Weed Academy: Recycle wild herbs from nature
The chef Peter Franke runs a herb factory and sells the dried flowers and leaves in his “Un-Kraut-Shop”. (Photo: Patrick Pleul / dpa-Zentralbild / ZB)
Wild herbs are often wrongly labeled as weeds
The term weeds causes sheer horror among many hobby gardeners. Strictly speaking, however, the term is an “non-concept” because it implies that weeds are not herbs. Instead, you will find many healthy and usable plants among the weeds. A “weed specialist” gives a few examples.'
Weeds are not a nuisance for Peter Franke, they are tasty and healthy. Even harvesting in the morning dew keeps the 66-year-old fit. The Wahl-Spreewälder collects and presents its enjoyment capital in a vaulted cellar.
Visit to the "Un-Kraut-Shop"
Peter Franke sits in front of his "Un-Kraut-Laden" in the hotel "Zum Stern" in Werben (Spree-Neisse) in the middle of a mountain of elder branches and cuts off the aromatic, fragrant white flowers. His day begins at 6 a.m. by collecting flowers, herbs and leaves. “You have to harvest them in the morning dew, then they'll stay fresh for processing,” the 66-year-old knows and brings a large bowl of flowers to his vaulted cellar shop.
An unexpected, concentrated aromatherapy awaits the visitor there: linden blossoms, cornflowers and lilacs are in dozens of paper sacks. Spicy notes come from sage, ribwort or yarrow. The meadow herbs hang dried and tied on shelves. Dried blueberries, juniper berries and aronia berries are waiting to be processed. Bottles with syrup, oils, vinegar, leaf mixtures for tea or bath additives complete the range. There does not seem to be any “weeds” that the trained chef is not familiar with.
Giersch is a vitamin and mineral bomb
Franke's true love is for the most stubborn weeds: the groundgrass, which many gardeners know as a plague that can hardly be controlled, is a vitamin and mineral bomb. ! Better to eat than to exterminate, ”is his motto. Giersch tastes like parsley and carrot, belongs in every herb seasoning mix and is popularly known as "Zipperleinkraut". It helps against rheumatism, gout and osteoarthritis, as well as bladder infections and sunburn, says the 66-year-old, whose trademark is a light-colored straw hat with herbal decorations.
Traditional plant knowledge
The native Thuringian got his knowledge from his mother. "I grew up with it.There wasn't much to buy in the post-war years. That is why we mainly nourished ourselves from nature, ”Franke recalls. It started in early spring with the first herbs, in April and May delicate birch leaves were added and in autumn the harvest ended with rose hips. The knowledge from childhood also accompanied him later, says Franke. But it was only ten years ago that he fulfilled a dream with a herbal factory, according to the 66-year-old. 25 years ago he came to the Spreewald “because of love”.
Strengthen vital forces with wild herbs
“The national dish of the area is herbal quark with linseed oil. The main growing area for horseradish is in the Spreewald. By the way, there is no better antibiotic, ”says Franke. The Spreewald and his passion for herbs went well together. He wants to preserve the knowledge about the healing properties of these natural products. Several cookbooks with him as a co-author have already been published. The latest work on the green Spreewald pharmacy, which he wrote together with a pharmacist, is coming out soon. Health you can taste and food as therapy are Franke's latest credo, especially in times of the Corona, as he emphasizes. "Wild herbs strengthen our own vital forces, which we now urgently need."
Training in the "Weed Academy"
In his Spreewald cooking academy, the herb fan cooked with celebrities and colleagues. Urologists and other medical professionals visited his “weed academy”. Now he organizes seminars on the use of medicinal plants, processing and preservation or his coffee chat with dandelion coffee and herb wafers in the large hall of his hotel "Zum Stern".
The weed ambassador from the Spreewald
“Franke is a real ambassador for the Spreewald and its products. Fresh ingredients from the garden and from the field are in demand. And even weeds can be used to make tasty and healthy dishes, as he proves, ”emphasizes Birgit Kunkel, spokeswoman for Tourismus Marketing Brandenburg GmbH (TMB). Regionality and healthy food are becoming more and more important topics in tourism too.
Forgotten vegetables and herbs
"I am a happy person because I was allowed to try out a lot in my life," emphasizes Franke. Rediscovering old types of vegetables and herbs is simply exciting. "The Corona crisis has shown us how important it is to get our own economic cycles going," says the 66-year-old, who works with almost 20 agricultural producers in the Spreewald.
Insider tip Jerusalem artichoke
The herbalist swears by the healthy Jerusalem artichoke tuber, which he processes into chips. "No other tuber is so beneficial for the stomach and intestines." As a sugar substitute, Jerusalem artichoke is also suitable for diabetics.
Lienig Wildfruchtverarbeitung grows 100 hectares of the plant from the Zossen district of Dabendorf and processes it into baby food, nutritional supplements, vegetable juices and pet food. “Healthy vital substances are a real market. Franke hit the nerve of the times and brings it across very authentically, ”adds managing director Frank Lienig. Both are working together on a new "Un-Kraut-Schorle", which, according to Liebig, could become a new, authentic Spreewald product. (vb; source: Jeanette Bederke, dpa)
You can find further suggestions for the use of wild herbs in our “Medicinal Plants” category.