Saltine crackers are the prime ingredient in a classic old-fashioned dessert called mock apple pie. No apples are in this dish, but because of the spices that are used, it seems similar to an apple pie. Historians date this pie to the early days of the American pioneers, when apples were in short supply. Crafty settler women stumbled into a recipe that embodied the spirit of an apple pie when the red, green and yellow orbs weren't available. Today, clever cooks follow their lead when their own pantries come up short.
Line a pie pan with one of the crusts. You can make your own, but frozen pie pastries from the grocery store work well too.
Break crackers with your hands or by rolling them between two sheets of wax paper with a rolling pin. Crumble the saltines into bite-sized pieces and then sprinkle them on top of the pie crust.
Combine the sugar, cream of tartar and all of the spices over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring well. Lower the heat, and then cook until the candy thermometer registers 236 degrees Fahrenheit, also known as the soft ball stage.
Remove the sugar mixture from the heat and add the lemon juice and peel. Pour everything over the crackers in the pie shell. Dot butter over the top and cover the entire pie with the second crust. Seal the two crusts together and flute the edges if you desire.
Bake the mock apple pie at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and a sprig of fresh mint.