, but the average citizen had to start patching their tires or have the treads replaced. Personal automobiles were rationed next; auto manufacturers started shifting gears to make parts for tanks, ambulances, and jeeps. Gasoline was also rationed during that time.
Food rationing began in May 1842. The first food item to be rationed was sugar, a very common ingredient in many recipes. After sugar rationing came coffee rationing, and then meats and fats. Cheese, milk, and canned fish were added soon after. Americans were urged to grow and can their own food so more produce and canned foods could be sent to the troops overseas.
During this time, boxed macaroni and cheese became a sensation throughout the United States because of how cheap it was, and it wasn’t highly rationed.
WWII Rationing Recipes
Due to the WWII ration, recipes were typically incredibly healthy. With meat, sugar, and cheese being rationed, the WWII recipes had to compensate for that loss. Foods like potatoes and vegetables were commonly used during WWII. But many people found ways to make “substitutes” for their favorite foods, like sausage or maple syrup. Some of the “weirdness” with the rationing comes into play with these mock recipes.
Mock Recipes From WWII
Many people found ways to make “mock” food items, such as sausage or maple syrup. One of the World War 2 recipes for mock sausage consisted of lima beans and seasonings. The lima beans were soaked overnight and then boiled, drained, and mashed.
The typical seasonings were added, like salt and pepper, but sage, thyme, and marjoram were also recommended. The mashed lima beans were then formed into finger-sized cylinders, rolled in flour, and fried in oil.
Mock maple syrup was made by adding sugar to boiling water and then allowing the mixture to form a thin syrup.
Mock brains were also a thing during WWII. Apparently, enough people ate brains before WWII that they missed them during the war, so this mock WWII ration recipe was created. It consisted of leftover porridge, some flour, onion, and some seasonings. Does this change how you look at porridge? It does for us!
For all the Brits out there reading this (or all the British food lovers), there’s even a WWII recipe for mock black pudding! Instead of blood sausage being used in the black pudding, a sausage-type log was created using oats and broth. The fake sausage log was then chilled, cut, and fried until crispy around the edges. These recipes from WWII are pretty ingenious!
Potatoes for Everyone!
Potato dishes were also fairly common in recipes from WWII. Amongst all the other WWII recipes, there were hundreds of potato dishes that were common.
Some of the tastiest-looking, but also simplest, potato dishes are potato floddies and potato piglets. The potato floddies were made by grating potatoes, mixing some flour and seasonings in with them, forming them into little pancake shapes, and then frying them. This would be a great substitute for something like regular pancakes in the morning!
The potato piglets were made with six potatoes and six sausages. This was a great recipe for children, and when served with a side dish like a salad, it was very filling!
Another potato recipe was also used as a cheese substitute. Potato rarebit was used to replace what’s called “Welsh rarebit.” Welsh rarebit is essentially a version of cheese on toast. Bread was toasted, and then a seasoned cheese sauce was placed on top of it. However, with cheese being rationed during WWII, potatoes were used as the primary sauce component, with just a small amount of cheese added to it.
Some of these recipes from WWII can definitely be added to your list of recipes to try! With foods like sugar, cheese, milk, and meat being rationed, these WWII recipes are sometimes healthy and definitely filling. Though some of them may seem weird, like lima bean sausage or porridge brains, it might be worth a shot!
Image: The 1940’s Experiment