Canned Salmon and Turnip Kraut: Making Ends Meet During the Depression Era

Missouri woman talks about how families during the depression era survived with scarce food; she describes using canned salmon, canned corn, turnip kraut, and cornbread

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During the depression era, our diet got monotonous, but we were never as bad as some we knew. People with lots of turnips and not much else tried fixing them every way, even turnip kraut.

We bought no meat except canned salmon. It could be fixed so many ways to stretch for ten. We ate it made into soup made with milk, or made into fish cakes, and my sis made lots of it into a baked escalloped salmon dish. We also bought canned corn and it was made into soup with crackers. We churned our own butter and I often took a turn at cranking the old daisy churn. We had biscuits every morning, and took them as sandwiches in our school lunches at first. No one used bakery bread then. We ate cornbread or whole wheat bread baked like cornbread, often the grains were taken to the mill at town for the cornmeal and graham flour. If we ran out of it mother baked white flour "batter bread" for supper. It was cut out like cornbread, too, what is called "spoon bread" in the south.

Jewell Cooper
Bolivar, Missouri


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.