Zermahlene Kräuter | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

25 Sep. 2015 · Culinary
Carolin Schratt

Recipes from Nature’s Apothecary

When did you last visit a pharmacy? We normally head in this direction if our stomach is feeling uncomfortable, our skin is irritated or our head is pounding. 

As if to show sympathy, the pharmacist sometimes slips a sample pack of sweets or tissues in the bag and when we head out of the shop with the remedies in our hand, we start to feel a tiny bit better.

Kräuterfrau Lydia | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

When was the last time you took a walk in nature? For Lydia Fritz her pharmacy is the ‘Natur da dussa’ (harnessing nature outside). She knows exactly where to find the ingredients she needs within a radius of 15 kilometres. 15 kilometres! This is almost like someone from Cologne knowing every kiosk that sells currywurst from Leverkusen to Bonn.

The Walser herb sorceress is today not only treating us to a introduction to her natural apothecary in Schwarzwassertal, she has also invited us to make a few remedies ourselves in her herbal workshop. Lydia had only just greeted us, then she walks over to the meadow behind her little house in Wäldele and starts pulling one type of herb after the other out of the ground. She holds each one in her hand like a valuable trophy, lightly stroking them with her fingers as she explains to us that sometimes just the structure of the plants reveal something about the healing effects that they can have on people.

Kräuter des KWT | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

She enthusiastically tells us more about the world of herbs for half an hour. Along the path to her herbal workshop, it is possible to observe seven bent-over figures in colourful raincoats roaming over the dried stream bed and then peering down into the grass along the edge of the path. Our little baskets are full and we have collected all our ingredients.

Lydia has already prepared everything in her herbal workshop for her herbal apprentices: calendula oil and St John's wort oil, salt by the kilo, two hot plates with spotty cooking pots and some scales. There is no doubt who the seven chopping boards and pestle and mortars are for – our work stations are all ready.
What happened during the following two hours actually had much more to do with cooking than with laboratory experiments. Green stuff is chopped finely one the side of the table and at the other end an alcoholic mixture simmers on the hob. In the meantime, four herbal apprentices are grinding a mixture of salt and herbs with a pestle and mortar.

As she flits back and forth between the pans and fills the first little pot with herbal balsam, she imparts her virtually infinite knowledge about the herbs that grow locally. For example, why it is better to pick certain herbs during the morning and which herbs are the most important for women. After enjoying some herbal wine, we head outside into the beautiful natural surroundings with our healing balsam and herbal facial scrub in our hands and we could see that our mentor seems a little bit proud of her protégées – and we also felt quite a lot healthier.
If you would like to learn more about the preparation of herbal remedies, you are welcome to accompany Lydia for an afternoon on a herbal walk.

A recipe from Lydia’s natural apothecary that you can make at home:

Body scrub with rock salt and moisturising oil


  • 60 g of rock salt
  • 20 g of base oil with an oil of your choice e.g. masterwort oil (has a grounding effect and helps to clear thoughts), calendula oil (nurturing), St John’s wort oil (calms the nerves)

You can also blend birch or ivy leaves (detoxifying), lavender and melissa (calming) with masterwort or rosemary (energising).

Essential oils:

  • 3 drops of grapefruit and 3 drops of orange oil
  • 2 drops of cypress and Arabian mint or peppermint (can be omitted if you prefer)


Mix the essential oils with the other oils, stir into the salt and pour into a small screw-cap container.

Massage the scrub into moistened skin using a circular motion. Wash off with warm water and gently pat the skin dry. 

Create fragrant wound balm yourself

How to make nettle salt

Bind herbal bushes - that's how it works

Max Hütte  | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Hans Wiesenhofer

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