Reliving Memories with an Old Fashioned Vinegar Taffy Recipe
When I was growing up, we lived next door to the sweetest lady. We all called her Grandma Della. She really was like a grandma to all nine of us crazy Nelson kids. It was such a shock to me to grow up and learn she wasn’t really my Grandma by relation. Just a great neighbor and family friend that all us kids adopted to be a grandma. And it wasn’t just our family that were her adopted Grandkids. She was known as Grandma Della by all the kids in our little community.
One of my favorite memories as a kid was always visiting Grandma Della. She always had the best stories to tell, and delicious treats! The one treat she was most known for in our entire community was her old fashioned Vinegar taffy. I’m telling you this vinegar taffy recipe was famous!
Every Halloween kids would visit her house first just for the Vinegar Taffy. And every Christmas we’d get a plate full of these coveted goodies!
Grandma Della passed away a number of years ago. She has been greatly missed. She left behind such an amazing legacy with her kindness, love and compassion. It is amazing how one can touch so many and make such a powerful impact on their lives. And she was definitely one of those women who impacted so many for good.
It amazes me how a simple flavor can bring back a flood of memories. The last time I was home visiting, I went through my Mom’s recipe cupboards to find some of my favorite recipes from growing up and I stumbled upon Grandma Della’s Old Fashioned Vinegar Taffy recipe. I knew instantly I had to bring this tradition to my family.
So we got started over Christmas Holiday making the Vinegar Taffy. The recipe is quite simple and so easy to get ready.
Prepare the sugar, cream of tartar, vinegar and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil until it reaches the hard ball stage (250 degrees F). Remove from the heat and then add in the butter.
Then you will spray a dish with a little coconut oil or lightly grease it. Just so it doesn’t stick to the plate/dish. And pour in the taffy mixture. And then allow it to cool until you can manipulate it with your hands without it burning.
Next is the part that begins to bring back the memories. The taffy pulling!
Wash your hands well. Then lightly butter them to prevent the taffy from sticking.
I set up a station for each kid and pulled off a smaller section of the taffy for them each to pull.
Then you start pulling the taffy.
Pull from the center out. Then put the ends together and pull from the enter out again.
Just keep pulling. Just keep Pulling (I think you can think up a song for this phrase right?)
Pull the taffy until it is light in color and stiff. The whiter the better. This could take anywhere from 15 minutes to 60 minutes depending on how many people you have pulling the taffy and how much you each are working with.
A photo posted by Amber Edwards (@jadelouisedesigns) on
This was a great activity with the kids, as I gave each one their own little section to pull. As we pulled we talked and I told them stories about Grandma Della and the history of the Old Fashioned Vinegar Taffy and what it has meant to our family.
Next shape into a nice long rope. And cut with greased scissors into 1″ pieces.
Then wrap up in wax paper.
As we pulled, the memories of sitting in Grandma Della’s kitchen helping her to pull taffy as she told stories of when she was a little girl came flooding back to me in such a rush. I could remember the smells, the sounds, the colors. I could remember the love emanating from Grandma Della.
And then when I tasted my first bite of Grandma Della’s Vinegar Taffy, it was like I was transported back in time. It’s amazing what a little flavor associated with great memories can do.
And while mine doesn’t look as beautiful as Grandma Della’s vinegar taffy did (she has years more practice getting it to look just right) the flavor was exactly the same! And I may have been a bit emotional for the duration. But it was so worth it, having that little piece of Grandma Della back in my life again.
I think this will definitely be a new family tradition; to make Grandma Della’s Vinegar Taffy near Christmas to share with friends and family and build our own memories around for my own kids. And it will give me a great time to remember back on such an amazing woman who had such a powerful impact on my life.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup White distilled vinegar (could substitute apple cider if needed)
- pinch of salt
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- Combine all ingredients except butter in a pan.
- Bring to boil
- Boil until it reaches the hard ball stage (~250 degrees f)
- Remove from heat and add butter
- Lightly Grease a platter
- Pour the Taffy onto the platter and allow to cool until you can handle without burning your hands.
- Wash your hands
- Apply a thin layer of butter to your hands
- Begin to pull the taffy
- Pull until it is light in color and stiff (15-60 minutes)
- Roll into a rope
- Cut into 1" pieces
- Wrap in wax paper squares