When I think of Colonial America, I think of a young country full of opposites. America was still a rugged frontier though it had its elegant, refined side too. Bustling cities and harbors and ports brought in trade as the frontiersman lived on the edge of the wilderness. America was a non-land until Great Britian officially recognized the first thirteen colonies as a country of its own in 1783.
The food of this young country largely depended on the people who had come there. Food was often inspired by the European background of the colonists. If you lived in the thirteen English colonies, you might find English foods perhaps with a French touch as French cuisine was popular at the time. The Spanish and Dutch colonists brought their own cuisines. But the colonists still had to find a way to use the unique offerings of America. They had to learn what would grow in this new country and often the Native Americans were a resource.
Hearth or fireside cooking was the main way of preparing meals in Colonial America. Farming and gardening were the ways that the colonists could provide for themselves. In a colonial American kitchen, you would often find such foodstuffs as oats, wheat, rice, corn, pumpkin, beans and many kinds of herbs and fresh vegetables. Depending on where you lived in the colonies, you might enjoy seafood in the New Engand colonies, wild game on the frontier or rice and fresh tropical fruits in the Southern colonies. The colonists preserved their bounty by pickling, drying and smoking. They made fruits into jams, syrups and preserves. Colonists used cast iron, pottery, pewter, tin and wood most often for their cooking ware.
Colonial Americans and their kitchens faced a unique challenge with the War of Independence. The taxation around tea is the most well know foodstuff that found itself banned in patriotic Colonial kitchens. But the war also brought shortages in such foods as salt and grain too.