By  Mike Miller Updated November 20,  2023

If you are surfing the internet while looking for soda cracker recipes or some such, you need to keep surfing. 

This page is about how the early pioneer Florida Crackers used to prepare their meals and some of their descendants still do. 

These Crackers came down from the southern states, many of them just after the Civil War. 

Florida was harsh country back then, and these pioneers learned to live off the land and prepare their food in the simplest possible ways.

Here is a collection of some Florida Cracker recipes.  Some are courtesy of Central Florida Memory (cfmemory.org), others from "Cross Creek Cookery" by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and still others from our website visitors.


Fried Green TomatoesFried Green Tomatoes

4 large green tomatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups vegetable oil

There are actually two kinds of green tomatoes that can be used in this classic Southern delicacy.  The first is tomatoes that are green when ripe.  The second is your regular tomato that hasn't ripened yet.  They are both good in this recipe.

Slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Stir eggs and milk in a bowl.  Scoop flour onto a plate.  Get another plate and put cornmeal, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper on this plate. 

Roll tomato slices around in the flour to coat them.  Then dip the tomatoes into the bowl of eggs and milk. Roll around in bread crumbs to fully coat. 

Pour vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet so there is about 1/2 inch of oil and heat over medium heat.  Place 4 or 5 tomato slices in the skillet.  When tomatoes are browned, flip them and fry the other side. Drain the fried tomatoes with a paper towel.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Combine 1 cup of stone-ground cornmeal with ½ tsp. salt and enough hot water to make a stiff batter. Form one large cake or several small ones about ½ inch thick. Fry in bacon fat or butter until brown, turn, and fry other side until done.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Spam Breakfast HashSpam Breakfast Hash

A Florida Cracker friend invited me to go to his family reunion near Hilliard in Nassau County.  After a fun day of feasting and visiting, we spent the night at his Aunt's house.  In the morning she made us a Spam breakfast.  She said her family used to make this a lot in the final years of the Great Depression.  She had a Spam cook book, believe it or not.

12 ounce can of Spam Classic, diced into cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a cast iron skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat.  Cook onions 3 minutes, then add potatoes and cook 7 to 10 minutes until nicely browned.  Stir in the Spam, red and green peppers, and cook until thoroughly heated and browned.  Add parsley and pepper.  Poached or fried egg optional.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Key Lime PieKey Lime Pie

by Vickie
(St. Petersburg, Florida)

True Floridians who are lucky enough to have their own key lime tree in their yards are raised on this basic, original recipe.

1 Ritz graham cracker pie crust
Brush with butter and bake 5 minutes or so - Rremove from oven and cool. (for family pies make your own crust from ground grahams)
3 eggs - separate
1 14 OZ can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup KEY LIME lime juice (We have a tree, and freeze juice in 1/2 cup containers.

When that isn't an option Publix sells key limes that work, though sometimes they are tart)

Using an electric beater, beat yolks and sweetened condensed milk; add lime juice a little at a time until it is well incorporated, then pour into the cooled pie crust.

Cook about 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven

While pie is cooking beat egg-whites on high adding white sugar to taste - some like the meringue sweeter, others less sweet.

Remove pie from oven and top it with the meringue and return to oven until lightly browned - KEEP YOUR EYES ON THIS PART!


Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Stewed Okra and TomatoesStewed Okra and Tomatoes

Hopkin's Boarding House was a popular lodging and dining place in Florida that opened in 1949 and was in business for more than 50 years.  It is missed by all those who remember it.  The recipe is from the book "Florida's Historic Restaurants" by Dawn O'Brien and Becky Roper Matkov.

2 pounds fresh okra (or 3 10-ounce packages frozen okra)
3 16-ounce cans of chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup bacon drippings
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash, trim and slice the okra.  Combine all the ingredients.  Do not saute'.  Simmer on top of stove in a covered saucepan or skillet, or bake in a 350 degree oven in a tightly covered casserole for 30 to 45 minutes.  Check okra for desired tenderness.  Serves 8-10.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Henry Minneboo with SnookHenry Minneboo with Snook
Snook in a SkilletSnook in a Skillet

My friend Henry Minneboo caught a snook the other day in the Mosquito Lagoon near Oak Hill.  It got to me to thinking about how the early Florida Crackers might have cooked this fish if they were lucky enough to catch it.

Danielle of the website SuwanneeRose.com gave me permission to use her recipe.  Her website has two more snook recipes.

Ingredients for the grits:

  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup stone-ground grits
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions for the grits:

In a medium pot with a lid, bring the water to a boil.  Slowly stir in the grits, salt, and garlic powder.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, put a lid on it, and cook for 3 minutes.  Take off the lid and add the butter. Give it a good stir and scrape what might be stuck to the bottom.  Add the cheese.  Reduce the heat to low and replace the lid.  Turn off the heat after 3 minutes.  Keep the lid on until it’s time to serve it.

Ingredients for the fish:

  • 2 fillets of snook
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • salt and pepper

Directions for the fish:

Pat the fish dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle it with a bit of salt and pepper.  Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high.  Add the ghee.  Fry the fish on one side until it’s opaque on the edges and almost cooked through, about 4-7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Flip the fish and finish cooking for 1-2 minutes.

The grits can be served on a platter with the fish on top or in a separate bowl.   Garnish with a little fresh parsley or dill.  Serve with a plate of sliced tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Boiled Peanuts

5 lb. raw peanuts in shell

5 gallons water, possibly more, depending on size of pot
2 lb. salt

Wash peanuts to remove any dirt.

Make a brine solution of the salt and water.

Add peanuts, making sure there is enough brine solution to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, and boil until peanuts are tender. This will vary from 2 to 4 hours. Check water every 30 minutes or so.

You may need to add water to make sure peanuts remain covered with brine solution. When peanuts are tender, drain, and eat them from the shell.

They are messy, but, boy, are they good. Some folks like spicy boiled peanuts. Just add a few hot peppers or some hot sauce to the pot while peanuts are boiling. 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Corn Pone

1 cup self rising cornmeal
1/4 cup flour
1 egg
4 Tbs. onion chopped fine
Bacon fat or oil for frying
Pinch of Sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste

Mix dry ingredients well.

Add onion, egg that has been beaten, salt and pepper and mix together.

Add enough buttermilk to make a heavy batter. Batter may be divided into several small pones, or formed into one large one.

Fry in bacon fat or oil over medium heat until light brown. Turn and cook until done – about 3 minutes on each side.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Hush PuppiesHush Puppies

1 cup cornmeal
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. baking powder
1 small onion chopped

Mix cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Add onion, a well-beaten egg, and enough water to hold batter together. Shape into small balls and fry in very hot fat or oil until golden brown. Serve hot. 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Fried Gator TailFried Gator Tail

Only the meat from the tail is fit to eat, and it’s tough as shoe leather.

Slice meat into thin (1/4 inch) strips. Pound to tenderize.

Dredge in some cornmeal or flour seasoned with salt and pepper.

Fry in bacon fat or vegetable oil in a hot skillet for about three minutes on each side.

Another way to prepare alligator is to simmer meat for several hours over low heat, together with onions, peppers, tomatoes, a few bay leaves, and a few shots of hot pepper sauce.

The slow cooking helps tenderize the meat and pick up the flavors.

Serve over rice.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Gopher Tortoise Stew Using Pork

Warning:  Gopher Tortoise is a protected species, so you will have to use pork instead.

Meat, about 2 lbs (of not gopher tortoise.)
1/4 lb. salt pork (diced)
Flour seasoned with salt and pepper
6 bay leaves
2 onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 large can tomatoes
Tbs. Datil pepper sauce

Dredge 1” cubes of meat in seasoned flour.

Brown meat in fat rendered from half of the salt pork in a Dutch oven. Set aside.

In a skillet, fry remaining salt pork to render fat.

Add onions and peppers, and fry until soft.

Add about a quart of water to the gopher meat in the Dutch oven, and stir to make gravy.

Add onions and peppers, bay leaves, and pepper sauce, and simmer over low heat for 2 hours.

Taste, adjust seasoning, and serve hot over rice. 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Jugged Rabbit ala Marjorie Kinnan RawlingsJugged Rabbit ala Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

This is the famous  author's recipe from her book "Cross Creek Cookery".

Cut rabbit in pieces.  Place in deep pan and cover with red wine, to which is added one teaspoon whole cloves, one teaspoon allspice, two bay leaves, one teaspoon whole peppercorns.

Let stand in cool place for three days. Drain.  Roll in salted and peppered flour.  Brown in one quarter inch butter.  Cover with hot water and simmer until tender.  More hot water may be necessary.

Remove rabbit.  Stir in one tablespoon flour dissolved in four tablespoons cold water for every cup of gravy. Add one half teaspoon salt, dash of pepper.  Pour over rabbit. 

One rabbit serves four to six. 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Idella's Biscuits ala Marjorie Kinnan RawlingsIdella's Biscuits ala Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Idella Parker was the cook, housekeeper, and friend to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in her Cross Creek, Florida, home.  This recipe is from Marjorie's book "Cross Creek Cookery."

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons Crisco lard or butter
3/4 cup milk

Makes 4 servings.

Mix ingredients real well using a fork.  Roll out once to a thickness of 1/4 inch.  Cut into small rounds 1 inch in diameter.  Bake 12-14 minutes in a very hot oven.  These are so crisp and thin they can usually be eaten with a pad of butter on top without having to split them.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


6 lb. pork spare ribs
1 quart orange juice
2 cups tomato catsup
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
6 cloves garlic (minced)
3 onions (chopped)
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. mustard
1 tsp. Datil pepper sauce

Mix all ingredients except ribs into a sauce. Place ribs on a rack in a pan of water and steam for 45 minutes.

Put sauce in a pan and cook over medium heat until reduced by half.

Remove ribs from pan of water and transfer to grill, or place in a shallow pan in a 350 degree oven. Baste with sauce and cook until tender.

At serving time, top with remaining sauce & garnish with orange slices. 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


5 lb. catfish fillets
Yellow cornmeal
Vegetable oil (peanut oil is best) for frying
1 Tbs. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Salt and pepper fish and bring to room temperature for at least an hour before frying. This will keep the oil from cooling down when fish are added to the fat.

Put oil in a skillet or fryer, enough to completely cover fish, and heat to 375 degrees. Hot oil prevents the fish from becoming “greasy.”

Dredge fish in cornmeal. Shake away any excess, and place in oil, a few at the time. Fry for 4 or 5 minutes. Drain, and serve hot, with hushpuppies and cheese grits.

Mullet can be cooked the same way.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Collard GreensCollard Greens

Wash and remove the stems from a bunch (2 lbs.) of collards. Chop coarsely with kitchen shears.

Put a quarter pound of seasoning meat into one gallon of boiling water and simmer 15 minutes to flavor stock.

Add greens, a few at a time, so that all are blanched, and then simmer over low heat.

Add one small onion (chopped fine), a dash of hot pepper sauce, and salt and black pepper to taste.

Cook over medium heat until onion is soft, about 15 minutes.  

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Fried Okra

1 lb. fresh okra
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
Bacon fat or vegetable oil for frying
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Cut off tips and stems from young pods, and then cut into ½ inch slices, cutting across the pods.

Season cornmeal with salt and pepper. Add okra, a few at the time, to cornmeal, and coat well.

Heat enough bacon fat or vegetable oil in a skillet to a depth of about a half an inch.

Add okra and fry until golden brown, stirring with a wooden spoon, about six to eight minutes. 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Swamp Cabbage Festival, LaBelle, FloridaSwamp Cabbage Festival, LaBelle, Florida

Hearts of palm is available today in grocery stores. In the old days it was called swamp cabbage.

The bud cut from a sabal palm is still called swamp cabbage. Most people would rather look at their palm trees than eat them.

There was a time, however, when swamp cabbage might be the only green vegetable a cracker could put on the table.

It is still served in hunting camps and at Cracker Day celebrations such as the annual Swamp Cabbage Festival in LaBelle.

If cabbage palms are being removed from a construction site, you might be able to cut your own cabbage.

The best ones come from trees that are from eight to twelve feet tall.

Peeling Swamp CabbagePeeling Swamp Cabbage

This recipe comes from Oliver Winn, a fourth generation Floridian. The Winns were pioneers in the early days of Volusia County.

Cut a four-foot section from just below the fronds. Pull away the boots and peel down to the heart. It will be about 3 to 4 inches in diameter, ivory in color, and crisp like fresh stalks of asparagus.

Break heart into bite size chunks and soak in cold water until ready to cook.

Chop some onions. Fry a ½ pound piece of salt pork, cut into small pieces, in a skillet. Add a handful of onions and some butter and cook until onions are soft.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, melt a stick of butter. Add a generous amount of swamp cabbage and a fourth of the onions from your skillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add more cabbage and onions, in the same portion, until pot is half full. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring with a spoon to keep cabbage from burning.

Serve when swamp cabbage is tender. 

Note:  True Florida Crackers will look down their noses at using hearts of palm from a grocery store rather than cutting your own in the wild.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Hoppin' JohnHoppin' John

Eating black-eyed peas first thing on New Year's Day is a southern tradition.  Do this, they say, and you will have good luck all year long.  Hoppin' John is a good way to prepare this good luck holiday treat.

1 lb. fried field peas (black-eyed)
1/2 lb. cured pork or bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup uncooked rice
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 Tbs. bacon fat or butter

Soak peas in enough water to cover overnight.

Rinse well in morning, drain, and place in a pot with water and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, add seasoning meat, pepper sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, cook onions in bacon fat until soft and then add to peas. Cook over low heat for about 30 to 45 minutes. Check water level and add rice, so that there is at least 2 cups of liquid for one cup of rice.

Reduce heat, cover pot until water is absorbed and rice is tender (about 20 minutes). Good Luck! 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Corn on the Cob

When sweet corn comes in, nothing is better than roasting ears. Just pull back the husks, remove silk, secure husks back around the kernels, and soak in water for an hour.

Just before cooking, peel back husks, salt and pepper to taste. Secure husks with a bit of string, and add to the coals or place on the grill.

The corn will steam and the kernels will melt in your mouth. Cooking time will depend on heat of the fire, usually about 10 minutes. 

The Zellwood Corn Festival in Central Florida had this art mastered in the old days, but now most of the area's corn farms are gone.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


2 sweet potatoes or 2 cups canned
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tbs. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using canned sweet potatoes, drain and mash. If using raw potatoes, peel, boil until tender, and then drain and mash until smooth. Combine all ingredients, stir together and mix well. Place in a greased baking dish. Bake for 1½ hours. 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Watermelon BowlWatermelon Bowl

Pick a ripe melon. Cut it in half. Scoop out the melon balls with a spoon or melon-baller. Scrape out shell. Combine melon balls with a cup of sugar syrup (see recipe for Sour Orange Drink) and a cup of sour orange or lime juice.

Refrigerate for several hours.

Return melon to shell and garnish with mint and citrus fruit slices. For a more colorful presentation at a party, add honeydew melon, cantaloupe, pineapple, and other tropical fruit. 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Sour Orange Drink

The Spanish brought Seville oranges to Florida, planting them in St. Augustine as soon as they arrived. Within a few years they escaped into the surrounding forest.

This tart flavored citrus, called sour oranges by many, spread throughout Florida where both natives and Crackers took to them with a relish. Wild oranges make a great beverage.

1 cup sour orange juice
¼ cup sugar syrup
2 cups water

Combine everything, mix well, and serve over ice. To make sugar syrup, combine equal amounts of water and sugar and heat until dissolved. 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


3 sour or Seville oranges
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups tomato catsup
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup orange blossom or palmetto honey
3 Tbs. Worcestershire sause
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Grate zest (skin) from oranges and set aside. Squeeze juice and set aside.

Cook onions over low heat in oil until soft. Add zest and garlic, and cook another couple of minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Immediately reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

For best results, marinate chicken, fish, or meat in sauce for several hours before cooking. At cooking time drain marinade and place food on grill. Baste with sauce occasionally.

Additional sauce may be added at serving time. 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


A Florida Cracker never wasted anything, especially a watermelon. Not many folks make pickles anymore. This recipe is worth the trouble. 

Watermelon rind
4 cups vinegar
8 pounds sugar
4 Tbs. whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks

Cut off green skin and scrape away any of the pink flesh left on the inside of the rind.

Cut rind into 1 ½ inch cubes and rinse in water.

Soak melon cubes in a cup of salt and enough water to cover for 10 to 12 hours. Pour off water.

Dissolve sugar in vinegar and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Add cinnamon and cloves and simmer until mixture becomes syrup, about 2 hours.

Add watermelon cubes and simmer for an hour. Fill sterilized jars and seal.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Southern Fried MulletSouthern Fried Mullet

Niceville, Florida is in the panhandle and has a annual mullet festival.  They really know how to cook their mullet in that part of Florida.  Here's one of the recipes from their website:

Fresh Mullet fillets
Corn Meal
Peanut Oil

Wash cleaned fish, which should be butterflied or filleted.  Salt and pepper generously.  Roll in corn meal.

Fry in deep, hot peanut oil (350 degrees) for 3 to 5 minutes, turning if necessary or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Fish will be golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.

Fish Fry Pointers:

Use a large, deep pan to avoid crowding fish.  Turn fish once when crisp and golden.  For fillets, brown skin side last.  After frying, drain fish immediately on paper towels to remove fat.

This recipe & more from: http://mulletfestival.com/mullet-recipes-how-to-cook-mullet/

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


This recipe is from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings book "Cross Creek Cookery". She called it Mrs. Chance's Spanish Bean Soup. The following words are paraphrased from Marjorie:

"I associate soup with either poverty or formal elegance. The poor make a meal of it. The elegant dabble in it, beginning a long dinner of main courses with a cup or plate of it, aggravatingly small if the soup be good.

One small serving of a ravishing soup is infuriating. It is like seeing the Pearly Gates swing shut in one’s face after one brief glimpse of Heaven.

As happy a gustatory experience as can come to mortal man, is to sit down in one of the Cuban restaurants in Tampa and eat all one can hold of Spanish bean soup…...with hot crusty chunks of Cuban bread that you eat “as long as you have strength to break and butter them…”

Fortunately, Cubans are generous folk, and I have been able to bring home to the Creek backwoods the recipes for these hearty and delicious soups. Those of the Mayor’s wife are the best in Tampa."

1 pound Spanish beans
½ tsp soda
2 pound ham hock
4 large onions
4 buttons garlic
½ bell pepper
4 Spanish sausages
4 pig’s feet (fresh)
4 medium-sized potatoes
1 small head cabbage
½ tsp saffron (or about 10 cents worth)
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves

Add soda to water and soak beans overnight. Wash beans well the next morning. Cover ham hock well with cold water, add beans and start cooking slowly. Cut up onions, garlic, bell pepper, and in about twenty minutes add to soup together with bay leaves and saffron.

Cut sausages in pieces of four each and add to soup. Cut pig’s feet in half, lengthwise, and cook separately until tender; then add to soup and cook slowly. Cut up potatoes and add to soup, and when beans are about done, cut up cabbage as for slaw and add to soup.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Be sure to cook slowly always. More water may be needed at end, but soup is supposed to be very thick.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Campfire BreakfastCampfire Breakfast

Many Florida crackers were cowboys, or as they called them back then, "cow hunters'.

Sometimes they'd be out on the range for days or weeks rounding up cattle, branding them, and getting ready to drive them across the state to Punta Rassa and other cattle exporting ports.

Here might be a typical breakfast they cooked over the campfire early in the morning.

1/2 lb. bacon slices
2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 dozen eggs, beaten together
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Make sure the flames are down in the campfire and that there are nice hot coals. In a cast iron skillet, cook the bacon until it's crispy. Set the bacon strips aside.

Put the diced potatoes into the skillet, stir and cook in the hot bacon fat until the potatoes are soft. Then break the bacon slices into the skillet on top of the potatoes. Stir in the beaten eggs.

Cover the skillet and cook until the eggs are set up. Usually takes 2 or 3 minutes.

Take the cover off and sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top until it melts.

Serve and enjoy. Adjust quantities up or down depending on the number of cowboys.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index

NOTE:  The recipes above came from several sources, including a PDF file from Central Florida Memory.  Many of them are from B. Raynor and C. Raynor on tasteofstaugustine.com.  Some are from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's classic "Cross Creek Cookery." Others are from website visitors who use the form below to submit recipes.

Here are some recipes submitted by our visitors:


by Jay Bullington
(Williamsburg, VA)

My mother used to take me to the beach (Lido or Siesta Beach in Sarasota, FL) to collect coquinas. We would collect about a pound or so - take them home and put them in a small pot of water and boil until they all opened up. After a few minutes of cooking that way, we'd strain out the coquinas to get rid of the shells and the little dab of meat left in each one ... and ... enjoy the broth. I can still taste it today (some 60 years since I have had any). Anyone have a good recipe for the same??

Editor says: this sounds great. We used to gather little sand crabs (also known as sand fleas) at the beach and prepare a broth just like you describe.  

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


by Dale Dietzman
(North Lauderdale FL)

My Grandmother made the BEST summer drink from Calamondins out of the tree in our yard. Squeezed enough of the little things to get the juice, then made it just as you would lemonade or limeade.

Taste is totally unique and cuts a summer thirst like you wouldn't believe. BTW, if you can get it, use Calamondin juice anywhere you would use either lemon or lime juice (it's just as sour!) and get a unique different result.

Love it squeezed over broiled fish for example. 

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


Recipe from Shirley Bailey

For all of y'all struggling and looking for frugal foods or just wanting some good eats.

Grits are cheaper than potatoes, rice, beans or pasta.


Add 1 cup grits to 4 cups water.
Cook on slow simmer.
Stir often to avoid lumps.
Add salt, pepper, and butter.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


by Kathleen Murphy Hughes Wendelken
(Clyo, GA, USA)

As a child, my Mama, Daddy, and I would camp on the Gulf coast near Punta Gorda. There was nothing but the Phosphate Dock at that point. Camping on the beach was legal.

We used the same basic recipe as your sand flea chowder, but with coquinas,the pretty little colorful shells that burrow in the sand. Mama would wash, boil, and use the broth and bits of meat to make a delicious chowder.

I was born in 1952, born and raised in Florida.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


by Jay Bullington
(Williamsburg, VA)

My mother used to take me to the beach (Lido or Siesta Beach in Sarasota, FL) to collect coquinas. We would collect about a pound or so - take them home and put them in a small pot of water and boil until they all opened up. After a few minutes of cooking that way, we'd strain out the coquinas to get rid of the shells and the little dab of meat left in each one ... and ... enjoy the broth. I can still taste it today (some 60 years since I have had any). Anyone have a good recipe for the same??

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


by Arlette Fontaine Miller
(Albuquerque, NM)

This was handed down to me by my mother, the late Eddie May Fontaine. She made a tasty guava shell pie! We grew our own guavas in the Redlands.

But this recipe is from Florida Keys Cooking, published in 1946 by Patricia Antman.

3 ground up conchs
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
1 sweet pepper
1 can tomato sauce
1 lb potatoes

Cover conch meat with water and let them boil about one half hour. Cut up onion and add to conch with garlic, sweet pepper and tomato sauce. Dice potatoes and add to chowder, adding 3 more cups of water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until potatoes are cooked.

Editor says: Arlette, thanks so much for this recipe. I love conch chowder, and used to be able to find conch whenever I wanted in my local Florida grocery stores. Not so much anymore, but when I see some I buy it. Good recipe, I will try it next time I have that conch craving.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


by Kelley
(Salt Lake City UT)

My grandfather from White City, Florida, fed his family of 8 on fish and swamp cabbage.

Bluefish fillet topped with mayonnaise cooked under the broiler was a staple.

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


by Lynne Skinner
(St. Petersburg, Florida )

I was raised in Florida. When I was little my Mom and Granny would go over to Lakeland to pick poke salad. I remember well my Granny parboiling it until she was happy with it, then she would put it in a cast iron skillet with eggs and bacon and cook until done. It was so good.


Feb 12, 2020
about Poke Sallet
by: Benny

Pokeweed can be found throughout the majority of the Continental United States but is far more prevalent in the central and eastern states of the South. It is a poisonous weed, related to nightshade, but if prepared for consumption correctly, it is actually considered a delicacy by many denizens of the rural United States.

In fact, in its cooked form, pokeweed is so popular that many states, especially those in the South, hold yearly festivals in the early spring to commemorate it.

The cooked version of this weed is properly referred to as "poke sallet," but like with so many traditions that have survived via word of mouth, the pronunciation can often be found altered, most commonly to "poke salad." You might also see it spelled "polk salad" or "polk sallet." The "polk" spelling was popularized by a 1968 country/pop song by Tony Joe White called "Polk Salad Annie."

The term "sallet" is of French origin and refers to a mess of greens cooked until tender. For example, cooked spinach could be referred to as a sallet, but raw spinach would be called a salad. This distinction is important for reasons that will be elaborated upon later.

Pokeweed should never be eaten raw.

Editor says: Benny, thanks for this information. Very interesting.

Nov 28, 2019
Two Waters

by: Anonymous

My Granny always said "boil it in two waters". Just young shoots, boil and throw out to first water and boil again with new water. I never died.Nov 27, 2019
by: Anonymous

Please note that poke can be toxic if picked after it's "taller than 8 inches"....

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index


by Anonymous

My family (great-great grandfather and around six children) came from Eufala, Alabama directly after the end of the Civil War. They settled near Tampa I think. Fort White was the name of the little town.

He built a little hotel near the railroad. Later his son and wife (my great grandparents) were forced to move further south and pioneer some land on an island off Marco Island. They built a home and had a large garden.

My great grandfather hunted alligators for their hides and birds for their feathers to make ends meet for his family of 8. My great grandmother lived to be 93 she and her two daughters - my grandmother and her sister - were all good cooks.

Most of the recipes above I am familiar with. I am thrilled to get the one for watermelon rind pickles! I was surprised not to find a recipe for fried bananas listed. I thought you might enjoy adding it to the collection. It’s simple and soooo good served with bacon and hot buttered toast on the side:

Here's how you make Fried Bananas:

For about 6 helpings use around 8 normal size bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise in long thin strips. Add these to a frying pan of sizzling butter, sprinkle the bananas lightly with granulated sugar and cinnamon. Cook over medium heat turning and chopping until they are soft and candied but still with plenty of juices...if more sugar is needed to start a candy-like syrup, add a little at a time. Make sure to serve piping hot with hot toast all buttered and ready...these go fast!

Return to Florida Cracker Recipe Index

More About the Florida Cracker Culture and Cuisine



Our Facebook page has more than 130,000 followers who love off the beaten path Florida: towns, tourist attractions, maps, lodging, food, festivals, scenic road trips, day trips, history, culture, nostalgia, and more.  We post articles every day.  Please check it out and if you like it, we would appreciate a "like" from you.