Recipes & hiking tip: Spring in the Pucher Au

Spring Awakening in Salzburgerland

by Silja / 24. März 2022 / Culinary World / Nature
Bärlauch in der Pucher Au © Silja Parke - wildemöhre.at



Flower paradise, bumblebee pasture & delicious recipes from Salzburg spring herbs.

In spring, it is especially worthwhile to take a walk through the floodplain forest in Puch. At this time of year, when muted colours such as brown and ochre yellow still predominate everywhere, it is bathed in a sea of numerous blossoming and colourful spots. On warm days it just hums. In Salzburg"s floodplain forests, wild bees and honeybees now find their first food and the first butterflies are already on the move. For "wild herb culinary experts", too, the season starts now in spring with wild garlic, goutweed & Co. The first wild herbs have what it takes, they are concentrated nutrient packages and that is exactly what makes them so beneficial!

Rezepte © Silja Parke - wildemöhre.at



What exactly is an alluvial forest and where do you find it?



Species-rich communities along watercourses

Riparian forests extend along streams and rivers. In Puch, too, we find them along the banks of the Salzach, among other places. Riparian forests are characterised by periodic, temporary flooding and high groundwater levels. With every flood, nutrient salts and sediment are introduced into the soil, which makes the floodplains particularly nutrient-rich and fertile sites and ensures a great abundance of plants. Floodplain forests are also home to a variety of animals, including insects such as wild bees, butterflies, beetles and dragonflies, as well as various species of snails, mussels, crabs and amphibians, and many species of birds, including the kingfisher, the wagtail and the woodpecker. But badgers, beavers, roe deer, otters and brown hares are also at home in the alluvial forest.

Tip: you can find directions to the Pucher Au in the interactive tour map. Follow the Salzachuferweg or the Dorf-Runde on foot and the Tauernradweg along the Salzach to the town of Salzurg by bike.

Tauernradweg © TVB Puch

Richness in nutrients made the riparian forest a popular settlement area

Because of their richness in nutrients, riparian forests have always been considered good settlement areas. Clearing the forest made room for houses and pasture land. As the land was too wet for agriculture, at first only cattle were allowed to graze here. Later, people learned the technique of drainage and drained the meadows in order to cultivate them with less effort or to partially cultivate agriculture there.

Treppelweg Pucher Au © Silja Parke

"Treppelwege" along watercourses became important transport routes - such routes also led through Puch.

Rivers became important transport routes. In Puch, too, the name "Treppelweg" still bears witness to this in the Puch-Urstein landscape conservation area, on the banks of the Salzach. Treppelwege" are paths that were built directly on the banks of rivers and canals so that people and draught animals could pull barges (Plätten) upstream, this was called "treideln". Salt from Hallein in particular was shipped downstream, reloaded in Laufen and brought to Passau, where it was then loaded again onto larger ships for onward transport. On the way back, some of the boats were loaded with goods that were needed in Hallein and sold at the market.

Auwald Baum © Silja Parke

The zones of natural "true riparian forests

Riparian forests are among the most species-rich biotic communities in Central Europe. However, most riparian forests have disappeared due to drainage, construction and straightening and an associated lowering of the watercourse, or are no longer regularly flooded and are thus only the remains of natural riparian forests. Sites that are actually still periodically submerged in water are now among the habitats that are particularly valuable and worthy of protection. A natural floodplain consists of three zones:

  1. the wood-free floodplain, where grasses and herbaceous plants grow in the shore area.
  2. the softwood floodplain, found directly along the watercourse and gravel banks, and
  3. the hardwood floodplain, which lies a little further away from the watercourse and is flooded less frequently and for a shorter period than the softwood floodplain.

In the softwood floodplain we find fast-growing woody plants such as willows, poplars, black alder and grey alder (softwoods). In the hardwood floodplain, depending on the soil and the frequency and duration of flooding, we find different hardwood tree communities, typically ash, mountain elm, lime, pedunculate oak, maple and, in the shrub layer, hawthorn, hazel, honeysuckle, weeping cherry and elder. Nowadays, floodplains are also distribution corridors for neophytes, i.e. for plant species that have been introduced since 1492, which have established themselves here under human influence and were not native before. In the area of the Pucher floodplains we find, for example, goldenrod, glandular touch-me-not and professional weed along the riverside paths.

Waldspaziergang Puch © Silja Parke

The Pucher floodplains

The Pucher floodplains are no longer flooded as they were 70 to 80 years ago. In the past, the Salzach still meandered and had natural side arms. Nevertheless, we can still find many plants here that are typical of the floodplain forest, there is a lot to discover and the floodplain is a great recreational area!



The floodplain forest in spring - a very special spectacle

The floodplain forest is particularly beautiful in spring, when the first colourful flowers appear on a large area, because the undergrowth of the floodplain forest is colonised by the so-called "early-flowering plants". These include spring marigolds (Märzenbecher), snowdrops, liverworts, wood anemones and yellow and blue starflower. What they have in common is that they use the early part of the year to flower, and then fruit and reproduce before summer begins. This is possible because riparian forests are mainly composed of deciduous tree stands and as long as the foliage has not sprouted, there is enough light for the flowering plants on the riparian forest floor. As soon as the canopy of tree crowns closes in early summer, the early flowering plants have completed their flowering and fruiting period.

In the undergrowth, where less light now arrives, conditions are no longer good for them. That is why the early-flowering plants already retract their above-ground parts into their underground organs (rhizomes, bulbs) when the meadows are only just becoming colourful, and survive underground to be the first again next year to enchant us with their colourful flowers.

Not only we humans, but also insects enjoy the early blossoms, because they provide food at a time when the table is not yet so richly laid elsewhere. Wild bees, flies, beetles and also early-flying butterflies such as peacock butterflies, small foxes and lemon butterflies find nectar and pollen here, providing the pollination service that is so important for the generous plants. For us, the buzzing has a high recreational value and it is fun to watch the colourful activity on the flowers.

What is blooming in the Pucher Auwald?

But what exactly is growing here and what are all these spring messengers called? Click on the document and learn more about all the liverworts, woodland yellow stars, wood anemones and many more that you will find in the Pucher Au in the middle of the SalzburgerLand. Read about old farmers" wisdom, the healing powers of spring herbs and learn the difference between snowdrops and spring knotweed.



We live in a wild garlic paradise here!

Now that I have introduced you to many of the beautiful early-flowering plants in the floodplain forest, I would like to turn to a culinary delicacy that the floodplain gives us in spring. The savoury, leeky scent often wafts up your nose from the forest along footpaths and cycle paths, even before you"ve spotted the leek with your eyes. As you get closer, however, it can no longer be overlooked. Wide open spaces covered with small wild garlic leaves lie at the feet of herb lovers and culinary experts here in March, and this incredibly beautiful sight makes you think you"re in a wild garlic paradise. At least that"s how I felt when I came to Puch from Berlin, where I bought my wild garlic at the market every year, and had to step outside the front door to pick it. And it is a joy every year and makes me want to try out new wild garlic recipes again and again.

Bärlauchparadies © Silja Parke

One of our "top spring herbs" with many good properties.

Wild garlic (Allium ursinum) from the allium family is a top spring herb, both for health and for creative cooking. Spring herbs are often used for invigorating and relieving cures. They are young, tender, particularly rich in vitamins, minerals, cell-protecting flavonoids and chlorophyll. Characteristic of spring herbs is that they have a draining, diuretic, flushing, blood-cleansing and vitalising effect. While goutweed, which I will come to later, has the typical diuretic and draining effect, wild garlic strengthens the immune system, counteracts putrefaction and fermentation processes in the intestines and gets the tired metabolism going again after winter. In addition, it has a mild blood pressure-lowering effect and a positive influence on cholesterol. It also supports the absorption of iron. As long as wild garlic is available fresh in spring, we would do well to include it in our diet, because it loses its effect when dried.

Bärlauchkorb © Silja Parke

Which parts are edible and what to do with them

All parts of wild garlic are edible, from the leaf to the bud to the flower to the capsule fruit and the root, which is a bulb. There are numerous ways to use wild garlic fresh, for example in spreads, fillings, dressings, mayonnaises and salad dressings. The leaves are also a nice seasoning for pasta sauces and can be used to make wild garlic salt, wild garlic oil, wild garlic vinegar or fermented wild garlic. There are almost no limits to your imagination. The buds and fruits can be wonderfully pickled or steamed and the dried capsule fruits can be ground and used as a spice. Gastronomes, who are oriented towards the seasonality of ingredients and like to use local products, also spoil us with fine wild garlic dishes at this time.



Delicious wild garlic spring recipes

 You could fill a whole book with wild garlic, so here are just two wild garlic recipes for you, so as not to go beyond the scope of this article. :-D You can find more recipes as well as detailed descriptions of how to recognise wild garlic and possible poisonous confusions (lily of the valley, meadow saffron and spotted arum) on my Wilde Möhre Blog. More recipes are also included in my wild herb book „Ganz schön wild“.

Wild garlic crispy sticks

Great as a side dish in soups and salads.

Bärlauch Stagerl Rezept © Silja Parke - wildemöhre.at

Make wild garlic paste

Ingredients: 50 g wild garlic | Approx. 3-4 tbsp olive oil |

For the garnish: 1 egg and a little water | Linseed | A little salt

Puree 40 g wild garlic with approx. 3-4 tbsp olive oil and a little salt using a hand blender. Blend until you have a fine paste. You can also do this in a stone mortar. Cut the remaining 10 g wild garlic into fine strips and continue as described under "Preparing the dough".

Prepare the batter

Ingredients (approx. 8 sticks): 200 g cold water | 270 g wheat flour | 30 g wholemeal wheat flour | 10 g olive oil | 5 g fresh yeast | 5 g salt

  • Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, starting with the water, and knead. I use a food processor that kneads the dough on its own with a dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and no longer sticks, adding a little more flour if necessary. Kneading can take 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl with a lid, dust with a little flour, cover with the lid and leave to rise overnight (at least 12 hours) in the refrigerator.
  • The next day, leave the dough to rise again for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • In the meantime, prepare the wild garlic paste.
  • Roll out the dough to a rectangle about 5mm thick and cut it into strips about 4-5 cm wide. I got 8 strips out of it.
  • Spread the prepared wild garlic paste on the strips and sprinkle a few fresh wild garlic strips on top.
  • Twist the ends of the dough strips from both sides in opposite directions to the middle - creating a kind of cord - and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  • Leave to rise again for up to an hour, meanwhile preheat the oven to 190 degrees and place a pan with a little water at the very bottom of the oven (this trick will make the crust crispier).
  • Whisk the egg and water, season with 1 pinch of salt, brush the sticks with it and sprinkle with linseed or other seeds as desired.
  • Now bake the sticks (25-40 minutes) until they are crispy and have turned a nice brown colour. In my oven, this takes about 40 minutes. Enjoy the sticks fresh.
Ich weiß, die Teigzubereitung klingt zunächst etwas aufwändig, ist es aber wirklich nicht! Wenn ihr eine Küchenmaschine habt, knetet diese euch den Teig ganz alleine und ihr könnt in der Zwischenzeit was anderes machen, der Rest ist Zeit, Zeit, Zeit… Ein wirklich guter Teig braucht einfach ganz viel Zeit und ist dann wirklich gar kein Vergleich zu einem Teig, der in Eile gemacht wurde und auch nicht zu den meisten gekauften Broten. Ihr müsst den Teig einfach nur in Ruhe gehen lassen, das ist das ganze Geheimnis!

Bärlauch Stangerl Rezept © Silja Parke - wildemöhre.at



Hearty wild garlic mustard

Goes well with strong mountain cheese and salmon. Can be used wonderfully for dressings and barbecue sauces.

Bärlauch Senf Rezept © Silja Parke - wildemöhre.at

Ingredients for approx. 1 jar à 200 ml: 40 g yellow mustard seeds (spice rack) | 1 pinch turmeric | 60 ml lukewarm water | 50 ml white wine vinegar | 12 g honey
1 tbsp sunflower seed oil | Approx. ½ tsp salt | 1 tsp wild garlic paste (for preparation, see recipe "Crispy wild garlic sticks")

Preparation:

  • Grind the mustard seeds very finely in a high-performance blender at intervals (so that the seeds do not get hot).
  • Add turmeric and lukewarm water and leave to soak for 20 minutes.
  • Add vinegar, honey, sunflower seed oil and salt and heat in a small saucepan over a mild heat and stir for about 5 minutes.
  • Cool, stir in 1 tsp wild garlic paste at the end and fill into a sterile jar.
  • Store the mustard in the refrigerator.
TIP! If you have leftover wild garlic paste, you can also use it for seasoning, for example for pasta sauces or salad dressings.



Goutweed & Lesser Celandine

Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) is "the goutweed" par excellence.

Goutweed is a herb that is often found in the floodplain forest and is also one of the "top spring herbs". Tender green leaves can now be found on the riparian forest floor, which unfold in an aesthetically pleasing way. Many know goutweed as a rampant herb from the garden, but it is not "the weed" that many think it is. It is an ancient medicinal herb that was already known in antiquity and is full of vitamin C, minerals and flavonoids. Goutweed has a blood-cleansing, diuretic, mild anti-inflammatory effect, supports the lymphatic system and is "the herb" when it comes to gout. Even the name refers to this use, as "podagraria" means nothing other than "gouty foot".

Folk medicine therefore recommends tea cures with goutweed with simultaneous external application by means of baths. For a purifying spring cure, drink 1 cup of tea 3 times a day for 2-4 weeks and supplement this with baths. Because of its positive effect on health, we would do well to include this herb in our diet. Goutweed has a fresh, spicy flavour, slightly reminiscent of parsley, and a scent all of its own.

Giersch © Sillja Parke - Wildemöhre.at

Attention! There is a risk of confusing goutweed with the poisonous leaves of the wood anemone. The "rule of thumb" for goutweed is "three-three-three": three leaflets, each leaflet is in turn three-part, the stem is three-sided. Possible confusion: Photo 2 Goutweed on the left, wood anemone on the right.

 Verwechslungsgefahr Giersch Buschwindroeschen silja-parke©


Preparation of yucca tea

Pour hot water over 1 teaspoon of dried or 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped herb and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, covered. Strain and enjoy in small sips.

Preparation goutweed bath

Chop 100 g fresh or 20 g dried goutweed and boil with one litre cold water. Cover and leave to infuse for 15 minutes, strain and add to the bath water for a full bath. The bath temperature should not exceed 38 degrees. Rest for ½ hour after the bath.



Scharbockskraut © Sillja Parke - Wildemöhre.at

Drive out the "lesser celandine"!

The lesser celandine (Ficaria verna), a buttercup, can now also be found in the floodplain forest. The term "scurvy" refers to scurvy. This vitamin deficiency disease, which used to be widespread, occurs when there is a lack of vitamin C in the diet for several months. Symptoms include exhaustion, fatigue, susceptibility to infections, gum shrinkage and bleeding, skin problems as well as joint inflammation and bone loss. The tender leaves of the lesser celandine used to be the first source of vitamin C after a winter of privation. As a buttercup, lesser celandine does contain the poisonous protoanemonin, but the content is so low before flowering that it can be eaten in small quantities. For example, the leaves can be added to salads, fillings, smoothies, etc. or simply put in spreads or on buttered bread. The leaves have a slightly hot and sour taste. From flowering onwards, the protoanemonin content in the plant increases and eating it can irritate the mucous membranes.



"Fit into spring" smoothie with goutweed & lesser celandine.

Provides a kick during a performance slump and replaces an entire meal.

Smothie © Silja Parke

Ingredients for 2 glasses: 1 handful of goutweed | 1 handful of lamb"s lettuce or postelein | 10 leaves of lesser celandine | A few leaves of mint | 1 ripe banana | 1 apple | 1 tsp honey | Some lemon zest | 1 tbsp lemon juice | 300 ml water | 1 glass crushed ice

Preparation: Blend all ingredients in a high-performance blender to a creamy smoothie, pour into glasses, decorate with herbs and flowers and enjoy.



Puch Urstein © TVB Puch

Beautiful springtime in the Tennengau region of Salzburg

I"m glad if I could inspire you a little bit for the Auwald in Puch with my contribution. Perhaps you will now simply walk through the Au with different eyes, discover new details or feel like entering the spheres of wild herb cuisine and experimenting with new tastes. I wish you wonderful, enjoyable and spring-like moments in the floodplain forest and a wonderful wild garlic season!

Yours sincerely, Silja



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