A somewhat problematic group of categories for this KENTUCKY CRAFTS encyclopedia are the many sorts of skilled handwork creations of FOODS and BEVERAGES.  The developer of this site has deliberately limited the breadth of this topic; one paramount reason is the ubiquity of foodways — everyone eats, and in a sense, everyone cooks!

Sometimes the term "culinary arts" is used to emphasize the aesthetic or affecting dimension of foods.  Unlike most of the products conventionally thought of as the results of "craftsmanship," foods do not endure in the same way that ceramics, baskets, or fiber art goods typically do, and indeed are generally consumed by their creators, or by people with whom their creators have family, neighborhood, or regional connections. 


Even when homemade foods are offered for sale to the public, or to strangers, they are almost always distributed locally or in personally-mediated markets and fairs.  Still, a case can be made that many aspects of both traditional and artistic/modern foodways in Kentucky are indeed crafts.  


     Foods produced through fermentation (bread, beer, wine, cheese) are especially likely to be created on a small scale in home situations; and are in some cases truly thought to represent the skills and artistry of families, locales, or regions within Kentucky.  

A FEW selected examples:

Cake/Cookie Decoration



Beef Jerky

Beer cheese

Bourbon balls 


"Craft Beer"

Craft breweries, also called "microbreweries," are a relatively recent development since the 1970s. The name reflects an intended contrast to the huge industrial breweries that dominate national sales and distribution of beer. They emphasize various brewing techniques and new flavors, but like some products of the big dominant breweries, they are also likely to be marketed in ways that deserve the term "craftwashing."

Derby Pie®

The "original" Derby Pie was created in 1954, and is still offered by the descendants of the originator, George Kern. By 1960, they had sold over 1000 pies, and over 10,000 by 1977.  Though the name "Derby Pie" is a registered trademark,  today many home cooks in and around Kentucky create their own versions of this walnut+chocolate pie.  


Hot Brown

An open-faced sandwich with bread and turkey covered in cheesy mornay sauce, topped with bacon and tomato then toasted in the broiler and served hot.

Jams and Jellies

Maple Syrup


Pickled Vegetables

Pork Rinds

Soap (based on animal fats)

Sorghum (Sorghum syrup is made from the green juice of the sorghum plant, which is extracted from the crushed stalks and then heated to steam off the excess water, leaving the syrup behind.) 


A moist cornmeal-based dish prevalent in parts of the Southern United States.  Since 1997, Berea, Kentucky, has been home to an annual Spoonbread Festival held in September. 

Woodford Pudding

The recipe first appeared in the publication Housekeeping in the Bluegrass in 1875. Woodford Pudding is a spongy pudding spiced with cinnamon and similar to an English jam pudding. Though many variations exist, traditionally Woodford Pudding is made with blackberry jam.  
decorated cookies


Pages 48-49 offer a specific and important treatise on food crafts, pointing out the creation of special food-related craft objects, like bread baskets, and also noting that the manual skills of foods and foodstuff preparation embrace the important crafting dialectic between innovation and tradition.


"I think of cooking as akin to woodworking. There is a right way to use certain woodworking tools. You have to understand the grain of the wood, the tools, and joinery if you’re going to be in construction or make shoes or whatever it is.... Baking bread is a craft, it’s not an art. There are rules and things to know. Yeast behaves certain ways under certain conditions. You can’t make it up. They’re facts. So I would say cooking is a craft and so you have to learn the craft."