Joyce White, food historian, A Taste of History with Joyce White.

Maryland Eats: Eastern Shore White Potato Pie

07/29/2020
By Waxter Intern

From spicy to sweet, Maryland food has it all. The origins of the White Potato Pie are murky, with some recipes noting that it was a poor man’s dessert, created by those who could not afford high-class ingredients. Joyce White, a culinary historian, and consultant who has worked with Riversdale and guest-curated for the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, suspects this pie has its origins in Maryland’s agricultural history.

Tobacco was the dominant crop in the region, but growing the plant in the same plot of land year after year depletes the nutrients in the soil, so proper crop rotation was key. Maryland became known for growing corn, soybeans, potatoes, and wheat, among other things. In the years where the potato crop was abundant, Marylanders looked for ways to ensure it didn’t go to waste, and thus, the white potato pie was born.

According to White, most recipes for this sweet treat are simple and resemble those for sweet potato and even pumpkin pie. They involve mashed potatoes, eggs, sugar, lemon, nutmeg, and vanilla. White notes that this pie would have been easy to make and transport, and could withstand summer heat after a summer potato harvest.

White potato pie by Joyce White, A Taste of History with Joyce White.

White potato pie by Joyce White, A Taste of History with Joyce White.

Eastern Shore White Potato Pie

Potato pies date to at least the seventeenth-century and were frequently made from white or sweet potatoes and contained many ingredients we use in pies today, like sugar, raisins, spices, eggs, and butter. While sweet potato pie is most commonly baked, there is a long tradition of white potato pie in Maryland. Here is a recipe for sweet Eastern Shore White Potato Pie via Joyce White:

Combine potatoes, cream, eggs, and sugar. Beat at a high speed until well blended. Add flavorings and spices. Pour into two 9” prepared pastry shells. Bake 1 hour or until silver knife inserted in center comes out clean.

MORE RECIPES FROM JOYCE WHITE

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Waxter Intern

A legacy gift from William D. Waxter, III established the Waxter Memorial Internship to help Preservation Maryland support the next generation in historic preservation.

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