A Few of Our Favorite Amish Things

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During a recent trip to our home state of Michigan, we made a point of stocking up on all our favorite Amish goodies. Since relocating to Western North Carolina a few months back we have been unable to find the same prices on some of the quality items we used to purchase in bulk from our favorite Amish farmers.

This has led us to ration our soap, cheese, maple syrup, and raw honey like a depression-era family.

Finally with our pantry re-stocked, along with a few new items we’ve been searching for, we should be able to survive the next few months.

Check out some of our favorite Amish-made goods and some unexpected new finds that made us smile.

Bar Soap

Our hats are off to all the soap makers out there. Handmade soaps are a DIY endeavor we have yet to try. We had friends in Michigan who made phenomenal natural soaps, priced so reasonably that we never had to learn the craft. (UPDATE: Since the original publication of this article we have learned how to make a great bar soap and can’t believe we put it off for so long!)

The quality of our soap is important to us. It’s lathered all over our skin – our largest organ. We are dedicated to using products on our skin that don’t contain harsh ingredients, so we’re willing to spend a little extra to avoid commercial brands that might be damaging to our bodies. You may be interested in reading this article to learn more about ingredients we avoid.

Amish made soap

During our Michigan trip, we visited an indoor Farmer’s Market to see our Amish farmer and friend Wilbur, who also sells fabulous handmade soaps. We bought nine bars of natural goat’s milk soap in scents like vanilla, citronella, rosemary, oatmeal lavender, and cinnamon. These should last us months (and will buy us some more time to find reasonably priced natural soaps in our neck of the woods or begin making our own).

Cheese

Matt finally admitted that he has a cheese addiction (from grass-fed animals only). Not a cheese-eating addiction, but a cheese-purchasing addiction. We have stacks of cheese in our freezer, a full drawer of cheese in the refrigerator, and a bag of cheese currently waiting to be dealt with on the kitchen counter. (I’m not sure what the obsession is all about.)

Amish made cheese

On day 4 of our trip Matt returned from a bulk Amish store in Mio, Michigan with the ungodly pile of cheese you see above. (Let me remind you there are only two people in our house.) Parmesan cheese for grating over pastas, soups, salads, steamed veggies and popcorn, and sharp white cheddar for his crackers, sandwiches, and burgers. I was excited to see the awesome price on the fresh parm. We have been buying it at a local health food store for a steep price and it was beginning to break the bank!

Raw Honey and Maple Syrup

We are always looking for healthier alternatives to sugar. We frequently sweeten our baked goods, smoothies, tea, and other items with raw honey or maple syrup.

Amish made sweeteners

Matt found a 6 lb. bucket of raw honey at the bulk Amish store for only $17. If you have ever priced out raw honey this is an extremely good deal. We purchase raw honey because it is less processed, allowing it to retain all of its health benefits. Did you know it is the only food that never spoils?

We also purchase crazy amounts of pure maple syrup from our Amish farmer. It tastes a million times better than Mrs. Butterworth’s, and does not contain high fructose corn syrup like most commercially prepared maple syrups. We purchase it by the gallon, which sets us back $47… again, a very good deal if you’re talking about pure maple syrup. We mostly use it to sweeten homemade granola, and of course it makes the occasional stack of pancakes or french toast taste delectable.

Spices and Seeds

Cooking from scratch requires a fully stocked spice cupboard. We are frequently running out of spices, so we like to have extras on hand. Let’s dispel a nasty rumor about spices right now–spices do not spoil, but they do lose strength over time. Whole spices will retain potency for about 4 years, 2 to 3 years for ground spices, and about 1 to 3 years for leafy herbs. So don’t throw out all your spices every 6 months! You can continue using them as long as they still have flavor.

Amish made spices

Matt found great prices on some of the spices we use regularly, including whole black peppercorns, ground cinnamon, chili powder, and Hungarian paprika. He also picked up a bag of flax seeds at a great price. These little power-packed seeds make a regular appearance in our homemade granola, smoothies, and cookies.

Metal Funnels

For a few years now, we have been on a mission to replace plastics in our kitchen. Even though many plastic products are now made BPA free, we believe plastics are not the safest choice for food storage and preparation. We have slowly been replacing plastic utensils and containers with glass, cast iron, stainless steel, bamboo, and other more natural materials.

Amish made funnels

Matt was ecstatic that he finally found a stainless steel canning funnel and a set of metal funnels for our kitchen after looking for more than a year. Now when we are canning, we won’t have to worry about the plastic funnels adding anything unnatural to the food we are taking great care to preserve. These aren’t made by the Amish, but we found them at an Amish supply store.

Your Favorites

We had a wonderful trip to Michigan, meeting the newest member of our extended family and catching up with the rest of our family.

All our cheap, healthy, Amish goodies were an added bonus to an already fabulous visit!

What about you? Do you have thriving Amish communities near you that are producing awesome goods to sell? What are some of your favorite things?

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Resources & Recommended Reading

Here are several good links to help you find Amish stores and wares, or simply to gather more info. Check for some close to your area or order online:

Betsy Jabs

About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebook, Twitter, and her +Betsy Jabs Google profile.

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Comments

  1. chris mclean says

    What was the name of the Amish place you bought your foods? And where was it located? Thank you, Chris

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      There were actually 2 stores Matt purchased all these goodies from. Both are located in Mio, Michigan. The bulk food store is on Kittles road, off M-33, about a mile or so northwest of town, and the Pioneer General Store is right on M-33 a couple miles north of town.

  2. Jeannette O. says

    I agree that there are many puppy mills in Amish country but that does not mean that all Amish should be condemned for it. There are bad apples in all groups and we shouldn’t generalize.

  3. Dee says

    The AMISH have a DIRTY little secret! Some of the WORST PUPPY MILLS ever.!!!…If you do not believe me… research it! I would NEVER buy anything from them!

  4. Carrie says

    Two things. First, that pile of ungodly cheese? It was made by the Amish, so chances are good it was very Godly. 🙂 Second, you talked about the pure maple syrup tasting tons better than Mrs. Butterworth, and I totally agree! But I was flabbergasted on one of my last trips to the store (which has sparked us buying only pure maple syrup) to find that the one I decided to buy was the ONLY one on the shelf (besides the store’s generic equivalent) that was actually truly MAPLE. I hadn’t noticed that all the other brands of syrup were no longer called “maple”…they all said “table syrup” or “pancake syrup” or simply just “syrup”! That was an eye-opener for me. It might be $7 a bottle, but I’m not buying that fake gel-ish syrup anymore.
    Thanks for this! I’m inspired to search for Amish stores near us. My grandmother grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, so the love of those quality products is in my blood. 🙂

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Lol! Your cheese comment made me laugh. 🙂 And you’re absolutely right about the maple syrup issue… commercial brands contain so much high fructose corn syrup or other ingredients that they hardly qualify as syrup! Pitiful. Good luck in your search for nearby Amish stores…they’re a real treat to have access to.

  5. Greg says

    Howbout that – read the article this week and find out at the farmers market that my aunt-in-law keeps bee hives on her property.

    Raw honey source….cha ching!

  6. Melissa says

    I didn’t even realize there were Amish in some of these parts of the country people have listed!! I live in the Middlebury/Shipshewana, IN (extremely Amish towns) area and my favorite store is E&S bulk foods! I get all my flour, sugars, produce, cereals, spices, cheese, ingredients for the laundry detergent, and tons of other stuff! It’s awesome living so close to one of the best places around:)

  7. Diana says

    I have had raw honey crystalize as well. I don’t buy anything other than raw. Haven’t for years. However, it seems the crystalization was caused from sitting unused for a period of time. We just warmed it up in hot water. Works fine. 😉

  8. michelle says

    If you have a dehydrator, put the honey in a container, and put that into the dehydrator for 2 – 3 hours at 110 degrees it until no crystals remain. It will not affect the taste or nutritional value of the honey and it will be good as new. Hope that helps!

  9. Viola Palmer says

    How do you keep your honey from forming crystals?

    I have heated mine in the microwave to get rid of them but as soon as it cools it forms more crystals. We love honey but I am afraid to buy it in bulk.

  10. Kathy says

    We are fortunate to live amongst a nice size Amish community and always look forward to the growing season when they have vegetable stands with an abundant amount of fresh vegetables. Just a few miles from our home is the Cheese house where we get fresh cheese and at a much better price than processed cheese at the grocery store. Please check out http://www.farmcountrycheese.com as they also package and ship cheese. You might like all the variety they have in cheese.

  11. Lois says

    My husband and I live in southern Maryland and have several Amish communities near us. I do like to shop for bulk foods/spices and am still looking for that type shop in our area. I do shop at the Amish farmers market near us and am quite happy that it is open for the season.

    Thanks for all the advice on naturally cooking and cleaning. I purchased your book DIY Natural Household Cleaners and have a couple of questions…..1) is sweet orange essential oil the same as orange essential oil? I haven’t been able to find the sweet orange oil. 2) What brand/type of natural concentrated cleaner do you suggest for the shower spray cleaner? I asked these questions at the local natural food store and they weren’t sure of the answers so appreciate any help you can offer.

  12. Greg says

    SO jealous of you guys! I used to go through Mio all the time as a kid on my way to Camp Barakel in Fairview (a few miles to the east).

    We’re adjusting to a new life in PA at the moment and will be working on naturalizing our cooking and living, much with your advice. Thanks for all your work!

      • Greg says

        Whoa! Small world! Can you send me her name? I wonder if we were ever there together (I worked a few summers a while back).

          • Greg says

            Definitely understand! I feel like I know you guys because I get to read the blog so often 🙂

            If you think of it, feel free to ask her if she knows me…certainly love that place and wish I could get up there more often!

  13. Kathy says

    This is probably THE thing that makes me wish I lived in the US! The Amish!

    We’re in Australia. I don’t know of any other similar places where we can get things like the Amish sell/offer. I’ve been told that you can hire an Amish midwife for $400. A midwife here is at least $4,000!

    We’re moving to a different area of Sydney soon and even though we still won’t have a big block of land (my dream!), we will be closer to the rural parts of the city, so I’m hoping to make some amazing finds! 🙂

    You are all so blessed to be near Amish communities! I don’t suppose anything is ever available online? I can only hope! 🙂

  14. mamabice1 says

    Aluminum isn’t good and stainless steel must be of hight quality or it will leach nickel in to you foods. If you touch a magnet to it and it doesn’t stick, it is cheap SS.
    This article and others on this site are good info about this.
    http://cookware.mercola.com/ceramic-cookware.aspx
    Also, the book called Radical Medicine By Dr. Louisa L Willams explains a lot of this as well.
    If the plastic doesn’t have BPA, I would not sweat it as much.

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Thanks for the info! We actually just found the mercola article today after other readers expressed concern about the aluminum. Looking into it!

  15. Tina says

    You said you are replacing your plastic funnels with metal ones, because of BPA. I am doing that too, and even found a glass one I LOVE! Do you have any concerns about aluminum in your baking sheets? There was a study showing an increase of aluminum in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. I have stopped using deodorants that have aluminum and have tried replacing my pans…just curious about your thoughts on this.
    p.s. love your site and newsletter 🙂

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