Pig Stomach & Other Berks County Foodways

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Vicky Heffner, Education Curator at the Berks History Center, has fond memories associated with pig stomach. In her family, it’s a tradition to make pig stomach every year on her father’s birthday. So today, like every January 16th, Vicky prepared this family favorite.

Vicky first learned to prepare this Pennsylvania German treat with her grandmother. The pig stomach is cleaned and soaked in salt water overnight. Then, she cubes potatoes and removes the casing from the sausage (always from Peters Brothers Meat Market in Lenhartsville), mixing both with salt, pepper, and parsley. She stuffs the pig stomach with the mixture and sews it shut with a special sewing needle, which belonged to her great-grandmother. The stuffed stomach is baked for about 3 hours at 350 degrees in a special roasting pan. As you can see from the photo, the roasting pan is well-worn because it is the same roasting pan her grandmother used to make pig stomach. A perfect pig stomach is one that does not break open while cooking. Once cooked, the pig stomach is sliced and served. Vicky says the dish tastes best with corn and coleslaw.

You can almost imagine as she prepares this traditional Pennsylvania German meal, with all the knowledge and materials passed down to her from the previous generation, Vicky’s grandmothers, standing right there beside her in the kitchen as she carefully stitches up the pig stomach with her special sewing needle and roasting pan. You can imagine them smiling as she serves this meal to her children and they taste the same comforting flavors that their great-great-grandparents once enjoyed. This is the power of foodways. Our stories, our family history, our heritage can all be told through the food we eat. Just one bite can connect us to our past.

This year, the Berks History Center will explore this compelling human experience. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, foodways are the “eating habits and culinary practices of a people, region, or historical period.” As we delve into this topic, we will focus on the foodways that are important to the people of Berks County. We will do so through themed programming, including Second Saturday programs and the Berks History Conference, as well online communications. We will share our local foodway stories, including stories from BHC staff, here on our blog, NewsBits (the BHC newsletter) and social media ( Follow @berkshistory).  We hope that you will share your stories too. Send us photos, recipes, and information about your traditional family foodways by participating in the #MyBerksHistory project or email us at publicity@berkshistory.org. We want to share as many stories about Berks County’s history as we can! Stay tuned!

This article was written as part of the Berks History Center’s 2018 Berks County Foodways Project. Click here to learn more about Berks County Foodways. 

 

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7 thoughts on “Pig Stomach & Other Berks County Foodways

  1. Oh Vickie, I love this idea. I often cook on the open hearth at the PA German Cultural Heritage Center. I have some great pictures.

  2. Sadly, I have to say this is gross. What an ugly picture. It may have struck me better of a picture after it was baked, sliced and on a plate with a side or two. I was offered this PA Dutch delicacy by my elder neighbors years ago and simply could not bring myself to even try it. I like my potatoes and sausage “chust so” and they do not have to be baked in an animals stomach for me to enjoy them. I do know that sausage is made of scrap bits and pieces (snoots and ears) and stuffed into a casing but it looks more palatable to me than the above photo. I applaud Vickie for caring to bring forth the history of generations in her family. I much rather would have seen a story of the inception of some great baked goods or creative use of veggies.

    • Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts! We know that what is delicious to some can be appauling to others. That’s what makes sharing our diverse local foodways so fun!

  3. how can I have frozen pig stomach sent to me here in las vegas with the sausage? Can you advise I am so hungry for the pig stomach………….my phone 702-466-2673 originally from Carlisle, Pa…….let me know

    • Hmmm! Now that’s a challenging question! Maybe get in touch with Peters Brothers Meat Market in Lenhartsville. Perhaps they will ship to you!

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