Shaker Lemon Pie - Gastro Obscura


Shaker Lemon Pie

In this tangy treat, no part of the citrus is left behind.

The Shakers, an 18th-century Protestant sect founded in England, wasted nothing. Members were taught to “Shaker your plate,” or finish every last crumb. Made from whole lemons, rinds and all, Shaker lemon pie is a perfect example of just how frugal and resourceful their cooking gets.

When early American Shakers settled in Ohio, they grew and raised almost everything they consumed. One crop they couldn’t grow? Lemons. As such, they purchased or traded for the fruit, and cooks stretched the valued ingredient as far as possible. Sometime in the 19th century, they first developed the tangy pie filling using nothing but paper-thin slices of lemon, eggs, and sugar.

Home bakers still make the pie today. Tasters describe modern renditions as having a sweet, tangy filling and buttery, crisp crust. Bakers still use every part of the lemon, but there’s nothing miserly about the flavor.

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