Above: It's Saturday, and Doris Gehman and her daughter Mary Ruth are selling Heirloom Fruitcake at the Lititz Farmers' Market.
Doris' gourmet fruitcake is the best fruitcake I ever ate. Don't think Christmas fruitcake. Doris makes her fruitcake with dried fruit (not candied) and with freshly-ground spelt, a historic Pennsylvania-Dutch grain in the wheat family.
Spelt is a heritage grain, one of those ancient, non-patented, non-engineered grains like einkorn, emmer, and amaranth.
Spelt is our most exceptional Pennsylvania Dutch heirloom grain. In Colonial Pennsylvania our English-speaking neighbors called it "German wheat" because we Pennsylania Germans grew so much of this grain. We always called it Dinkel, in the dialect.
Historically, around here, we would ship our regular wheat to Philadelphia markets to sell for the big bucks, and save the cheaper spelt wheat for ourselves. Because we were frugal and smart, both.
Spelt is higher in nutrients than regular wheat. Plus it makes better straw for horses and cows.
"Of all the grain foods, spelt defined the historic cookery of the Pennsylvania Dutch," as William Woys Weaver describes it, in his Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking.
For centuries, spelt flour gave Germany and Pennsylvania the galaxy's best gingerbread and best pretzels. Today Doris Gehman and her daughters continue that tradition.
Spelt really is a Pennsylvania Dutch claim to gourmet grain fame.