We are on a short home assignment. We are staying with family and so between visits with churches and supporters we are able to enjoy some time with family.
Today our outing was to Uncle Henry's Handmade Pretzels for a factory tour. The average American eats about two pounds of pretzels a year and the average Pennsylvanian eats 12 pounds a year. Some of that is the German roots and then combined with that is the fact that there are numerous companies here making pretzels.
My mom asked me what I was expecting and I told her that I thought it would be in the back of a barn. My guess was close.
We walked in and were at the packaging department. There was no fancy facilities or reception area. The girl came over and began the tour. The first thing we saw was the dough machine. One hundred pounds of flour, yeast, sourdough, water, salt, and soda. One batch makes 2000 pretzels. The day shift makes 16 batches. The evening shift makes 11 batches.
I think one of the most interesting things in the factory was this machine. The lady would knead the dough to get the air out and then put a tube through and turn it and it was cut the tube to the size of piece for each pretzel. The factory was not that high tech.
Uncle Henry's pretzels are twisted by hand. There are about 10 ladies there twisting the pretzels. I asked if there were other pretzels companies that twist the pretzels by hand. She told me that there are two other companies that she knows. The training is three months. That surprised me a bit. They need to be doing about 11 pretzels per minute.
Each tray holds about 90 pretzels. These are formed and then they get a soda bath which gives them the colour.
The salt is put on the peel and then the pretzels are placed on that to put them in the oven. I had made soft pretzels at home. Soft pretzels bake at 400F as that is about as hot as my oven goes. The oven is 600F so that is probably how they can make hard pretzels. The pretzels are only in there for about seven minutes.
After baking the pretzels are cooled for about an hour.
Then they are packed in bags and they cool in front of a fan.
The factory is small with maybe 15 people working there.
I thought this was an interesting sign. There is one
It was a fun outing and factory tour. Uncle Henry's has been make pretzels since 1983. I was told that they ship worldwide.
We got a free pretzels. It was hot, just out of the oven.
We bought a bag to eat. We need to eat our 12 pounds for the year in a month which I don't think we will really do but we are enjoying pretzels.