New England Foods: The Legacy
New England had a rich legacy of cultivating the land and the ocean to create its foods. With a history rooted in European and Native American influence, many of the foods have been made for 1000’s of years. New England locals still relish in these foods, and visitors can enjoy them in restaurants and at local farms alike. Here’s a look at six New England classics.
Sea food is always at the top of any list about New England foods. Lobster shacks and oyster houses dot the coast for those wanting to eat with their hands. Portland, Maine is renowned for its gourmet chefs, and Boston, Massachusetts is home to the oldest operating restaurant in the U.S., the Union Oyster House. Clam chowder is another New England original
that was adopted from Native Americans by the early settlers.
2. Boston Baked Beans
Baked beans were a staple in New England logging camps where they were served at every meal. Cooks would build a fire in a stone-lined pit and then allow it to burn down to hot coals. Then a pot with seasoned beans would be placed in the ashes and allowed to cook overnight. In Boston, beans that were baked in molasses became commonplace because the city had so much molasses available.
3. Maple Syrup
Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S and was the first state to establish a ‘maple law’ governing quality, purity and density. The syrup is made from sap that runs from maple trees every spring. Maple syrup is a favorite ingredient in candies, cookies and as a natural sweetener in baked beans and stews. The sap was first boiled down to sugar by the Native Americans and settlers quickly took up the practice, making maple sugar in iron kettles over the fire because white sugar was not readily available.
4. Ice Cream
New England has many local ice cream shops and commercial projects. Ben & Jerry’s is made in New England with its headquarters in Vermont where visitors can see how the ice cream is made. Kimball Farms, located in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, is known for its huge portions and homemade flavors. Hayward’s Ice Cream has been scooping up ice cream in New Hampshire for 70 years and offers more flavors than you could ever want.
The cranberry is one of the three North American native fruits that is commercially grown. Native Americans used the cranberry as a food, fabric dye and a healing agent. European settlers adopted the cranberry for its many uses and found that it was a valuable bartering tool. The name cranberry comes from the piligrim name for the fruit, “craneberry,” which they named the fruit because of the plant’s pink blossoms that resembled a crane. Cultivation began in 1816 in Massachusetts and is still an important crop in New England today.
Cheese in New England has its roots in a 4,000-year-old tradition. Cheesemakers combine the old European traditions the early settlers brought with them from England with modern science and the incredible grassland to produce some of the best cheddar and artisanal cheese in the U.S. Most of these cheesemakers are small local farms and cheese companies, and recently a new interest in artisanal cheesemaking has spurred an increase in farmhouse cheese making.
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