Along the garden fence

By Bob Wood. Today’s topic is the garden fence and the narrow garden beds that lay close along the fences of the early kitchen gardens. The “PA Dutch” dialect was wholly unwritten, and what bits of information we have such as day books and journal accounts were written in German by men; while the garden,Continue reading “Along the garden fence”

Wooden Water Pumps

By Scott Houting. Title image: Water pump at Peter Wentz Farmstead, Worcester, PA. Visitors to the Peter Wentz Farmstead will occasionally ask the simple question, “How did the families living in the house get their water for everyday chores and drinking?” The simple answer is, of course, from a well dug outside the house. However,Continue reading “Wooden Water Pumps”


By Sarah Heffner. Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent – the season of sacrifice and reflection that culminates with Easter Sunday. Shrove Tuesday, or “fat Tuesday”, has its roots in ancient European Christian history and is a day when cooks use up their cooking fat and rich foods beforeContinue reading “Fastnachts”

Hearth cooking, then and now

By Bob Wood. For 200 years following settlement, food production was the basic industry of the Goschenhoppen Region. Feeding first their family and hired help, self-sustaining farmers produced enough surplus food to provide for the cities and towns of Southeastern Pennsylvania and beyond. Until about the era of the Civil War (1861-1865) it’s safe toContinue reading “Hearth cooking, then and now”

History of the Christmas Putz

By Candace Perry. Here at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center we casually talk about the Christmas putz, mentioning it to visitors (“The putz is on the first floor”) and perhaps oblivious to whether they know what it is. It’s a term we take for granted here, but it definitely requires explanation to many outsiders.Continue reading “History of the Christmas Putz”


By Alan Keyser. Sauerkraut was one of the basic fermented foods prepared from a preserved vegetable. James Mease found, “In Pennsylvania it is a very fashionable dish among the Germans, and when prepared with neatness, is highly palatable, especially when eaten with salt pork.” (Don Yoder, “The Domestic Encyclopaedia of James Mease, M.D. 1804,” PennsylvaniaContinue reading “Sauerkraut”

Potatoes: The Dutchman’s Caviar

By Bob Wood. Title photo: Long rows of potatoes on the Wallace Moyer farm, Blooming Glen, Bucks County, 1931. Mennonite Heritage Center Collection. It seems that in the old days the Dutchmen lived on pork, cornmeal, and potatoes, with sometimes all three in the same recipe. In the folk-culture, the omnipresent potato was, and stillContinue reading “Potatoes: The Dutchman’s Caviar”

Modern Mending, Frugal Fashion

By Elizabeth Norris. Mending. A chore practically none of us do, or want to do, anymore. The thought of mending a piece of clothing conjures images of “little old ladies” sitting for hours, fixing holes in socks, worn knees and seats of pants. Maybe they’re sitting by firelight, kerosene lamp, or even candlelight, humming forgottenContinue reading “Modern Mending, Frugal Fashion”


By Candace Perry. When you consider the Pennsylvania Dutch as a people, some qualities readily come to mind: industriousness, practicality, and self-sufficiency. The one trait, however, that most often is attributed to them is thriftiness. From architecture to furnishings, to clothing, and of course, food, the Pennsylvania Dutch found frugal solutions to their daily challenges.Continue reading “Thrifty”

A Bowl of Cherries

By Diane Hollister. Photos from Goschenhoppen Historians Pennsylvania Dutch Foodways Project, 2008 (unless otherwise noted). I don’t know about you, but in the middle of cold weather, I’m often thinking of warm summer days, my flowerbeds, my gardens, and being outdoors. I drool over garden catalogs and treasure my canned and frozen goodies. But there’sContinue reading “A Bowl of Cherries”

Homemade Ice Cream

Introduction by Candace Perry. Title image: 18th-century ice cream demonstration at the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival. The story of ice cream has been told and retold countless times, and is one of a storied lineage of exotic locales and crowned heads of Europe and our own Founding Fathers. Not long after its arrival on American shores,Continue reading “Homemade Ice Cream”

Spring in the Antes Garden

By Bill Daley. Title image: The Kitchen Garden at the Goschenhoppen Historians’ Antes House, Perkiomenville, PA These observations are from 2016:Once again this year has exhibited some strange weather. Generally speaking this past winter was a mild one but after a very early start Spring took a U-turn and produced a number of killing frostsContinue reading “Spring in the Antes Garden”

Pie, Glorious Pie

By Alice Wolfgang. Pie was, and still is, an important part of PA Dutch life and there is much to say about pies. Today we’ll take a look at some of the vast variety of pies, some familiar and some more unusual, that were developed in this region. Pies originated in Europe and the EnglishContinue reading “Pie, Glorious Pie”

Homemade Soap

Introduction by Sarah Heffner. Pennsylvania Germans made no frills “homemade soap” from old fat, water and lye. In the 1960s, my mother, Laura Wolfgang, would make batches of homemade soap for home use and for relief packages for Mennonite Central Committee. (Commercially produced soap is now added to relief aid.) Ladies at church would saveContinue reading “Homemade Soap”

Heirloom Vegetables

By Joanne Ranck-Dirks. Title photo: Deer Tongue Lettuce at Landis Valley. All photos courtesy of Landis Valley Museum, Lancaster, PA. How is your garden planning coming along this spring? Did you remember to plant Grandma Hershey’s Sugar Peas and is there space for Deacon Dan Beets? Is this the year to plant Fisher Beans orContinue reading “Heirloom Vegetables”

The Last Jar of Chow-Chow

By Diane Hollister. Remember the shelves of jars going down into your grandma’s basement? The old glass jars with zinc lids that were filled with fruits and vegetables and maybe even some canned meats? The ones that sometimes eluded you and turned up in dusty musty corners years later, forgotten? Those jars may not seemContinue reading “The Last Jar of Chow-Chow”

Gardens and Gardening among the Pennsylvania Germans (Part 1)

By Alan G. Keyser. Title image: The Pennsylvania German garden at the Goschenhoppen Historians’ 1736 Henry Antes House, Perkiomenville, PA. A Pennsylvania German garden is not the elaborate pleasure garden so often described in the histories of gardening, but a farm kitchen garden containing vegetables, culinary herbs, flowers, and medicinal plants. It was in someContinue reading “Gardens and Gardening among the Pennsylvania Germans (Part 1)”

Spring Tonic

By Sarah Heffner. Dandelion greens are a traditional fresh “spring tonic” that were welcome after a winter diet of root vegetables from the cold cellar and canned goods from the shelves in the basement. The greens are high in nutrients, even more than kale and broccoli. They are somewhat of an acquired taste but manyContinue reading “Spring Tonic”

Potato Filling

By Sarah Heffner. Potatoes have been a staple in Pa Dutch cooking since the early 19th century. Potatoes originated in Peru, went to Europe via Spanish conquistadors, and were slowly adopted by Europeans. Potatoes then traveled to America with Irish immigrants and gradually made their way into Pennsylvania agriculture in the late 18th century. AnContinue reading “Potato Filling”

Happy Almost Easter!

By Diane Hollister. So, like many of us, you are trapped in your house. You might find yourself not only a bit stir crazy but also missing some ingredients when you plan things. The other day, I was thinking about that. Our ancestors did without things…for example, you can find cake recipes that don’t useContinue reading “Happy Almost Easter!”


Get new content delivered to your inbox.