Food is one of the methods of celebration among the Amish. Sharing a meal or a snack is a great way to fellowship.
Drop in to visit an Amish family and they'll quickly invite you to share some popcorn and ice cream. It might be pretzels or chips. One always has to have something salty with ice cream. It's really special if it's hand cranked.
Share a meal and you won't go away hungry. If you do it's usually your fault. The foods are rich and tasty. Many of the vegetables are grown in their gardens. It helps to have your own produce when you have lots of kids. Meat often comes from the animals they butcher on the farm. It's a community tradition to butcher together, especially when doing a hog. Often they can their meat to preserve it since they don't have large freezers or refrigerators.
Most meals are topped off with desserts. They can range from a layered jello dessert to cake to ice cream to homemade pies. The sweet tooth reigns in Amish communities. Many of the recipes that are a hit with the visitors are improved by the addition of sugar while they are being made.
An Amish meal is usually served with water to drink. If you're from a different culture you may be used to having a variety of things to drink with your meal from ice tea to milk to coffee. Its water for the Amish. But don't forget to have a cup of coffee after dessert while you sit around to chat. Meadow tea is also a favorite. The mint is picked from the garden and boiled to bring out the flavor. Then water is added to weaken the brew and it makes a great refresher for the afternoon.
There are several foods that originate or have found their home in the Amish communities. One of the favorites is the peanut butter spread found in many local restaurants. It's made of peanut butter and marshmallow spread. Another is apple butter. Its eaten on the freshly baked bread or spread on cottage cheese for a treat. Try scrapple some time with apple butter for another traditional favorite.
If you're not from this area or another Amish community you might think that cheese is the orange plastic stuff individually wrapped that you find in your supermarket. Not here! There are so many cheese houses and varieties of cheese. One of the cheeses originating here is Baby Swiss Cheese. In case you haven't heard yet, it was made to go together with Trail Bologna, made in Trail between Walnut Creek and Winesburg.
Food and fund raisers go together in Amish communities. Money is raised for someone facing medical expenses or other kind of financial strain. There are also benefits for parochial schools. You may smell chicken being grilled. It called barbequed chicken but it is basted with a butter, vinegar and salt mix rather than a tomato based sauce. It's done if you can twist the bone and have the chicken fall off. Another favorite is called a hay stack meal. You may know it by another name. It starts with rice. Pile on chips, beans, shredded cheese and other condiments then top it with a special tomato based sauce.
Amish Door Restaurant
Boyd & Worthman
Broad Run Cheese
Heinis Gourmet Market
Heinis Cheese Chalet
Hershberger Farm & Bakery
Miller's Dry Goods
Sugar Valley Meats