If you’ve ever dreamed of diving into a jar of pickles, you might want to take your next vacation in Pennsylvania. Established by the state’s tourism authority, Pickled: A Fermented Trail is a curated road trip itinerary through Pennsylvania highlighting makers who use the fermentation process to create foods and drinks that are good for you, delicious, and in some cases carry on historic traditions.
The “trail” is actually five regional trails, each exploring different areas with strong fermentation traditions. I decided to hit the road with the an itinerary through the Pennsylvania Wilds, Upstate Pennsylvania, and the Pocono Mountains. Other Pickled itineraries around the Keystone State feature stops like the Laurel Highlands Meadery in Greensburg; fermentation- and vegetarian-friendly Philadelphia restaurant Martha; Olde Heritage Homemade Root Beer in Ronks; and Renewal Kombucha in Lititz. And then there’s the bottle of 166-year-old pickles at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.
If fermented foods aren’t entirely your thing, Pennsylvania’s tourism board has curated other food trails to try. There’s Baked: A Bread Trail, Picked: An Apple Trail, Scooped: An Ice Cream Trail, and Tapped: A Maple Trial.
Five must-visit stops along Pennsylvania’s Fermented Trail
In the middle of Pennsylvania’s sweeping farmland south of Scranton is Pocono Organics, a 380-acre organic farm that grows and sells fresh produce year-round. The farm was founded by Ashley Walsh in 2008 out of necessity: Ashley suffers from gastroparesis, or an inability to digest food easily. What began as a 50-acre community farm has grown into one of the largest regeneration farms in the U.S., as well as a global center for research, education and innovation. When the state’s traditional growing season ends in the fields, Pocono Organics’ continues inside eight greenhouses to make fresh fruits and vegetables available year-round. Public farm tours are available Saturdays and Sundays, and the market and café are open Thursday through Monday; cooking classes are also on the calendar. Pick up housemade fermented items like pickles, giardiniera, and tomato jam in the market.
Overlooking Wallenpaupack Falls and flowing Wallenpaupack Creek, Glass serves dinner nightly at Ledges Hotel in Hawley. The hotel is housed in the former J.S. O’Connor Rich Cut Glass Factory, which was built in 1890 and was considered one of the finest cutting shops in the world. Surely a few of the elegant bowls and dishes delicately made in the factory held pickles and other regional fermented items in their heyday. Glass’s menu is filled with dishes that appeal to all appetites, including mixed pitted olives served with citrus, herbs and Moroccan spices; whipped potato & cheddar pierogies served with caramelized onions and chive crème fraiche; and the very filling marinated gigante bean salad served with local forest mushrooms and artichoke hearts, complimented with a sherry vinaigrette.
The charming and walkable town of Honesdale is home to Native, a casual restaurant serving elegant dishes in the Poconos. Native’s menu is filled with small and large plates that feature “as many local farmers and producers as possible.” Notable bites include toast with grilled peach, whipped ricotta and hot honey; roasted beets with whipped goat cheese, walnut and lemon; charred kale with chili oil and lemon; and housemade Ravioli Doppio with mushrooms and goat cheese, served with an almond brown butter. Native is decidedly vegetarian and vegan friendly: the menu notes which dishes can be prepared vegetarian and vegan with the swapping out of a few ingredients.
The Canning House
Aptly named for its location inside a former canning production facility, The Canning House is a fun, veg-friendly lunch spot (and brunch on Sundays) to check out in Forty Fort, near Scranton. Bite into seasonal dishes like the falafel bahn mi, a housemade chickpea patty served with pickled vegetables, cilantro, alfalfa sprouts and a chipotle-lime aioli; the vegan ‘unbeetable burger,’ a vegan black bean burger with avocado, pickled jalapenos, lettuce, tomato and onion with the chipotle-lime aioli; or the Mediterranean veggie wrap with spinach, cucumber, onion, tomato, feta, baba ghanoush and tzatziki. The Canning House pours a variety of flavors from Counterpart Kombucha, so check out what’s on tap. You’ll find flavors including beets and berries, blueberry-pomegranate, lavender-rose, and strawberry-basil.
When traveling, it’s important to take time to let you experiences marinate, and one amazing place to do just that is the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale. With 400 acres and comfortable accommodations, there are plenty of quiet spaces to savor your time in Pennsylvania, and plan a return visit for more exploration. And, if a sweet treat will help with that rumination, be sure to stop by Moka Origins for a bite of small-batch, sustainable craft chocolate.