If you want to explore the Emsland, you should definitely do it on a bike. One reason is, of course, the beautiful and mostly flat landscape. The other is that you can indulge in the culinary highlights without a guilty conscience after the kilometers you have ridden.
The rural region is home to numerous farms and manufactories that place great emphasis on handmade and naturally matured products.
Moor girl, witch's sword and scissor grinder - anyone who guesses "cheese" from these three keywords without help has almost certainly already tasted them.
A lot of love, creativity and a sense of home are in the small family business, founded only in 2018 Fehnland goat cheese. The Hektor family fulfilled a dream when they bought the farm three years ago. Since then, they let their 300 goats graze on the edge of the moor and in return they get mild goat milk twice a day. Goat cheese is made every two days, a total of seven varieties that ripen between six weeks and seven months. There is a reference to home in all their names.
Moormädel, for example, is a mild cheese named after the goats (gals) that graze in the moors. The name Hexenschwert was inspired by Goose Sienken, the last witch from the Hebelermeer, whose life was ended with the sword.
Yard and "girls" can be visited every Sunday afternoon.
Digging in the sand to your heart's content and falling asleep at night under straw huts - what sounds like a dream vacation camp is everyday life for the shaggy grazing pigs of Taurus pasture meat.
These live year-round in the meadows near Bawinkel, eating herbs, roots and grasses and having a pretty good time. The farm's curly Galloway cattle feel similarly at home. Unlike the pigs, they do not spend their lives in a pasture, but graze in Bawinkel, Haselünne or Eltern, depending on age and season.
The Oberthür family and farmer Imke Erdtmann founded the meat business together in 2009. As an alternative to the large industry, they raise healthy, high-quality animals on the pastures of Emsland and sell their meat in the farm store and at the surrounding weekly markets.
Wooden stairs and ladders connect the five floors with each other, pulleys hang from the ceiling and in the middle stands the millstone: In Enking's mill it still looks the same as it did after it was built 200 years ago.
Regional rye is cleaned and milled here every day. The flour is then processed into the famous pumpernickel bread in the Enking family's brown bread bakery. The dough is mixed from water, rye and iodized salt, baked for 24 hours at low temperatures, packaged and shipped all over Germany.
In addition to various cakes, the café, which is located under the mill, offers a special specialty - the pumpernickel cake, which is available only at Enking's Mühle. The pumpernickel and other small items can be bought in the mill store.
For a long time, the Nieters family produced their ham only for their own use. But for 20 years now, it has been available in the farm store, as well as mead sausage and salami from their own production, and regional products from surrounding farms.
On the Hümmlinger ham farm Nieters manual labor is a matter of honor. Here, the ham is still rubbed by hand with table salt, placed in the curing barrel, watered and hung in the drying room. A ham needs several months to dry well, a time that is gladly waited for here.
Have you ever bitten into the Harener Dom? We have - it tastes like salted caramel. We're not talking about the real Dom, of course, but the flat version made just under a kilometer away from it.
The Chocolate manufactory Schokolaa, Low German for chocolate, is located in an old restored farmhouse in the middle of Haren. There, founder Andre Kleimann produces fine organic chocolate every day and gives his love of his homeland a multiple chocolaty form. The Bentheimer Landschaf "Ben", for example, is available as a sweet variant, or a chocolate bar with the imprint of Haren Cathedral - made from organic ingredients, with fair trade cocoa and without palm oil.
The foundation of the Brewery Borchert was just 30 years ago, yet their beers taste as if the Borchert family has been making them that way for centuries.
In the small brewery in Lünne, fresh beer is brewed, unfiltered, unpasteurized beers, which thus get an original taste. In this beer there is still real joy in the craft. The six varieties are produced as in the past, almost exclusively by hand and personally supervised by the brewer. The beer is served in the large country inn that is part of the brewery.
It is not unusual to hear loud cheering from the country inn gardens. The brewery regularly hosts events such as crossbow shooting, which is celebrated with a knight's banquet afterwards.
Anyone who loves fine drops will feel right at home in Haselünne. The oldest town in the Emsland region is a real distillery hotspot and has already produced some well-known brands.
The Distillery Berentzen for example, which was founded 250 years ago on the edge of Haselünn's old town. The company's headquarters are located in a rural, dignified setting in the 650-year-old Burgmannshof. The distillery museum, the new farm distillery and the barrel warehouse are also located there, all of which can be visited. For example, on the Night Guide tour, where you accompany an old master distiller and learn about the history of the company and grain production while the flavors tickle your palate.
Just 200 meters away is the Fine grain distillery Rosche. Here are produced since 1792 grain, noble grain, liqueurs, fruity and herbs. The special: The family business grows the wheat from which the distillates are made itself. In addition, industrially produced enzymes, which are needed to convert wheat starch to sugar, are not used in the production process. Here, too, you can take part in factory tours and in the Original Haselünner Grain Academy even a grain diploma learning what makes a good grain and how it is made.
The third and youngest of the bunch is the Private grain distillery H. Heydt. It was founded in 1860 and is now run by the fifth Heydt generation. The three-story clinker brick house produces grain, fruity, liqueurs and vodka-based drinks. Of course, you can also take a look behind the scenes here. From Monday to Saturday, the modern distilling facilities, the barrel warehouse and the showroom can be visited - tasting is encouraged.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to the Emsland: Plan arrival.
Cover photo: Great end to a tour: A visit to the grain and Hanseatic town of Haselünne © Emsland Tourismus GmbH
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