Flavors of the PA Wilds
Our PA Wilds region is home to so many unique foods! Whether you’re a resident of the Pennsylvania Wilds or traveling through the area, don’t miss out on these distinctive flavors that can be found here!
Although you might think of Canada or Vermont when you think of maple syrup, Pennsylvania is a big producer of the sweet stuff too! Depending on the year, Pennsylvania ranks from fifth to seventh in production, making about 60,000 gallons per year, according to Penn State Extension. And with all of the trees that grow in our beautiful PA Wilds area, it’s no surprise that there are several businesses here that can help you satisfy that sweet tooth. Check out some of the Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania members who make maple products, like Miller’s Purely Maple, Sugar Mama’s Appalachian Maple, and Patterson Farms.
Root beer is a uniquely American flavor, but did you know that Pennsylvania has its own similar drink? Birch beer is made from the sap of a birch tree, which are often tapped throughout the state of Pennsylvania. You can find this sweet drink bottled and sold in many grocery shops and convenience stores throughout the PA Wilds.
Moving on from birch beer… and onto the type of beer that you might find in a bar or restaurant! The PA Wilds is home to some famous beer and cider producers, like Straub Brewery, New Trail Brewing, and many more! These beers are varied and unique, with each brewery putting its own twist on classics. Many breweries – like the historical Straub Brewery in Saint Marys – also give tours and demonstrations, adding to your experience. Check out this previous blog post, highlighting breweries that can be found within the Pennsylvania Wilds.
Like beers, wines come in many different varieties and flavors in the PA Wilds. These vineyards and wineries work hard year round to produce amazing flavors that are unique to our PA Wilds region. In fact, many wineries here produce drinks not just from the classic grapes but also from a multitude of other fruits. Only highly sought after flavor of wine? Elderberry! Read this previous blog post to learn more about the wineries of the PA Wilds.
Apple butter was brought over to colonial America by the Germans who settled in Pennsylvania (who later were called the Pennsylvania Dutch). Apple butter is similar to applesauce, with perhaps more cinnamon flavor and a thicker consistency. Although it’s different from a jam or a jelly, it can be used in much the same way, with many people using it on toast or English muffins during breakfast.
Deer and elk
The PA Wilds region boasts more than 2 million acres of public land: state game lands, parks and forests, and portions of the Allegheny National Forest that offer opportunities for wildlife viewing and hunting at different times throughout the year. It’s likely you know a hunter… and they just might be willing to share some of their harvest with you! Deer and elk meat (called venison) is enjoyed by families throughout the area and also sometimes even served at restaurants, such as the elk burger available seasonally at Little Sister’s Big Rig near Kinzua Bridge State Park.
Popcorn and pretzels
Pennsylvanians love sweet and salty snacks. Hard pretzels are a common road trip snack, especially when dusted with a savory flavoring or dipped in a yogurt or chocolate coating. Popcorn is another famous treat in the PA Wilds. The smell of freshly made kettle corn often wafts through the air at local fairs and festivals. You can even buy these treats in prepackaged bags, through places like King Krunch in Brookville or Highland Chocolates in Wellsboro.
Although many mushrooms are produced just outside of the Pennsylvania Wilds, the PA Wilds itself produces (and uses) its fair share of these fungi as well. In fact, one business in Clarion called the PA Mushroom Company recently won the 2022 PA Wilds / Ben Franklin BIG IDEA Contest, earning $25,000 to expand its company! PA Mushroom Company sells directly to customers and to restaurants. Locals and visitors alike throughout the PA Wilds also spend time outdoors, harvesting wild mushrooms like morels and hen of the woods.
Wild leeks, garlic and ginger
Similar to wild mushrooms, people in the PA Wilds also enjoy hunting for other wild plants, such as leeks (sometimes called ramps), mint, sorrel, garlic, dandelion leaves, rhubarb and walnuts. Harvesting these kinds of plants on a small level (for individual use or for your immediate family) is allowed on most public lands, but you should check local guidelines before harvesting.
Red pickled eggs
These famous red pickled eggs were, like many other foods, brought to the Pennsylvania region by German immigrants. Pickling was a common way of preserving food and making eggs last longer, but people still enjoy these treats for their unique taste. Pennsylvania’s pickled eggs are typically red because the recipe uses beets and sugar, adding that special color and a sweet and sour taste. You can find these red pickled eggs in many PA Wilds grocery stores, convenience stores, bars and restaurants.
Submarines, grinders, heroes… they’re all names for sandwiches, but here in the PA Wilds you’ll mostly hear them called hoagies! Although each sandwich shop will likely carry the classic varieties like Italian, turkey, meatball or other types of hoagies, they might also have their own special recipes. If you’re going on a trip through the PA Wilds, be sure to ask the hoagie shop if they have a recommendation or a special sauce.
Photo: Some delicious hoagies from Pepe’s Pizzeria in Kane
Made with love
Our favorite taste that can be found in the PA Wilds? Love! Yes, these foods are truly made with love… and we believe that you can taste the quality and care that goes into harvesting, cooking, baking, roasting, serving and packaging these foods. Enjoy these tastes and flavors that can be found within the PA Wilds!
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