vinegar and brine


Matjes is a North German seafood dish. It can be raw herring in a mild vinegar pickle or brined. The marinade might contain vinegar, cider, wine or tea, sugar, herbs (usually bay leaf), spices (usually mace), and chopped onion. The word ‘soused’ can also describe a marinated herring that has been cooked. Soused herring, as served in Germany, Scandinavia, and the Netherlands, is a mild, soft salt herring, made from young immature herrings. It’s ripened in oak barrels in a salty solution or brine. (Raw pickled herring in vinegar is called “Rollmops” in Germany and it’s a different dish.) As of 2015, Glückstädter Matjes from Schleswig-Holstein has the EU’s “protected designation of origin” certification. 

6 Matjesfilets, halbe (halved Matjes fillets) - 1 große Zwiebel oder Gemüsezwiebel (large regular or mild onion) - 2 Äpfel (apples) - 2 Becher Magerjoghurt, a 150 g (cups of plain low-fat yogurt) - 2 EL Mayonnaise oder Salatcreme (mayonnaise or salad cream like Miracle Whip) - etwas Salz und Pfeffer (some salt and pepper) - etwas Zucker (some sugar) - 1 EL Schnittlauch oder Petersilie (tablespoon chives or parsley)  

Die Zwiebel in feine Scheiben hobeln oder würfeln. (Cube or grate onions.) Die Äpfel möglichst mit Schale fein schneiden/würfeln (Cube or chop apples, skin on). Aus Joghurt und den anderen Zutaten eine Soße zubereiten und die Zwiebel und Äpfel darunter mischen (Make a sauce from yogurt and the other ingredients and add onions and apples, stir.) In einer länglichen Terrine oder Auflaufform den Boden mit Joghurtsoße bedecken (in a container, cover the bottom with the yogurt sauce). Die Matjesfilets kurz abspülen, trocken tupfen und dann filetweise nebeneinander auf die Joghurtcreme legen; nächste Schicht Joghurtcreme drauf verteilen und wieder mit Matjesfilets belegen(Briefly wash the Matjes herring, pat dry and place fillets on top of yogurt sauce, lined up next to each other; add another layer of sauce on top, layer herring again, etc.) Mit Folie oder Deckel abdecken und mindestens 1 Stunde durchziehen lassen (Cover with foil or a cover and let marinate for at least 1 hour.) Kalt servieren, mit Kartoffeln und Schnittlauch oder Petersilie (Serve cold with boiled potatoes, parsley or chives sprinkled on top.) Sollte noch etwas übrig bleiben, schmeckt es auch gut mit der Soße auf Schwarzbrot serviert (If there should be leftovers, it also is delicious, served on dark bread with the yogurt sauce).


Pennsylvania Food Part 2/2

PA is one of the only states with a distinct cultural cuisine, dating back to the late 17th century when German immigrants began setting up various communities across the state. They came to be known as the Pennsylvania Deitsch or Pennsylvania Dutch, taking from the word for their original German language, Deutsch. PA has many dishes similar to those of Germany, but the state also has many foods that can be distinguished completely from their original foreign inspirations. 


Root Beer

The medicinal effects of the sassafras root have been known to both Native American and European cultures for centuries. Root Beer is made using this plant, as well as sarsaparilla vine, and comes in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic forms. The drink as we know it today was created by European settlers in the 1800s, who combined their knowledge with what they had gathered from the natives to market Root Beer as a syrup, and eventually a soda by 1850. Non-alcoholic Root Beer has been more popular in the US since Prohibition. Although variations of Root Beer existed across Europe and early US colonies, the drink as we know it today was first created and marketed successfully by Charles Hires, a Philadelphian Quaker. 

Birch Beer

Made in a similar manner to Root Beer, Birch Beer is made using birch bark, most often from sweet (black) birch. Both Root Beer and Birch Beer are popular as floats, in which vanilla ice cream is added to the drink. Adding chocolate ice cream to Birch Beer is called a Black Cow. Both drinks are popular across the US, but mostly in California and the Northeast, as these are where major soda beer companies are located. The drinks are also making their way into various Asian countries.


This popular beer began in 1829 by David Jungling  in Pottsville, PA, and has been brewing ever since. The company survived Prohibition by selling both near-beers and making ice cream from their dairy. It is popular along the east coast down to Florida. It is America’s oldest and largest brewery. The company still produces Yuengling Ice Cream, after halting the product for decades, and it is sold in various flavors. 

Wine & Spirits

PA has some of the strictest liquor laws in the US. Wine and spirits can only be sold at state owned stores. Beer can be bought only at a beer store or distributor. Alcohol can of course still be bought at restaurants, bars, and wine at wineries. There are no exceptions, religious or otherwise, for consuming alcohol under the legal age limit. 



This pan-fried meat patty is made of leftover porkscraps from butchering, and mixed with buckwheat flour and cornmeal. It’s found in various northeast states, but hales from PA. 

Apple Butter

This highly caramelized and concentrated form of apple sauce is a popular spread in PA due to its German roots. It is part of the traditional “seven sweets and seven sours” dinner table. It’s served best with cottage cheese.

Lebanon Bologna

Created in Lebanon County, PA, this hardwood smoked and fermented beef sausage is distinct from other salami. It has a unique tangy/smoked flavor and is sold mostly in PA.

Hog Maw

Pig’s stomach stuffed with potatoes, pork sausage,and varying other ingredients. It is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day

Chow Chow

Pickled vegetables served as relish. The dish has spread to the southern US and many other states. 


A tough cut of meat, usually beef or the traditional horse, is marinated in vinegar or wine and a variety of spices for several days. It a national German dish with various PA adaptations. 

Schnitz und Knepp

Dried apples, dumplings, and ham are long cooked for this warm winter dish. The dish came into creation in the 19th century thanks to Johnny Appleseed planting apple trees in PA. 

Red Beet Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs cured in beet, vinegar, clove, and sugar brine. They have a distinct red-purple coloring. 

Potato Filling

A simple traditional mashed potato and bread casserole, occasionally made with a variety of other ingredients such as butter, eggs, parsley,and onion.  

Cup Cheese

Invented in the 17th century, this smelly, yellowish, hard-but-spreadable cheese is traditionally sold in a cup across PA.


The only item on this list not traditionally PA Dutch, the cheesesteak is a long hoagie with thinly sliced steak meat and melted cheese, sometimes with sauteed onions. It was invented in Philadelphia around the 1930s. This next statement is for the tourists: no restaurant claiming to have the best/original cheesesteak is telling the truth; they’re pretty much all the same, and everyone has their own favorite cheesesteak spot. Also, it’s best with provolone. 


Shoofly Pie

Whether dry bottom or wet bottom, this pie is made by filling a pie shell with molasses and crumbs, and then baked. It gets its name from the flies that must be shooed away from the sweetness. 

Whoopie Pie

This cake/pie/giant oreo cookie is the greatest thing to ever exist. It’s two slices of chocolate cake, or sometimes other cake flavors, sandwiching around cream filling. The pie is popular in Maine, and although many states claim to be the origin, the recipe for the Whoopie Pie comes from the Amish Pennsylvania Dutch, in PA. 

Teaberry Ice Cream

Not PA Dutch, this strictly-PA ice cream flavor is made from the teaberry and tastes like fresh wintergreen. PA ice cream manufacturers like Hershey and Turkey Hill also make commercial versions. It’s bright pink and tastier than it sounds.

Apple Dumpling

This apple-cinnamon pastry is native to PA and popular throughout the northeast.

Funnel Cake

This PA Dutch dish was brought over by German immigrants, and became popular around 1879. It’s just fried dough with powdered sugar. It is now served mainly at fairs across the northeast. 

Local Variations

Pork and Sauerkraut

This is eaten on New Year’s Day for good luck

Pot Pie

Not a meat pastry like in the rest of the US. This a soup made with traditional Pot Pie ingredients, as well as homemade square noodles.   

Chicken and Waffles

Not the soul food version. This is a waffle covered in gravy and pulled chicken. 


Pierogies are found frequently across PA, especially Pittsburgh, with various new recipes thanks to the heavy Eastern European population. 


The regional name of the submarine sandwich found in PA. Wawa’s Hoagiefest is a celebrated tradition for many east PA natives.

Dippy Eggs

The slang term for over easy eggs or any form of fried eggs. It arose from people dipping their toast in the yolk. In my opinion, that’s the best way to eat an egg. 

FFIX: Gysahl Pickles

What’s this? This isn’t mmorpg food! 

And you would be correct dear reader, though it IS from a video game. I’ve fiddled around with pickling things a few times, never really satisfied. Then one day, while replaying Final Fantasy 9, I got to the part where Steiner experiences the joys of Gysahl Pickles and thought to myself, “What if I did this? I could at least try.” And try I did, and I must say the results were quite tasty.

Since we had another recipe this week already, I thought instead of a mmorpg recipe, I would put this forth, another in the list of random encounter recipes, if you will. For those of you confused at the use of carrots and parsnips, the original version of gysahl greens in Final Fantasy games were carrot-like plants, so that’s what we’re using. 

This will make 1 large jar of pickles, or two smaller jars. I didn’t use the standard process for canning/jarring goods, so while there isn’t necessarily a risk of contamination, these pickles should be kept refrigerated at all times!


  • 1 cup Distilled/Filtered Water
  • 1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 ½ tbsp Kosher/Pickling Salt
  • 1 Handful (approx. 1 ½ tbsp) Black Peppercorns 
  • 1 Handful (” “) Hot/Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Handful (” “) Fresh Ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 large cloves Garlic
  • 4-5 sprigs of Fresh Dill
  • 3 large Carrots
  • 3 Parsnips

Cook Time: 10 - 15 min.  |  Wait Time: Approx. 2 days

Makes: Enough for a BBQ or Spring Cookout!


Step 1.) Wash the jar(s) you will be using in hot water and soap, then set aside.

Step 2.) Wash, peel, and julienne the carrots and parsnips to fit inside the jar(s). Slice your garlic cloves into 3-4 large pieces. Stuff the carrots, parsnips, garlic, and dill into the jar(s) until full.

Step 3.) In a pot, combine the water, vinegar, salt, peppercorns, pepper flakes, and ginger and bring to a boil, allow to sit at a boil for 2-3 minutes or until the salt is completely dissolved. 

Step 4.) Carefully pour the brine into the jar(s) until the brine is about 1/2″ below the top of the jar(s). Tap the jar(s) or use a knife to swirl around the inside to free trapped air bubbles. Close the jar(s) and allow to sit for about an hour to cool.

Step 5.) Place the jar(s) into the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least 2 days to marinate. Lasts for about 1 ½ weeks.


The apple cider vinegar makes a milder brine than what you might experience with normal white vinegar pickles. Mixed with the ginger and red pepper, this makes for a uniquely refreshing and spicy (but not too spicy) pickle! 

Apple cider vinegar also serves to give the pickles a pungent smell that, en masse, could have been the same overwhelming smell as their video game counterparts. But trust me, they taste much better than they smell!

I will definitely be making this again over the summer!

Screen Shot Source

Garlic Dill Pickles

Left to my own devices I can consume an entire jar of pickles a day, which can be a pricey addiction to feed relying on store-bought pickles alone. Pickles are ridiculously easy and cheap to make at home, needing no special equipment or expensive ingredients, so when time prevails in the summer I make double and triple batches to hold me over into the cooler months.

Model: Little Chernobyl


  • 3-4 lbs pickling cucumbers (halved or quartered lengthwise)
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch dill 
  • peppercorns
  • chili pepper (optional)


  1. Stir salt, water, and vinegar together to make the brine. 
  2. Add 2 cloves garlic, dill (divided evenly), and a few peppercorns into each jar.
  3. Pack sliced cucumbers into jars.
  4. Fill jars to brim with brine. Be sure to submerge all of the cucumbers. Seal.
  5. Leave at room temperature for 2 days then into the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks. Pickles should be eaten within 3 months.