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[graphic header] The Amana Colonies: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary of a unique historic communal society in eastern Iowa

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[Photo]
Front View of Homestead Meat Shop and Smokehouse
Photograph by Shannon Bell

The Homestead Meat Shop and Smokehouse was built around 1868, and was used to process meat for the several communal kitchens in the village of Homestead. Most butchering was done in the fall and winter, and meat was smoked in the smokehouse in order to preserve it. A small brick building to the west of the meat market is the last remaining drying house in the Amana Colonies. Here, the women from the kitchen houses would place beans and fruit on racks to be dried by the heat from a small oven in the room. The house next door to the Homestead Meat Market at the time of the 1932 reorganization was occupied by the manager, August Lipman.

[historic photo]
Homestead Meat Market c.1940
Photograph courtesy of the Amana Heritage Society

Many Amana Colony recipes came from the German province of Westphalia, famed for its method for curing and smoking of fine hams to a distinctive flavor. These recipes and "trade secrets" have been handed down from generation to generation and remain unchanged today. Amana ham, bacon and Kasseler Rippchen (smoked pork chops) are carefully selected from prime Iowa corn-fed pigs. They are well-trimmed, sugar cured and well-smoked in the century-old smoke tower over hickory embers. Unlike hastened modern commercial processes, Amana bacon still takes nearly a month to prepare, and other Old World recipes can be found in their many other products still offered today. Butcher shops and smoking towers were substantial buildings in the Amana villages, and were usually simple gabled buildings, most built of brick and stone. Each village also had a blacksmith shop, a carpenter shop, a cabinet shop, a wagon shop, a tailor shop, a bakery, a broom shop, a basket shop, a cobbler's shop, at least one ice house, a harness shop and an apiary.

The Homestead Meat Shop and Smokehouse, now Henry's Village Market, is located at 4119 V St., in Homestead. It has been remodeled many times through the years, but the original smoke tower and storage areas are still used, and Amana products, including meat products, are still sold here, Monday-Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm, Saturday 8:30am to 5:00pm. Open Sundays May-October. Call 319-622-3931 or visit the website for further information.

 

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