Whenever I visit my family in Austria and return to Scotland, I bring back some tasty Austrian goodies for friends and plenty of delicious treats for myself. If you are looking for foodie souvenirs to take back home with you from a trip to Austria, have a look through my list of essential Austrian food gifts.
My favourite Austrian food gifts
I initially started this post as a small list of must-have Austrian food gifts. In the end, I got a bit carried away and it turned into quite a substantial list of all the Austrian food souvenirs I love taking home with me.
Austrian Pumpkin Seed Oil and Käferbohnen
One of my favourite Austrian food gifts is a combination of Styrian pumpkin seed oil (Kürbiskernöl) and Käferbohnen. Kürbiskernöl is the most delicious and wholesome oil you’ll ever taste. It’s made from a specific variety of pumpkin, the Steirischer Ölkürbis (Cucurbita pepo var. styriaca), the seeds of which are first roasted and then pressed. The resulting oil has a distinctively nutty flavour, deep green in colour and perfect for salad dressings. This is where the Käferbohnen (Phaseolus coccineus) come in. Also cultivated in the Styria region, Käferbohnen are large beans (up to 2.5cm long) and usually dark-purple, red and brown brindled in colour. Combined, these two Austrian delicacies make for an awesome salad (Käferbohnensalat).
Austrian Organic Herbal Tea
My all-time favourite, all-organic herbal teas come from Sonnentor, a company based in the Austrian area of Waldviertel. More than 150 Austrian organic farmers provide the high quality herbs and spices for Sonnentor’s feel-good products. My favourite teas are Schutzengel-Tee and Druidentrank. The first is an indulgent spice tea blend combining apple pieces, coriander seeds, fennel, rose hip, mint, anise and corn flowers. Druidentrank is a delicate herbal tea blend made with hemp leaves, birch leaves, hazelnut leaves, mallow leaves, mint and mugwort.
With company values including respect for nature and a wide range of herbal and spice teas to choose from, Sonnentor is an Austrian brand which will deliver fantastic goodies for any gifting occasion.
Austrian Drinks: Rum, Schnaps & Wine
Austria has a wealth of alcoholic drinks to choose from. Here are some of my favourite drinks which will make great gifts too.
Stroh Rum – A richly spiced dark rum made from sugarcane by-products and a secret blend of spice extracts and essences. Stroh Rum comes in a variety of strengths, most notably the hefty strength of 80% alcohol. It’s not only great in the Jagatee, a hot drink made with dark spiced rum, black tea, red wine, Schnaps and cinnamon, but also perfect for sweet home-baking (e.g. Christmas Stollen and Mohnstrudel).
Schnaps – Austrian Schnaps is brandy made with local fruit. Ask any local and they will be able to point you in the direction of locally produced Schnaps. Anyone with their own fruit trees can distill Schnaps for their own consumption. In order to sell it, certain additional guidelines must be followed but there is plenty of supply! In my local area, there are two specific Schnaps distillers I can recommend: Hofdestillerie Dicker and Edelobstbrennerei Andre Christon.
Austrian wine – Austrian wines are enjoying a worldwide renaissance at the moment and are valued for outstanding reputation, quality and innovation. 35 grape varieties (22 white, 13 red) are permitted for use in Austria with the local variety Grüner Veltliner accounting for almost one third of Austria’s vineyards. Take a look at the beautiful Austrian wine growing regions and find out more about the many award-winning Austrian wines. You really can’t go wrong with a good bottle of Austrian wine for a foodie friend.
Finally, a quick mention of Almdudler, the popular Austrian fizzy soft drink, second only to Coca-Cola in terms of Austrian carbonated soft drink consumption. I don’t want to promote sugary soft drinks on my blog, but I couldn’t omit Almdudler from this list! Almdudler tastes similar to ginger ale, but sweeter, herbier and slighly more bitter. A must-taste when in Austria!
Austrian Sweets & Christmas Treats
Perhaps the most typical and popular foodie present from Austria – a bag of Mozartkugeln. Mozartkugeln were created in 1890 by Salzburg confectioner Paul Fürst and named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The delectable confection balls made of a central ball of pistachio marzipan, a layer of nougat and an outer layer of dark chocolate. There are many plagiates out there, but if you can, seek out the hand-made Original Salzburger Mozartkugeln which are manufactured by Fürst’s descendants up to today.
Manner’s classic Neapolitan wafers are my personal Austrian packaged sweet favourite (and it seems Arnie’s too!). Who wouldn’t like tender wafers filled with four layers of delicate hazelnut cocoa cream?! The basic recipe introduced in 1898 has remained unchanged to this day. So delicious, they melt in your mouth, have a taste.
If you are looking for a fun candy gift from Austria, PEZ sweets and their mechanical pocket dispensers are the perfect present. Originally marketed as a peppermint sweets, PEZ are now available in a range of different fruit flavours. The name PEZ comes from the German word for peppermint (Pfefferminz). Classic dispener heads feature Disney, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Pokemon, The Simpsons characters and many more. There are over 550 unique dispenser heads with many variations but Santa Claus is the highest-selling PEZ dispenser to date.
Local Austrian Specialities
If you get a chance, head to one of the many local food markets in Austria, for example Schrannenmarkt in Salzburg, Naschmarkt in Vienna or any of the weekly markets taking place across the country in market towns. You can pick up local Austrian delicacies wherever you go.
What’s your favourite Austrian food souvenir? Let me know, the list is work in progress and will be updated frequently.