In Glarus, you’ll find several food specialties unique to this Swiss canton, including a little green cheese and a spiced sugar with sandalwood. If you’re planning to visit Glarus, I’ve created a list of 10 foods you might want to try while you’re there. How many of them have you already tasted?
A few facts about Glarus…
- Glarus is the canton with the smallest capital city in Switzerland, also named Glarus (population: approximately 12,000, which includes the townships of Ennenda, Netstal, and Riedern).
- It holds one of two Landsgemeinde remaining in Switzerland, in which residents congregate in a public square and participate in the election by raising their voting cards (the other one takes place in the canton of Appenzell-Innerrhoden).
- In Eastern Switzerland, did you also know that Glarus has the highest mountain? The Tödi rises up to 3,614 meters above sea level.
A family-owned brewery in the canton of Glarus since 1828, Brauerei Adler currently brews six different beers. I had the Panix Perle, a refreshing blonde beer made with three hop varieties. The brewery also offers a special Panaché, called Adlerpfiff, which contains 60 percent beer and 40 percent Elmer Citro, a carbonated lemonade that you should also try from this region.
A flat, round and yeasted pastry that contains raisins, Ankenzelte (also known as Anggenzelten) dates back to around the mid-19th century. This soft, but dense pastry has a spiced sugar topping. The one I purchased at Bäckerei Gabriel was sprinkled with Magenträs (see item #10 below).
Another type of “zelte” — the name in the local dialect for these flat pastries, is the Drusenzelte. Like the Ankenzelte, it also contains raisins, however it has a dry, crumbly texture in comparison. Originally, this pastry contained “drusen,” a by-product from making butter. Today, bakeries like Cornetto in Glarus just use butter to make a pastry that reminds me of a large raisin cookie.
Herbal liqueurs known as alpenbitters exist in other Swiss cantons, but Glarus has its own special recipe. The Glarner Alpenbitter began in the early 20th century, but has been recently revived after its production completely stopped in 1975. Made with cardamom, gentian, caraway, anise and more, I like a small glass of it with some ice.
Not surprisingly, this Swiss canton has its own special alpine cheese. Glarner Alpkäse is a full-fat, semi-hard cheese that contains raw cows’ milk. It earned an AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) designation in 2013. In order to earn this special label, it must be produced in summer alpine pastures between May 1 and September 30, among other requirements.
Glarus also has its own version of Switzerland’s popular pear bread, generally known as Birnbrot, which can also be found in Graubünden, Toggenburg and elsewhere. Just like these other breads, the Glarner Birnbrot has a dried pear filling mixed with candied citrus peels, figs, raisins, walnuts and spices. The filling is wrapped together with a yeasted butter dough. The difference between the Glarner Birnbrot and others may be slight, due to variations in the spice mixture, for example. Also, the fruit is typically boiled together, as also done for the Toggenburg Birnbrot, but in Graubünden, the fruit is usually left overnight to soften in a brandy bath.
The Glarner Pastete is truly unique to Glarus — although the Pithiviers, a Three Kings’ Cake in French-speaking Switzerland, could be its cousin. The Glarner puff pastry cake has two fillings: almond on one side and dried plums on the other. Shaped like a flower, the cake often contains the symbol of the canton — an image of Saint Fridolin holding a staff and a bible. If you want to learn more about Fridolin or try making your own Glarner Pastete, Helvetic Kitchen has an article for you.
One of the most well-known sausages in Glarus is the Glarner Kalberwurst, which received an IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) designation in 2011. This veal sausage made with milk resembles the St. Galler Bratwurst, but it also contains bread. People in Glarus traditionally eat this sausage after the Landsgemeinde in a butter sauce with onions. In terms of dried sausages in Glarus, you could try the Glarner Chämi-Salami. This smoked beef and pork salami was first introduced in the 1960s. Production of the salami stopped in 1995, but it has since been reintroduced.
In the Swiss canton of Glarus, you’ll discover a spiced sugar called Magenträs that contains a surprising ingredient. In fact, sandalwood powder helps give this product a somewhat reddish color. A classic way to eat Magenträs is on buttered bread. You can also use it as a sweetener for other Swiss dishes, like Ankenzelte (#1 on this list) and Zigerkrapfen, a fried pastry with a ziger filling (a soft cheese made from whey).
A little cylinder of very fragrant, light green cheese comes from Glarus. Known as Schabziger — not to be confused with ziger, this cheese gets its unique color from Blue Fenugreek. In Switzerland, the first production of this cheese occurred during the 15th century. A popular Swiss recipe for Schabziger is Glarner Hörnli mit Apfelmus, (a.k.a. Schabziger hörnli), a variation of macaroni and cheese.
For more information about the canton of Glarus: