By Joanne Lehman
Recipe for success: Start with fine locally produced meats and cheeses; add a line of jams and jellies; bottle the goodness found at Amish wedding tables; add an assortment of freshly made premium ice creams; open a country market with bins of fresh, in-season produce; watch the delight of customers when they discover Troyer brand foods!
Troyer Country Market located along Route 39 in the heart of Amish country invites you to take the taste of your Holmes County visit back home. This is the perfect place to stock up on groceries for the coming season-whether it's bulk packaged pantry staples, a case of your favorite pickled beets, or a wheel of cheese. Jerky fans will want to gather up all the varieties of the Troyer Beef Jerky found here. This, and other Troyer foods is like homemade-created from an old-fashioned recipe and produced by Troyer's. It's truly one of a kind.
Jonas Troyer started the Troyer Cheese Company in 1961 to distribute local meat and cheese for area producers. One day at an Amish wedding, so the story goes, he looked around the tables at the array of jams and pickled vegetables and watched the servers pour glass jars of peaches and pears from the fruit cellar into a bowl. Suddenly he knew this was all so good he had to share it with everyone. Thus was the beginning of Troyer's line of Amish Wedding Foods in 2002. The cannery is in operation year round and is located in nearby Millersburg.
"What we make is not only food for special occasions," says Jonathan Yoder, manager of Troyer Country Market. "We like to say, our food makes any occasion special." Yoder said the colorful tiered display of Amish Wedding Foods at the market is an attraction for many who remember jars lined up in their mom's fruit cellar. "Our baby beets and bread and bread & butter pickle-people remember these from childhood and come in and buy cases," says Yoder. A case of 12 is discounted $.50 per jar. Repeat customers like the option of shopping at the online store.
Yoder said the company has long supplied area Amish families with the foods served at their weddings and church services. Most church groups have about 100 people in attendance at a Sunday meeting. The store begins slicing meat and cheese for their weekly church customers on Friday mornings. It can take awhile if several groups have placed orders. Troyer said some weeks they supply up to 20 churches.
For a church service, each group will typically order about 25 lb. of cold meats and 25 lb of cheese. They will need about 20 loaves of homemade bread and four quarts each of pickles and pickled beets. They may use several quarts of peanut butter spread which is made by mixing peanut butter, marshmallow cream and sweetener. Some hosts also offer homemade jelly or jam. Dessert is a selection of homemade pies and cookies made by the hostess and her friends and relatives.
Amish weddings include a full cooked meal that often features foods the family has produced themselves. There are many side dishes and salads. The main course is usually chicken. One recent wedding meal required 250 lb. of chicken.
While you may not relish the idea of cooking up the quantities served by local cooks at these important Amish meals, you can gather up some of that same wholesome goodness for your own table with a stop at Troyer's Country Market. "When we opened up the store in September of 2006, we not only wanted to promote our own line of product, we also felt that it was important for the community to have a large outlet for produce grown by local farmers," says Yoder. Local growers sell fresh produce during the season. It's not unusual to find heirloom tomatoes and homegrown sweet corn, berries, squash, apples and the like.
Troyer's foods and Amish Wedding Foods go to small markets across the U.S. Since Troyer's delivers to many of these, they've developed networks that allow them to bring the bounty of seasonal crops in other regions back to Ohio-oranges directly from Florida, tree ripened peaches from Georgia and many freshly picked vegetables which ripen at different times in these places.
Most days you can find a few samples of the goodies Troyers have for sale. These are scattered around at various places in the store so be sure to wander through the aisles. Browse through the extensive cookbook collection-many published by local Amish and Mennonite church groups. You're sure to find one or two that will help you fill your table with good food when you get back home. They are also great gifts for family and friends.
For the holidays, Troyer's cheese balls are popular for parties and gatherings of all kinds. Gift boxes are also available at the store and online year-round.And speaking of flavors-there are sixteen ice cream flavors to choose from. Made in house, these premium ice creams are 14% butterfat-rich and full of the best fruits, berries, nuts and flavorings Troyers can find.
Troyer's Country Market is easy to find. It's on the corner of State Route 39 and County Road 77-two popular Amish Country routes. Look for their bright red roof and crates of seasonal fruits and veggies on their front porch.