11 light German foods for the summer
Germany's cuisine is renowned for being heavy and meat-based - but that's not always the case. What do Germans typically eat in the summer? Here are some favorites.
Summer is 'Grill' season
Just like in many other countries, Germans love to barbecue, and anything can go on the grill. Sausages, of course, as well any kind of meat, along with vegetables and Turkish halloumi cheese, are among the most popular options. Many Germans stick to old-fashioned coal barbecues. In cities, grilling in public parks is common.
Add a little 'Krautsalat'
The word Kraut became a derogatory term to refer to Germans during the World Wars. Although "Kraut" itself means "herb," it is often used to refer to cabbage too - such as the popular German dish "Sauerkraut," which is finely cut, fermented cabbage, and "Krautsalat," coleslaw. Germans will dress it with vinegar instead of mayonnaise, and some people add apples and onions to the salad.
One potato option among many: 'Kartoffelsalat'
If the German word for potato, "Kartoffel," had been simpler, it could've well become the term soldiers used to describe Germans, too. There are probably as many potato salad recipes as families in Germany - and many people will strictly follow their mother's for the rest of their life. Instead of mayonnaise, some traditional recipes combine broth, vinegar and oil for dressing.
Another potato dish: 'Pellkartoffel mit Quark'
In the summer heat, no one feels like cooking an elaborate meal. That's why Germans came up with this favorite, based once again on the potato. To save work, "Pellkartoffeln" are potatoes boiled in the skins, removed by each diner before eating. They're served with "Quark" - a creamy dairy product similar to yogurt - that's combined with fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Simple, but addictive.
Salads are not just for rabbits: 'Fleischsalat'
Vegetarians, you can close your eyes now: Germans have managed to make meat the main ingredient of a SALAD - though many people use "meat salad" as a spread for bread, to be honest. Lyoner sausage, or baloney, is cut into strips and combined with mayonnaise or sour cream, pickles, onions and other spices. You have to trust your butcher to enjoy this.
Another challenge: 'Apfel-Matjes-Salat'
"Matjes" are pickled herrings, and although they're perhaps not to everyone's liking, they're cult along the northern German coast. In this traditional recipe, also called "Matjes nach Hausfrauenart," which means "housewife's style," the pickled fish is combined with diced onions, apples, dill and creamy dairy products. This refreshing summer dish is served with - no surprise - potatoes.
Creamy herbs: 'Frankfurter Grüner Sosse'
You might start recognizing a trend: Different German summer specialties involve a sauce that's served with potatoes - and, in this case, eggs. This traditional green sauce from the Frankfurt region celebrates the fresh herbs that are available during the summer. The sauce has its own festival and official season, opening on Maundy Thursday before Easter, called in German "Gründonnerstag."
The summer stew: 'Birne, Bohnen und Speck'
Pears, green beans and bacon: The name of this northern German dish is both a basic shopping list for what's needed in the recipe and a culinary poem for the taste buds. These three ingredients are cooked into a comforting stew that's salty and sweet, healthy yet with a nice touch of fat. The pears are of a variety that remains firm when cooked - available from July to September.
Competing stars of the summer: 'Beeren'
Some Germans could probably skip the main course and simply stick to dessert all summer, as it is the season of regional fresh berries ("Beeren") and fruit ("Früchte" or "Obst"). Favorites include strawberries ("Erdbeeren"), red currant berries ("Johannisbeeren"), cherries ("Kirschen"), blueberries ("Heidelbeeren") and apricots ("Aprikosen").
'Zwetschgen': Not all plums are equal
Another fruit that's typically used in Germany to make amazing cakes is the plum. But not just any kind of plum - one with a strange, untranslatable name: the "Zwetschge." It is similar to the damson plum, but still a distinct variety. This can be confusing for foreigners. Zwetschgen are small and oval, while "Pflaumen" (the general term for plums) are the round ones.
The summertime staple: 'Rote Grütze'
If you start craving "rote Grütze," then you've really adopted German food culture. Its literal translation is "red grits," but this classic can best be defined as a thick red berry fruit compote. Summer berries are combined with sugar and cornstarch. The fruit pudding is served with vanilla sauce, cream or ice cream. It's simple, but somehow summer in Germany wouldn't be the same without it.