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Scrapple

  • t

There have been several strings devoted to scrapple over the years. But none have answered three basic questions: (1) What is the best commercially prepared scrapple? (2) Is it, or any other scrapple, available by mail order for those whose local markets don’t carry scrapple? (3) Is the quality of commercially prepared scrapple such that scrapple lovers should ignore it, and go to the effort of making their own homemade scrapple?

Kirby and Holloway in Harrington, DE make scrapple. But a look at the list of ingredients (including the disclaimer “contains no snouts”) reveals that it is made of pork liver, pork fat, pork skins, and pork hearts. Maybe I’m a purist, but classic scrapple is made with a pig’s head as the essential ingredient, mixed with cornmeal, and seasoned with sage and cayenne. Other recipes include various other parts of the pig, such as trotters, knuckles, ribs, and liver, and embellish the seasonings. Some “modern” recipes include more desirable parts of the pig, such as the shoulder or butt. But in none of the traditional recipes is the liver dominant. One recipe that includes one liver for every 4 heads, states, “Add liver until you can taste it but the liver flavor does not predominate.” The Kirby and Holloway recipe, with pork liver as the dominant pork product, seems too much like a paté, and not close enough to the traditional recipe. Stoltzfus meats in Intercourse, PA sells scrapple, as does Seltzer’s Smokehouse Meats in Lititz, PA. However, I haven’t yet been able to determine how either of these producers makes their scrapple. Habbersette Scrapple is sometimes mentioned as the best commercially prepared scrapple, and is available by mail order through a couple of sources. Again, however, I don’t know how it’s made or much about it.

Are there any scrapple experts out there who can provide information to answer these questions?

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  1. All I can tell you is that my mother's family made it my mother is 83 and her grandmother (came from PA before the Civil War) made it, and she's never said anything about it being from any specific part of the hog, just bits and pieces, or when it's not butchering season, sausage scraps. They did their butchering themselves in those days, in the winter (family photos included, posing in snow with hanging swine and g-grandma in a long black dress).
    I guess I never knew it was made commercially.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Betty

      I always was told it was made with the head also. In Pa dutch land , Lancaster , Lehigh Valley etc, buckwheat is used instead of cornmeal. The Allentown farmers market has some great farmers who have buckwheat scrapple.

    2. Let me weigh in with my opinion here, as someone who grew up in Central PA. First off, I have never, ever, tasted a commercial scrapple that wasn't awful. It's mostly organ meat. To be honest, I have not had the Habbersette Scrapple, but I'm not holding my breath.

      Having said that, there are millions of variables, and it all depends on what you like. I prefer the Amish method, which I'm pretty sure (I'm not Amish) uses predominantly head meat, and those scraps left from the butchered pig. I don't like the "fancy" scrapples with the choice cuts of meat. It ruins it somehow.

      I was recently on a tour that took me to Reading PA, and we found a market with about 3 different butchers, all having scrapple. A friend and I got scrapple from different butchers and it was vastly different, even though it was from the same region.

      I don't know if anyone mail orders scrapple, but here are a few places that I've enjoyed, and you might try calling to see if they would send some. The first was a surprise in Annapolis MD. Off of Rt. 2 there's a shopping center with a theater, Tower records, and an Amish market (open Th-Sat). They have great scrapple. Another is in Mechanicsburg/Camp Hill PA, At the West Shore Farmer's Market. As you go in the door, the first butcher to your right (can't remember his name) has scrapple made from his grandmother's recipe. Delicious. Both Stoltzfus and Seltzer’s scrapple is good, but I don't know how they make it. I've never tried making it myself. A friend's father makes it and it doesn't seem too hard, although I've never witnessed this blessed event.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bill

        Thanks, Bill. Great post. I have a friend here in Los Angeles that makes homemade scrapple every year at Christmas-time. It disappears quickly, and then I'm left scrappleless the rest of the year. I agree with you that classic scrapple uses the scraps left over after butchering a hog. It ain't fancy, but I've had scrapple that sure is lip smackin' good.

        1. re: Bill

          I grew up in the Reading area and could find no better scrapple than Habbersette, although some years ago a company called Roberts also made scrapple which was also very good. I agree that most if not all other commercially produced scrapple horrid. I now live outside DC and can find none worth eating.

          1. re: Bill

            Just for the record, the butcher at the West Shore Farmer's Market (Lemoyne, not Mechanicsburg) is Stoney's.

            And you are right the scrapple is very good there.

            1. re: Bill

              rapa scraple in Bridgeville, DE does mail order From November to March. Shiping costs as much as the scrapple to ship to Flordia.

            2. Hi Tom. I was going to wait to reply till I had a chance to check the Habbersett's label at the supermarket for dreaded organ meats. But after Bill's post I really need to weigh in with my own scrapplephile point of view.

              We get all our pork from a farmer/butcher in Berks County (outside of Reading). We buy a whole pig once a year and we use (or sell back) "everything but the oink." We leave the scrapple-making entirely up to the butcher. He uses only meat scraps, no innards. The leaner we trim our chops and roasts, the softer (fattier) our scrapple turns out. It's always softer than commercial brands, which have a whole lot more cornmeal, though probably no less fat.

              Last October, 30 members of my Phila-area family went to Glasgow, Scotland for a wedding. The Scots were altogether impressed at how manfully we handled the haggis. Yo: substitute cornmeal and pork for the oats and mutton and you've got yerself a plate of scrapple.

              Tom, how do you eat your scrapple? At our house, we pair it with applesauce. My Daddy always ate his on soft white bread with dark Karo syrup. I've heard that Willow Valley, a Lancaster County resort, serves deep fried scrapple sticks as part of their breakfast buffet. Now THAT's serious scrapple.

              suky

              5 Replies
              1. re: Suky

                My mother's side of the family is Scottish, and I'm a card-carrying haggis eater. Do you suppose I'm genetically programmed for haggis, scrapple, and other similar "scrap-meat" concoctions?

                I usually saute my scrapple in butter to a light to medium crisp, and eat it with maple syrup. Applesauce would be a terrific pairing. I should have thought of that, apples and pork being a classic combination. I usually make my own applesauce from Gravensteins, since the commercial brands are sweeter than I like. Thanks for your interesting post.

                1. re: Suky

                  I'm staying near E. Berlin in Pa. Yesterday had some scrapple from the Mennonite groceery store in E. Berlin. Had the locally made stuff

                  Label gone, but we ate it with jelly, grape jelly in my case, delicious. Also maple syrup.

                  Doug

                    1. re: saucyknave

                      Hey guys and gals (Scrapple Lovers)

                      I'm clear out here on the west coast, and even out here, we can find scrapple in a good butcher shop.

                      But we prefere to make home made scrapple, the recipe and the love for good scrapple, has came down through the many generations, our favorite way to fix scrapple is make it thick, and plenty of pork, and after letting it set up, and age, in the refrigerator for a couple of days, we slice it thin, and fry to a golden brown, preferably in a cast iron skillet.

                      Served with eggs (any way you like eggs), it's a breakfast fit for a king.

                      Dean Simar

                      dean_simar@yahoo.com

                  1. re: Suky

                    In Lancaster, you will find scrapple served with syrup (like pancake syrup), but in Philly we tend to eat it with ketchup. The old fashioned way of cooking it was to dust it with a little four, then put it in a cold iron skillet, letting it cook slowly as the pan heats up. Some people also put a weight on the top to flatten it out & insure even crispiness. It takes a long time to cook this way & you need to have a relatively thin piece. A lot of places have taken to deep frying the scrapple because it's a lot faster, they can cook thicker slices & also gives that crispy outside crust.

                    Laliz (down below): my dad (he was PA Dutch) used to make corn meal mush & put it in a loaf pan. Once it cooled/solidified, he's slice it down and fry it in an iron skillet as well -- served with syrup. And yes, cream of wheat (and probably grits) lends itself to this. VERY hearty fare for a time when people did physical work, didn't have much money & had to fill a lot of hungry bellies. .

                  2. Boy this is seriously funny!!! I am in Georgia, where there is no scrapple to be found. I have not found a local butcher here or anyone that has even heard of scrapple none the less tasted it. I read all of the comments and I know that you are located in PA, but I grew up in Delaware and we always ate Kirby Holloway and Rapa Scrapple my whole life. The Rapa is my favorite and they have a mail order program even that you are able to order 12 packages in the mail. I am not sure what it is made of, but I at least wanted to throw the name out. We have an Apple-Scrapple festival there and Rapa is the hit. We generally eat the scrapple fried, as a breakfast meat. I eat mine plain on two slices of untoasted white bread and my mom likes ketchup and mustard. Hope you enjoy these comments.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Shannon

                      Scrapple on untoasted white bread sounds delicious. I imagine the bread gets all smushed and greasy. Mmm.

                      1. re: Val G

                        Today I started making my three day spaghetti meat sauce... and was STARVIN'... And so went and picked up some lousy Parks Scrapple and made a scrapple, grade b maple syrup, and soft fried egg sandwich on soft country white bread which was so juicy and squishy and tasty... MMMMMmmmmm.... I daren't get my cholestrerol tested... or anyway I am scared to... but life ain't worth livin' without some comfort... Ja Know?

                        1. re: Val G

                          You got it that bread, by the end is as good as the scrapple itself... I am going to buy some from Rapa and get it sent to me in GA soon. I miss it so much

                          1. re: Val G

                            Just as I read this I as chompin' down on some homemade bread piled high with scrapple and a sunny-side egg and thinkin'..."Damn if this isn't the best way to eat scrapple!"

                            It's the first time I tried that...definitely worth repeating though. I love scrapple and maple syrup, and am looking to try scrapple and fried apples when apples come back in season.

                        2. Imagine that - a site dedicated to scrapple! I grew up in Philly and grew up eating Habbersette's, sliced to 1/4" and slowly fried to a beautiful golden-brown crust. Delicious topped with ketchup and placed beside a pair of eggs over easy. I now live in FL and have a difficult time finding Habbersette's (or any other brand)at any grocery store. Some stores here carry Jones brand. I tried it and was not impressed. My yen for scrapple led me to try it again. I was able to improve the flavor by frying it in a tiny bit of bacon fat and adding a little salt and a dash of cayenne pepper while frying. I think the commercial manufacturers are too concerned with the nutrition label, cutting the fat and sodium content in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience. Scrapple never had a wide audience and never will. The people who enjoy scrapple like the fat and seasonings. I have, on rare occasions, found Habbersette's locally and it just doesn't taste the same today as I remember it 25 or so years ago. The doctoring works great - careful with that cayenne.