Pennsylvania Spotlights Rich Food Culture on Four New Culinary Trails

Culinary TrailsCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — First Lady Frances Wolf and Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Deputy Secretary for Marketing, Tourism & Film Carrie Fischer Lepore celebrated Pennsylvania’s rich food history and heritage with the launch this week of four new culinary trails: Picked: An Apple TrailBaked: A Bread TrailChopped: A Charcuterie Trail; and Pickled: A Fermented Trail.

“In Pennsylvania, food is not just a meal – it is an important piece of our history, culture and legacy,” said Deputy Secretary Fischer Lepore. “These culinary trails allow travelers to more fully immerse themselves into what it means to be a Pennsylvanian through our food legacy and traditions. And the culinary trails will introduce longtime Pennsylvanians to new restaurants, artisanal shops, and other venues, helping to boost the many small businesses that form the fabric of the commonwealth’s food legacy.”

The culinary trails feature local farms, artisans, and other food businesses from every county and corner of Pennsylvania, providing travelers with an immersive, multisensory understanding of the commonwealth’s bountiful food culture.

“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,” said First Lady Wolf. “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.”

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The culinary trails spotlight many of the diverse dishes that form the heart of Pennsylvania cuisine. Since 2018, the DCED been collaborating with Chatham University’s Center for Regional Agriculture, Food, and Transformation (CRAFT) to conduct thoughtful research to develop culinary trails that accurately represent the rich culture and history of the state, including the distinctive dishes popularized by immigrants who built communities in Pennsylvania.

“What I love about these trails is that they’re developed so every traveler feels safe and welcome,” said Mary Miller, culinary historian with CRAFT and lead researcher on the project. “All ages, backgrounds, and ability will find something they enjoy and have a great experience learning about Pennsylvania food.”

“We saw this collaboration as a unique opportunity to utilize culinary tourism to bolster our regional food system,” said CRAFT Program Manager Cynthia Caul. “The hope is to support local farms and food business and connect people to the people growing and making food in this region today and historically.”

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Each trail has four to five “clusters” separated by region to be completed over a two-to-four-day road trip, with a diverse offering of local bakeries, restaurants, wineries, cideries and other food shops and restaurants, as well as historically significant locations such as museums to give travelers a sense of the history of different crops, recipes, and food preparation techniques.

The Four New Culinary Trails

Pennsylvania is ranked fourth in the United States for apple growing, producing between 400 to 500 million pounds of apples per year. Picked: An Apple Trail offers a sampling of traditional farms, cideries, bakeries, and other locations like apple pie pottery and ceramic makers.

From pretzels and shoefly pie to haluski and hops, grains like corn and wheat have played a central role in Pennsylvania’s history, economy and culture. Baked: A Bread Trail honors the grain-growing regions of Pennsylvania with baked items, crafts, mills, bakeries, breweries and restaurants.

Derived from the French phrase meaning “cooker of meat,” curing meats is a practice dating back to the early 19th century in the commonwealth as migrants from Eastern European countries settled in rural areas and built smokehouses in their backyards. Chopped: A Charcuterie Trail takes visitors on an exploration of cured meats and accompaniments, ranging from backyard smoked sausage to select, hand-carved boards with curing methods and recipes that have been passed down for generations.

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From common menu items like pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, and beer to delicacies like red beet eggs, root beer, kefir and kombucha, Pennsylvanians love fermented foods. Pickled: A Fermented Trail includes stops at farms and creameries, vineyards and markets and even historically significant houses and hotels for fermented goods.

The four new culinary trails are in addition to two existing trails that were developed by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office to highlight Pennsylvania’s robust agriculture and food offerings: Scooped: An Ice Cream Trail and Tapped: A Maple Trail. For more information and a full itinerary of all Culinary Trails, go to the Culinary Trails on VisitPA.com and follow #PACulinaryTrails, #PickedInPA, #BakedInPA, #PickledInPA, and #ChoppedInPA.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Tourism Office, go to the visitPA website.

For more information about the Department of Community and Economic Development, visit the DCED website.

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