Everything about elderberry – with recipe for elderflower syrup

Why is the elderberry a little miracle? Because it is versatile –  and a useful, medicinal and ornamental plant that everyone knows!

From elderberry you can conjure a variety of culinary delights, whether from flowers or berries. Elderberry, elderberry syrup, holster grapes, jam, cookbook, liqueur, flower jelly or the dried flowers as a remedy.

The most popular is probably the “Holersirup” the elderflower syrup and the elderflower tea. The flowers contain flavonoids and essential oils. A glass of elder flower syrup mixed with water is a refreshing summer drink, the tea works against feverish colds and relieves irritating cough.

Elderberry shrubs are excellent pollen suppliers for wild bees as well as honeybees, beetles and insects. Overall, the are a valuable nursery for many species of birds and mammals – just a small miracle!

There are many elderflower recipes – today I present you my recipe, handed down by my grandmother:

Ingredients for 3 liters of elderflower syrup (“Holersaft”)

2 l of water, 16 elderflowers, 10 dag of citric acid, 2.5 kg of sugar, 1 organic lemon, possibly mint or lemon balm

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For the preparation of the elderflower juice, collect the elderflowers and the lemon balm if possible in sunshine, as the heat can help to fully develop the aroma! Do not wash the flowers.

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Put flowers, mint, a sliced organic lemon and water in a bowl and cover with a cloth. Leave to stand for 24 hours.

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After 24 hours, drain everything through a linen cloth, and squeeze the mass (flowers, mint, lemon) in the cloth.

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Add the sugar and the citric acid to the now slightly yellowish, fragrant liquid and stir again and again until the sugar  dissolves completely.

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After this step, bottle the syrup is bottled.

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If you want, you can also add untreated lavender flowers or rose petals. What a delicious, refreshing summer drink!

You finde more about drinking and eating in Tyrol here.

 

Tyrolean Bacon Dumplings – Make your own ‘Speckknödel’ with this recipe (and photos)

They’re round, delicious and on a plate right in front of us: original Tyrolean bacon dumplings. Our colleague Claudia, a passionate and experienced ‘dumpling maker’, shows us how to prepare real ‘Tiroler Speckknödel’ at our weekly Tyrolean Treats Cooking Class.

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Claudia is a dumpling expert. (c)hall-wattens.at

Quality ingredients are key. It’s best to opt for organic and regional products. If you don’t buy them directly from a farmer, there are many supermarkets that now offer these products.

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Fresh organic eggs from a farmer. (c)hall-wattens.at

You need the following ingredients for Tyrolean bacon dumplings for four persons:

280 g dumpling bread (or 6 stale bread rolls)
1/4 l milk
2 eggs
100 g very finely chopped speck (smoked pork belly)
1 finely chopped onion
1 TBS chopped parsley
40 g butter
Pinch of salt
Some flour

Preparation:

  1. Place diced bread into a bowl and season with salt. Beat the milk and eggs together and pour over the bread. Leave to absorb for half an hour.
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Combine the bread and eggs. (c)hall-wattens.at

  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onions, add the pork belly and fry until browned. Add onions, pork belly and chopped parsley to the bread mixture.
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Fry the speck (pork belly) and onion in a pan. (c)hall-wattens.at

 

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Fresh parsley is essential to bacon dumplings. (c)hall-wattens.at

  1. Season with salt and mix all the ingredients well. Add a little flour if needed to make the dough combine.
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Mix in all the ingredients. (c)hall-wattens.at

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Press the dough together so that the dumplings stay round when cooked. (c)hall-wattens.at

  1.  With wet hands form the dumplings into 8-12 uniform balls, roll well.

In a saucepan bring some salted water to a low simmer and carefully add the dumplings. Cook for approx. 12 minutes. (Make sure the water does not boil otherwise the dumplings will fall apart.

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Claudia’s tip:

‘I use a steamer insert and gently steam dumplings over simmering water so they don’t fall apart.’

 

Good dumplings immediately float to the surface of soup. Dumplings taste best if they’re served as soon as they’re cooked.

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A delicacy: Tyrolean bacon dumplings in soup. (c)hall-wattens.at

According to an old custom, you eat your first dumpling in soup, the second with sauerkraut or autumn turnips, the third with preserved foods or pork dishes and the fourth with salad. If you’ve got space for more, you start from the beginning again. Cress salad and lamb’s lettuce also go well with dumplings.

Here are a few tips from Tyrol’s master dumpling maker Maria Drewes (from her classic cookery book Tiroler Küche:

  • Dry dumpling bread needs more liquid and should be left longer to absorb the liquid.
  • One bread roll is equivalent to approx. 40 grams of dry dumpling bread.
  • You normally shape dumpling dough into balls with wet hands or with a spoon and a wet hand.
  • Some dumplings can also be rolled in a little flour so that they don’t fall apart when cooked.
  • Cook the dumplings in a wide pan and don’t place them too close together so that they have plenty of space to grow in size and keep their shape.

 

Get skiing …. on Mount Glungezer!

Powder snow and sunshine – what more do you need for a perfect day’s skiing? Glungezer has always been my mountain right from when I was a kid.

The lift might well be 50 years old but like a true and reliable friend, it carries me up to 2,300 metres (7,500 ft.) above sea level without complaint. And there’s no greater pleasure than the downhill run. The perfectly groomed natural snow pistes on Glungezer are legendary.

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I look down from Schartenkogel: the view of Voldertal valley and the many mountain peaks of the Tux Alps never ceases to fill me with awe and with wonder.

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Superb downhill runs lie below and a glance up to the 2,677-metre (8,782-ft.) summit above makes me want to click my boots into my touring bindings and walk up to the top – ‘just’ 300 metres (984 ft.) in elevation gain lie between me and the peak.

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Then there’s Kalte Kuchl – I don’t think there’s a steeper T-bar anywhere else in the world! It always makes me a bit nervous, but that’s probably just because of childhood memories. However, the piste down is my insider tip!

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You soon get past the steep stretch anyway, and then you can soak up the winter sun. Absolutely splendid!

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And to round off a perfect day’s skiing, I stop off at the alpine hut for a drink and delicious snack. Now what more can your heart desire?

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„Und wann der Schnee staubt und wann die Sunn’ scheint, dann hob’ i ollas Glück in mir vereint. I steh’ am Gipfel schau’ obe ins Tal. A jeder is glücklich, a jeder fühlt sich wohl.“ 🙂

(Wolfang Ambros/„Schifoan“, famous Austrian singer who sings about the pleasure of skiing)