Cooking Peppernuts is Seniors Center’s Biggest Fundraiser and Creates Friendships Along the Way

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One tradition of Halstead Senior Citizens Center’s biggest fundraiser is the cooking of peppercorns.

“We have gained 500 pounds before… we have a target of 600 pounds this year. Hopefully we will generate more income,” said Amy Johnson, director of the Halstead Senior Center.

Cooking “Peppernuts” has been something the Centre’s kitchen has been doing since 1977 and averages around $ 5,000. Outside of grants, the Halstead Senior Center relies on fundraisers, especially this one.

“Plus… it’s something women love to get together. They look forward to doing it every year,” Johnson added.

Every Monday and Friday starting in September, seven women bake more than pepper nuts at the Halstead Senior Citizens Center.

“We’re having a great time… all together… and that makes it easier. If you have someone who doesn’t fit in or is cranky… We don’t tolerate that very well…., Mary Jo Hall, a bell pepper pastry chef, shared with a laugh.

Hall says their peppercorns have toured the United States.

“We recently had a person from Texas bought 15 or 16 books to give out,” Hall added.

“One cup of butter… 4 cups of brown sugar and four eggs right now,” another baker shared while stirring.

With an array of spices, soda and flour, this German cookie is the treat it is. The whole tastes like a blend of gingerbread, snickerdoodle and licorice flavors and it’s what people look forward to buying year after year.

Every 7 minutes for 4.5 hours, twice a week, punnets of peppers come out of the ovens.

“Now this afternoon we’ll have a table to play dominoes and a table in this corner to play bridge… So we’re trying to stay fairly active,” Hall said of the activities of the Senior Center.

Staff say they will sell peppercorns until they run out. You can stop by the Center anytime between 9 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday to pick up a bag.

They are nine dollars for a pound and five dollars for a half pound.

The Halstead Senior Citizen’s Center is located at 523 Poplar Street in Halstead.


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