Drink from the garden: holunder syrup

Elderflower in the garden

Elderflower in the garden

In a corner of the garden of my childhood home, almost like it was hiding, we had an elder tree. When it was in bloom, it would have wonderful parachutes full of flowers. I really liked it. But, just as with the rhubarb we had in our garden, I did not really care for the taste of it. My mother often made elderflower syrup, and its distinct taste was something I didn’t really get used to in the beginning. Contrary to the rhubarb, though, eventually this was a taste that I acquired.

On irregular intervals, the elder tree would come back into my life. Like that period I lived in a street named after it. Or now, in Germany, where during bloom season you not just see the Holunder – as Germans call it – everywhere, but during the whole year you can taste it everywhere. Mostly in drinks. From syrups to beer derivatives (sorry, but I’m not sure yet what else to call Fassbrau). And of course in the summer cocktail from Austria, the Hugo.
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Brown, grey, yellow and blue: the story of the four müll tonnen

The four müll tonnen

The four müll tonnen

In our previous place of residence, life was slightly simpler in terms of household waste. Simpler, but with a slight feeling of guilt, I must admit. Because Riga had no real, or at least: not a mature, recycling policy, all household waste ended up in one bag, that was taken to the waste container by the building staff. We simply put it outside our door, and the rest would be taken care of. Now, at our new home in Germany, we found four separate containers for waste: a brown, a grey, a yellow and a blue one.

The blue container is one of the easier ones: paper goes in it. And cardboard. But, only paper, so laminated paper do not go in it. It almost triggers memories of the days of primary education, when I would have waste paper collection duty with a friend. We would attend the large shipping container on the school premises, and collect the paper waste that people (mostly parents of other school kids) would bring. I think it all was sold and proceeds would go to the school. A nice job, half a day off of lessons, and when the weather was nice, it was brilliant. If not, we could hide in the container and go through all the papers and magazines people threw out.

Also easy to use is the grey container. It’s the collection bin for ‘anything else’, or restmüll. Whatever does not go in the other ones, goes in here.

It gets complicated with the yellow container. Some refer to it as the one for plastic. But that’s not the whole story. Plastic goes in here, but only recyclable plastic. And it’s not just plastic. It’s also milk and other drink cartons that have plastic or aluminum lining in it. Oh, and cans also go in here. So, it’s more the packaging than the plastic container.

The last one is the brown one. The bio-tonne. Or, the container for compostable waste. It seem easy. All the garden and food waste goes here. Well, it’s not that simple. Garden waste: yes. Food waste? Only partially. All fresh waste from peeling or skinning fruits and vegetables goes here. But not when it’s cooked. Not any type of food that is cooked goes in here, by the way. Coffee filters do go in here. But not meat.

It all seems a bit complex, but I guess it’s a matter of getting used to it. In the mean time, fortunately, the municipality has some great information available: an A-Z guide for waste, including locations where you can bring things that don’t go in either of the four waste bins. Because that’s also an option.