Did you know?
Double-baked traditional rusks can last for years – the Boer equivalent of the British ‘dog biscuit’.
Ask South Africans what their favourite road trip ‘grub’ is, and they’ll probably rave about biltong (jerky) and rusks.
A rusk is a large, dried biscuit excellent for dunking in hot drinks, and rusks are a well-loved South African food. In fact, the old Boer commandos of the South African War from 1899-1902 (formerly the Anglo Boer War) travelled with biltong, rusks and coffee grounds in their saddle bags as they traversed the country on horseback.
Biltong is our favourite dried meat. Rusks are double-baked biscuits that taste delicious when dunked in coffee. And Ouma Rusks are legendary, in fact they have so much history that they have become part of South Africa’s culinary heritage.
It all goes back to the Great Depression of 1939 and the little Eastern Cape town of Molteno. The local dominee or pastor offered the women in his congregation a half-crown (two shillings and sixpence) each if they would use the money and their abilities to generate more profits for their families.
One woman, Elizabeth Ann Greyvenstyn (locally known as ‘Ouma Nannie’) from Friedenheim Farm, bought ingredients and used a family recipe to make rusks. When she offered them for sale at the next church bazaar, they sold out within minutes – and the orders began pouring in.
Pretty soon, you’d find Ouma Nannie’s rusks on sale at rugby games, more church gatherings and other social occasions. Her son took the rusks on a road trip to test the national market and came back with a pile of orders. The family turned their barn into the country’s first rusk factory, with home-made rusk dryers and extra clay ovens.
Ouma Rusks are still being lovingly baked at Friedenheim Farm, and the legendary business has put Molteno on the map. It’s the town’s most important industry, and the biggest employer within a radius of 150km.
The real Ouma Nannie Greyvenstyn remained involved with the business for a long time – she passed away in 1989 at the age of 98. But her delicious rusks live on, every morning, with that first cup of coffee ...
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Ouma Rusks Factory, Molteno
Tel: +27 (0) 45 967 0152
Molteno Guest House
Tel: +27 (0) 82 825 9139 or +27 (0) 82 558 7614
How to get here
Molteno lies on the R56 in the northern sector of the Eastern Cape, between Steynsburg and Dordrecht. It also lies approximately 40km west of the N6 route.
Best time to visit
Molteno has cold winters, typically with snow, and great summer colours, making it a year-round destination. However, watch out for cold weather and snow warnings during the mid-winter months of June and July.
Around the area
You can do day trips in this area to Burgersdorp, Middelburg, Dordrecht and Aliwal North. The Molteno Guest House also offers special day trips to see the natural surroundings at R300 per person.
Tours to do
If you want to tour the Ouma Rusk factory outside Molteno, phone ahead and make arrangements.
If you drive yourself, you get the chance to take the interesting backroads in the Stormberg area and explore the region.
What will it cost
There is no charge for visiting the Ouma Rusks factory; local B&Bs will cost approximately R350 per person per night.
Length of stay
The local Molteno Guest House is a good place to stay the night. It's a pleasant stopover on your road trip through the area.
What to pack
Always pack something warm for the mountains as the weather can change in an instant.
What to eat
Ouma Rusks are available throughout South Africa and in most shops for South African expatriates overseas. Look for them on supermarket shelves and take them along on your road trips through South Africa.
You're in an agricultural area where there are occasionally country festivals on offer.
A tin or box of Ouma Rusks is available at most supermarkets in South Africa.