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An Apple a Day

Apples have always been an important part of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. In the early days, the custom of drying sliced apples for use later in the year resulted in some unique dishes. These dried apples slices (apple snitz or schnitz) are still used to make snitz pies and "schnitz un gnepp." The latter consists of dough dumplings cooked with home-cured ham. One secret to using snitz is to let the slices soak in water overnight.

Fresh apples are popular for making applesauce, apple cider, and apple pies, of course. But a local favorite is apple dumplings. Noted historian John Joseph Stoudt states that "compared to the English, Penn Dutch cooks were poor pudding makers. Rather, they disguised fruit in many ways. Dumplings were much favored, combining the German tradition of the dumpling with the love of the fruit."

Today, you’ll find apple dumplings in season at bakeshops and roadside stands. The apples are peeled and cored, wrapped in thick dough, and baked. They are best when served warm with milk or ice cream. Some people eat them for breakfast, while others find them a hearty dessert or snack later in the day.

No discussion of apples would be complete without mentioning "lattwaerrich," or apple butter. This delicious spread for bread and toast came from the Palatinate area of Germany, where prunes and pears were also used. Here, the traditional way of making apple butter was in large copper kettles filled with apple cider. Apple snitz was added to the mix, and the kettle had to be stirred continuously to prevent sticking to the bottom. Long-handled wooden paddles were used for this purpose so that the cook would not have to stand so close to the heat of the fire. Often the long process of making apple butter became a family party or neighborhood social event.

By the way, the true Pennsylvania Dutchman loves to put apple butter on cottage cheese. Some of us even pile both of them onto a slice of homemade bread, often to the surprise of visiting friends. Why not give it a try and spread the tradition of delicious apple butter?!

Amish Country News Article by Brad Igou 

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