Fastnachts are a York County delicacy. But how are Fastnachts different from doughnuts?

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Fastnachts (fost-nokts) await transport to customers at the Stewartstown, Pa., Senior Center on Fastnaucht Day. (See additional York Daily Record/Sunday News photos below.) Background posts: Classes offer rare op to learn Pennsylvania Dutch – Part II and PS Harrisburg grad school: ‘Set my feet even more firmly on the path into the world of Fraktur’ and Noted Pennsylvania German art historian will be missed.

In a York Daily Record/Sunday News story today (2/24/09), writer Barb Krebs answered two basic questions about Fastnachts, that annual Pennsylvania Dutch dish that some find hard to digest:

Question 1: What is a Fastnacht, in the first place?

Answer: A Fastnacht is a yeast-raised potato pastry that is deep fried like a doughnut. The name fastnacht is German for “fast night,” and the tradition of making them began with the Pennsylvania Dutch as a way to use up the lard, sugar, fat and butter that are forbidden during Lent.

Question 2: What makes a fastnacht different from a regular doughnut? …


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Fastnachts are fried at the Stewartstown Senior Center.
A. “I think it’s the potatoes,” Hazel Bisker of New Park told Barb Krebs. A true fastnacht recipe includes mashed potatoes.
Also of interest:
All posts on the Pennsylvania Dutch from the start.
Agricultural fair, Bricker’s fries, Chicken corn soup: The ABCs of the ‘ABCs of York County’.
Two York County institutions – chicken corn soup and Harleys – meet up in Chanceford Township
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Many churches in York County also make Fastnachts. Here, Mary Hoover sets out hot fastnachts at Pleasureville United Methodist Church in Springettsbury Township several years ago.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.

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