Discover Germany, Issue 87, November 2021

Page 42

Discover Germany  |  Travel Feature  |  Foraging for Superfood – A hike through the Alps


FORAGING FOR SUPERFOOD – A HIKE THROUGH THE ALPS Elderberry, rosehip and barberry thrive bountifully on the slopes of the Swiss Aletsch Arena. The plentiful wild bushes are a veritable grocery store and pharmacy all in one: in autumn, their fruits can be used to make fine jams, juices or even spaghetti sauce – full of vitamins and other health benefits. Isabella Albrecht, from the Pro Natura Centre Aletsch, shares her favourite places for foraging on a wonderful hike through the Valais autumn landscape. (And as an aside: many of these treasures may also be found in your area, too!) TEXT: C.C. SCHMID, TRANSLATION: NANE STEINHOFF

We have to warn you: once you have started, you soon will not be able to go past a rosehip hedge, an elderberry bush or a hawthorn without picking at least a handful of fruit or a few leaves. Walks can sometimes drag on... but when you get off the cable car in RiedMörel on a late September morning and see the sun, you will wish that this day would last forever. The air carries that faint breath of early autumn, but otherwise, here in Valais, the late summer is still in full swing on the southern slopes as you look down into the valley of the young Rhone. Isabella Albrecht makes an appearance along with a basket and walking stick and one wonders what the cheerful and youthful-looking biologist might want to do with the latter. She laughs and explains: “If a 42  |  Issue 87  |  November 2021

branch that I want to pick something from is out of reach, I’ll bring it closer with the stick.” We start walking, down a wide staircase, past the school building towards the church. On the other side of the valley, the imposing peaks of the Valais mountains scratch the deep blue

Photo: Alban Albrecht

sky, while Isabella raves about the intense aroma of the wild fruits and about having these nutrient- and vitamin-rich treasures on your doorstep. She speaks almost reverently about this gift that nature blesses us with every year – and we are already standing in front of an old stable made of sun-burned larch wood, in front of which a beautiful elderberry bush grows. The panicles, which in spring still bore delicate, white flowers (the scent of which is now in the form of a delicious syrup on Isabella’s storage shelf), hang full of deep-black berries. “They are bursting with vitamin C and dark plant pigments and thus give the immune system a lot of support,” says Isabella. “If children have a lot of colds, they should get a spoonful of juice every day in winter.” We carefully pick a few panicles – never too many from one bush – and continue walking. As the asphalt road turns into a narrow path, we come across the first whitebeam tree, whose leaves, with their grey-felt undersides, shine in the sun. Its fruits are tiny apples, which are just one centimetre in diameter, and Isabella likes to cook them with a little apple juice to make a puree that she later passes through