Nowhere else but in the Wildschönau is it allowed to distill the Krautinger schnapps made from white beets.
This cure-all can be found in almost every local household and is used against every small ailment.
After a heavy meal a glass of Krautinger as a digestif is just the thing.
The smell takes some getting used to and you either love or hate the taste. In any case a little sample is almost unavoidable on a visit to the Wildschönau.
Empress Maria Theresia bestowed the exclusive distillery rights on the region’s farmers in the 18th century. 51 farmers were originally on the list. Nowadays 16 families still make use of the Royal Decree.
The white beet has helped the region to the coveted seal of culinary excellence the “Genussregion“ title which means that a region is known nationwide for a particularly high quality product. Wildschönau is the eighth region in Tirol to have this honour and has held the title since 2006.
The white beet or turnip is harvested in summer, washed and chopped into a pulp. The mash is reduced to a third of it’s volume, mixed with yeast and left for 48 hours and finally distilled. But the process isn’t quite as simple as it sounds.
Much patience is required and there are many other factors which contribute to the quality of the Krautinger.
Among other things the type of fire used to heat the mass is decisive. Electric heat is frowned upon by distillers.
The required temperature is reached by burning beech wood.
The original Krautinger distillers use only home grown beet seed, disdaining industrially produced seed.
The white beet and the Krautinger schnapps are celebrated once a year during the Krautinger Week.
The whole week is dedicated to the famous beet in all it’s connotations and ends with a bang at the Harvest Festival in the Z'Bach Farming Museum, where the year's best schnapps is chosen.
The beet isn't just enjoyed in liquid form but is also as an ingredient of many a delicious dish on menus around the valley. Long ago the vegetable was considered poor man’s fare. Because it is so rich in vitamins the beet has regained it’s place in the local diet. 10 restaurants present creative beet specialties during the Krautinger Week including; beet ravioli, beet carpacchio, beet soup or fish with a side dish of beet.