Pennsylvania is a unique state for a multitude of reasons, least of all not being its growing food scene. From Pittsburgh to the Poconos, visitors can find anything from gastropub dishes featuring the latest in culinary modernism to iconic classics that follow recipes handed down through generations. And now, visitors can also experience these foods through four newly-added food trails.
The state already had two existing food trails (more on that later) and they've since welcomed four more: Picked, Baked, Chopped, and Pickled, each of which ties into Pennsylvania's long history and timeline when it comes to the culinary arts. Featuring local business which then features local ingredients and traditional practices, foodies will be more than happy to turn their focus on this state.
About The Food Trails
Back in September when the four new food trails were launched, First Lady Wolf stated:
"Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have to share what life was like during any period of time, and what we eat, how we eat it, and why we eat it is a key piece to the stories we pass through generations. Pennsylvania’s past and present are hugely characterized by the foods that have been blended into the histories of our communities, and each of the culinary trails are the perfect way to showcase how every plate continues to shape our commonwealth."
These trails were created to present an authentic part of Pennsylvania's history - which is very much entangled with food - to both locals and visitors. Following any one of its trails is a sense of discovery and a delight to the senses but for the people of Pennsylvania, it's a way of sharing their agricultural and culinary history with the rest of the world.
Chopped: A Charcuterie Trail
Charcuterie - which is a fancy French term that translates to 'cooker of meat' - is simply relating to any type of meat that's been aged, salted, cured, or cooked in a certain manner. Many people are familiar with the basics such as prosciutto and salami but there are actually hundreds of types of charcuterie out there. In Pennsylvania, these include unique food items such as venison jerky, a variety of kielbasa and other sausages, and smoked meats. The method of preserving and cooking these meats dates back to the 19th century, and many markets and butchers are still doing it the way that generations prior have in their families.
Picked: An Apple Trail
According to DCED, Pennsylvania grows a whopping 400 and 500 million pounds of apples annually. So not only are the orchards ever popular as soon as August comes to an end but cideries and bakeries also become popular seasonal stops along the way. Picked: An Apple Trail takes visitors through some of Pennsylvania's most beloved bakeries, cideries, and farms, as well as artisans creating apple-themed pottery and ceramics.
Baked: A Bread Trail
It's quite possible that there's not a single person in the world who doesn't enjoy bread or some other freshly baked delight. Pennsylvania is home to a wide number of bakeries and small-batch artisans who create wonders with the use of wheat, barley, and grains, with many going beyond the world of simply just baking. This trail includes bakeries but also features historic mills, breweries, crafts, and restaurants. Those following the trail have the chance to see how every part of these grains is used from start to finish, making for a very full-circle experience.
Pickled: A Fermented Trail
This trail goes beyond the typical pickle and includes anything that's fermented, including tales of sauerkraut, beer, pickled seasonal vegetables, red beet eggs, kefir, root beer, and even kombucha that span back generations. The art that goes into the fermentation process becomes clear very early on in this trail, and it's a wonderful journey for those interested in both the process and the products.
Original Food Trails
There were two trails that came before the previous four and they're still open and available for visitors to follow. The original trails include creameries as well as maple products and sugar houses, so for those with a sweet tooth, these are a no-brainer.
Scooped: An Ice Cream Trail
There's nothing better than a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer's day, especially when it's made from scratch with milk from a local dairy farm. Pennsylvania is known for this and its ice cream trail spans across Western, Central, and Eastern Pennsylvania.
Tapped: A Maple Trail
Maple is very often associated with both New England and Canada, and Pennsylvania has a heavy hand in its production, as well. Visitors passing through the Laurel Highlands as well as the Pennsylvania Wilds have the chance to stop by the state's most incredible maple farms to try the freshest maple syrup around. This trail also includes local cafés, restaurants, and distilleries.