German Cuisine Recipes with Herbs

Nettle spaetzle. Wildflower torte. Dandelion ice cream. The cuisine is alive in southern Germany's Kaiserstuhl region. Discover four of our favorite German cuisine recipes.

| December/January 2000

  • In this extreme southwest region of Germany, wild herbs are so important, the local tourist office helps organize hikes to visit the plants.
  • A packed shelf of potpourris and herbal honeys at Europe’s largest herb store, the Burkheimer Kräuterhof.
  • Shoppers flock to Munich’s Viktualienmarkt for local herbs and flowers.
  • Outside of Breuer’s Rudesheimer Schloss, a metalwork maiden pays tribute to the region’s world-renowned wine industry.

German cuisine may not be the first thing that comes to mind when the subject is cooking with herbal flavors, but that’s an outdated stereotype. Germans use—and have long used—copious amounts of herbs in everyday meals, from herb tea with breakfast to the parsley-graced potatoes of a simple peasant dinner.

I was born in Stuttgart, and my parents emigrated to the United States when I was seven. When I was a little girl, herbs were featured prominently in the everyday life of my family. Mornings often started with peppermint tea. My grandmother usually had more than twenty different herb teas in her cupboard (many of which tasted quite awful and which she forced down me if I had a cold or the flu). On the windowsill, my mother always kept a small pot of chives, which she had me cut at dinnertime. My cousin’s garden was filled with parsley, chives, and fennel. Even simple, robust meals contained herbs. Caraway and fennel seeds flecked the breads we had for lunch, and parsley and chives added their flavors to a salad or vegetable every night.

German Cuisine Recipes

Frankfurt Grne Sosse
Kaiserstuhl Wildflower Torte
Wildsulze (Jellied Game)
Fresh Strawberries in Sweet Woodruff Syrup 

An Herbal Homecoming

In May 2000, I returned to Germany to uncover my family’s roots. For an herb lover visiting Germany, May is a splendid time. Meadows are in flower, open-air markets parade their best produce, and restaurants everywhere feature asparagus and herbs. We found the most unusual herb dishes in the Kaiserstuhl region, where neighboring France influences the cuisine.



In the village of Burkheim, near the Black Forest, I visited Europe’s largest herb store, the Burkheimer Kräuterhof, which sells 1,500 herbs and herbal products. Outside the front door grow herbs used in teas, dyes, medicines, and cooking, labeled with both German and Latin names.

Peter Schmidt, the owner, sells fresh herbs every Saturday at the market in Freibourg. He also markets products worldwide, counting customers from Japan and New Zealand among his clientele. His warehouse contains rows of culinary and medicinal herb products, including a traditional diuretic from nearby Alsace: cherry stems.



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