Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rye Straw Basket

One of the three popular styles of baskets in old Amana was the coiled reed basket thought to have been brought in and made in Amana as well. It is one of the hardest baskets to find in the area and at sales mainly because they were very fragile. In the communal era prior to 1932, these baskets were dusted with cracked wheat flour and used to raise bread dough in them. Once the dough had risen, the baker slid the dough out of the basket and onto a bread paddle from which it slid into an open hearth oven and baked. Some loaves were 3-5 pounds! The first baker to make these baskets was William F. Zuber (1886-1960). He would collect slough or rye grass grown by the farm, tie it in bundles, and store them in the woodshed until needed.  String and binder cane held the basket coils together in a figure eight pattern. These were also used commercially in Upper South Amana Bakery. Some of these baskets were round, some oval and all very prized.

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