Doggie bags, smaller servings to cut waste

Restaurants should offer smaller portions and take-out containers to pack up uneaten food to reduce food waste, Germany's consumer minister and a leading restaurant organisation said on Wednesday.

Doggie bags, smaller servings to cut waste
Photo: DPA

“Not everyone wants an XXL-sized portion on their plate,” Consumer Minister Ilse Aigner said in a joint statement with Dehoga, the leading hotel and restaurant organisation. The two made a joint presentation in Berlin on how restaurants and consumers could reduce food waste, following a recent study showing Germans throw out 11 million tons of food a year.

Restaurants and workplace cafeterias should make it easier for diners to take home their leftovers, the minister said. The Dehoga has established a checklist for its members to help them reduce food waste.

Aigner’s ministry and the group have also worked together on a website – “Too good for the Garbage” – to help consumers reduce their food rubbish.

The site even contains recipes, adorned with the smiling face of the consumer minister, for making the best of leftovers. There are also practical tips, such as how to keep bread fresh longer.

Noticeably missing from the presentation was a mention that smaller portions might also be a good idea to combat German obesity levels.

Dehoga spokesman Benedikt Wollbeck acknowledged that this could be the case, but said Aigner and his group wanted to concentrate on reducing food waste.

“It’s hard for a government official to say you should eat less,” he told The Local.

So far the restaurants are doing way better than households, Wollbeck said, with 17 percent of total food waste coming from restaurants compared to 61 percent from private households.

The Dehoga is Germany’s largest gastronomic association with some 231,000 members, he said.

The Local/DAPD/mw

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5 things you need to know about German Glühwein

It's that time of year again when the delicious German drink Glühwein will be on sale at Christmas Markets and in bars all over the country. Here's what you need to know about the traditional winter beverage.

5 things you need to know about German Glühwein

1. It existed before Christmas Markets

Nowadays, sipping a hot mug of Glühwein is mostly associated with a visit to a traditional German Christmas market, which might make you think that it was an invention of wine stand operators.

However, though German Christmas markets have been around for nearly 600 years, some form of mulled wine has been a popular winter beverage since Roman times.

READ ALSO: Where are Christmas markets around Germany already opening?

The Romans had their own special recipe for Glühwein which combined wine with honey and spices such as pepper, bay leaf, saffron and dates.

The oldest documented consumption of Glühwein in Germany can be traced back to Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen, a German nobleman who was the first grower of Riesling grapes in the 15th century. Archaeologists found a special silver plated cup dating from 1420 which he used to sip the sweet and spicy drink.

2. Don’t overstep the 80C mark

When making your own batch of Glühwein at home – you’ll want to make sure that your ingredients – wine (red or white), sugar, cinnamon, cloves, lemon, orange and star anise – are simmering away at a temperature of no more than 80C.

Aromatic spices give Glühwein its special flavour. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | DWI

Above 80C the alcohol evaporates, which is detrimental to the taste and causes the sugar to degrade. The ideal temperature for your Glühwein is between 72C and 73C and the perfect colour is a deep red. 

3. It literally means ‘Glow wine’

The Glüh part of the word for this drink – which sounds a bit like the English word “glue” – comes from the German verb glühen meaning “to glow”.

The origin of the word Glühwein goes back hundreds of years when hot irons were used to heat the wine. It might help you to remember the meaning of the word by looking at the glowing cheeks of your friends while drinking a cup of the hot alcoholic drink.

READ ALSO: What’s the history behind Germany’s beloved Christmas markets?

4. You can make it without alcohol (or with even more)

To make a non-alcoholic version of Glühwein – or Kinderpunsch (children’s punch) as it’s commonly referred to in German – you can replace the wine with a mixture of fruit tea, apple and orange juice. 

Children’s punch cups with the motif “Moppi” from the children’s TV show Sandmännchen at a stand of the Leipzig Christmas market. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Willnow

If you want to go the other way and make a Glühwein mit Schuss (mulled wine with a shot), you can add a dash of rum or amaretto to your cup full of Glühwein just before drinking. 

5. Glühwein makes you merry faster

Alcoholic hot drinks get you drunk faster, as their high temperature ensures that the alcohol enters the bloodstream more quickly and easily. Sugar also promotes alcohol absorption, so a cup of mulled wine will go to your head much more quickly than a glass of normal wine.