Mennonite Heritage and
Let's take a Look into the Past
Peppernuts, called "pay-pa-nate" in Low German and "pfeffernusse" in German, are associated with Christmas and grandmothers. They are tiny spicy cookies, much smaller than other cookies, and are traditionally baked for Christmas. In the olden days, some grandmothers made peppernuts the year round a special treat for their grandchildren and, oh, how we enjoyed grandmother's peppernuts !
Peppernuts are not exclusively Low German or American but are also baked in a number of European countries, such as Holland, Germany, Latvia, Denmark and others.
Our great grandmother's peppernuts were very plain, flavored mostly with pepper and a few other spices. As these recipes were handed down from generation to generation, the peppernuts became fancier. As time went on, various combinations of the following ingredients were being added: nuts, dates, raisins, citron, coconut, and gum drops, as well as different combinations of spices and flavors. Peppernuts may vary in size from large pea size to almost the size of a small cookie. Colors may range from almost white to dark brown. They may be round, square, or oblong. Some are hard, some are soft, and others are crisp and crunchy.
This is what Irma (Mrs. Jake) Koehn had to say about peppernuts: My grandmother baked her peppernuts around Thanksgiving time. On Sunday afternoon when we visited grandmother, a few were given to us children to taste. The rest were for Christmas. The Peppernuts were stored in a huge tin bowl-like container with a dome lid. Grandmother thought they were better if aged a few weeks. She had only one kind of peppernuts. My children also consider this the only kind of peppernuts--all others are just Christmas cookies, they say. In memory of Mrs. H. J. A. Voth.
Museum Store sells cookbooks, aprons, and ready made peppernuts. Be sure to check Museum hours.
Memory taken from the Mennonite Heritage Museum cookbook From Pluma Moos to Pie
Available at Museum Store
To read more memories of
Mennonite life past, go to :
Moos (rhymes with dose) traditionally was served for dinner on Christmas Day, along with cold boiled ham, fried potatoes, bread and peppernuts, or other Christmas cookies. Moos also was served on other holidays such as Easter and Pentecost. Often it was cooked on Saturday and then served for Sunday dinner along with cold meat and zwieback. Moos was served from a large bowl in the center of the table and eaten from individual bowls with a soup or dessert spoon. It was eaten with the main meal as you would a salad.
Moos is easily prepared. A thickening made of flour, sugar and cream or milk is added to some cooked fruit. Some people add spices such as a stick of cinnamon, star anise or cloves, according to taste. If spices are added, place a small spice bag and cook with the fruit, then remove the bag before thickening is added.
Any tart fruit may be used: sour cherries, plums, prunes, gooseberries, apples, apricots or raisins. The amount of flour, sugar or spices used varies according to taste and preference. Cream can be sweet or sour. If the finished product is too thick, dilute with sweet milk while the moos is still hot. Moos should have the consistency of medium thick gravy. Moos usually is served cold but may also be served hot.
1 qt. fresh or canned sour cherries
1 cup sugar
5 cups water
1\2 cup flour
1\4 to 1\2 cup sugar
1\2 tsp. salt
3 cups milk
Add water to cherries and cook until cherry skins crack. If canned cherries, heat until boiling. Add 1 cup sugar the last minute of boiling period.
Make a paste of the flour, salt, 1\2 cup sugar, and milk. Add thickening to fruit slowly, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken or coats a spoon. If soup seems too thick when cooled, add milk or a small amount of water.
Mother used gooseberries instead of cherries sometimes. But then she added more sugar. This was called Gooseberry Moos. Good served with fried ham and fried potatoes.
Mrs. Jacob S. Schmidt
From the Mennonite Heritage Museum cookbook From Pluma Moos to Pie
2014-2023 Mennonite Heritage
and Agricultural Museum
Created by Fern Bartel nee Schmidt