Shopping in Germany – #2 Milk Machines

Coming from the UK I am used to drinking fresh pasteurised milk, I wrongly assumed that milk in Germany would be the same. It’s not. Here the long-life (langer haltbare) and ultra heat treated (UHT) milk are kings, and until I found the one local supermarket that sold real milk I was having to consider giving up tea, which would have been a tragedy indeed. Unfortunately the supermarket only sold one brand and was regularly out of stock so when I saw a sign for farm fresh milk I had to investigate. I’m so glad I did.

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Getting back from holiday, getting caught out by a mid week public holiday or simply when the supermarket has run out of real milk meant I needed an alternative source, preferably one that was available 24/7. luckily for me Germany has a growing number of milk machines which serve farm fresh milk. If you are looking to lower your food miles then buying milk direct from the dairy is just about perfect, usually you can see (hear and smell) the cows whilst you are filling up your bottle.

The milk in the machines is pasteurised, not raw (Vorzugsmilch), but also not UHT. Basically the kind of milk that is easily available in the UK. Raw milk in Germany is strictly labelled and packaged and must come with a warning that the milk must be boiled before use. The milk available from the machines is usually 3-3.8% which whilst I was a staunch skimmed milk (1%) drinker in the UK I have been happy to adapt to because the quality is top notch. So whilst the milk from the machines doesn’t last as long as a long-life carton from the supermarket and MUST be refrigerated, it tastes fresh and utterly delicious.

Milk Machines

This was one of the first machines I found locally, three years on the glass bottle is still going strong. The reusable milk bottle was paid for via an honesty box, whilst the money for the milk went straight into the machine. It takes maybe 30 seconds to fill up your litre bottle, and off you go. This shed is open 24/7 and houses the milk machine and other produce from the farm like free range eggs.

The sheds or cabins can be as basic or elaborate as the farmer desires. Some have frilly curtains and corn dollies, but all of them are well equipped and easy to use. Reusable bottles are generally available to buy, glass is more common but plastic is sometimes available and yes you can bring your own litre bottle if you prefer.

The machines are very easy to use, no need to know German, just follow the pictures. They also usually take paper money as well as change but only in smaller denominations. It goes without saying to clean up after yourself and leave everything how you found it, there is generally a bin and some kitchen towel for accidents and spills.

An increasing number of milk machines have a farm produce vending machine next to them, here you can even pick up your drinking chocolate as well as your milk. The cows are also metres away from the machine, these are some award winning cows, as far as food miles goes, basically none.

This milk machine (and there’s a food vending machine too) has it’s own parking spot. This one does close overnight, it is on the outskirts of town and overlooked by tower blocks, but it is always open bright and early, farmers hours.

Some machines are a little more rustic than others, and not all farms are registered on website databases. This doesn’t mean that they are unregulated or of lesser quality, they are just harder to find, but when you do find a good one share that news with everyone. This particular place also makes their own raw milk cheese, which are delicious.

If you get thirsty whilst you’re filling up your bottle or you just need a cold drink, there may be some handy beakers available. Always cheaper than a bottle of water or a coffee.

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And if you forget your bottle completely, and there are no more onsite, a kind farmer might take pity on you and find you an alternative. Still paid a deposit (pfand) though!

Price

  • Cheaper than the supermarket (for the same pasteurised milk)
  • 70cents – 1 Euro per litre for the actual milk
  • 1 Euro – 3.50 Euro for a reusable glass bottle
  • 25 cents to 50 cents for a reusable plastic bottle

How to find a milk machine

All you need is you postcode/ZIP code or town and these two websites will find your nearest available machines –
Milchtankstelle currently has 248 machines registered in it’s scheme which covers Germany Austria and the Netherlands. Their website is available in English, German and Dutch.
REGIOMAT Which has milk as well as food vending machines.
– Also Keep your eyes open when you are out and about, lots of smaller producers aren’t registered on any schemes and rely on word of mouth to bring customers to their farm. Ask your friends and neighbours if they know of any nearby.

If you haven’t yet read the #1 Vending machines post I suggest you go over and check that one out too since the two often come hand in hand.

So do you get your milk from a machine? Have I convinced you to go out and find one for yourself? And if you find a good one, let me know!

Coming up next Verkaufsoffener Sonntag

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Shopping In Germany – #1 Vending Machines

Sunday and public holidays in Germany definitely took some getting used to. The apocalyptic silence, the lack of people around and zero bustle of a normal working day still sometimes take me by surprise six years on. And yes, I too still get caught out by those days when Germany is closed.

Let me introduce you to the first in the series of ways to shop on Sunday and on Public holidays in Germany, the vending machine.

SIG1VendingI have always lived in areas that have good access to the countryside, I’m more of a country mouse than a city mouse. Its great having the fields and mountains on your doorstep but it also means that you can kiss goodbye to a decent take away service or if you’re lucky to have one, a 24hour shop, which are my go to for fridge emergencies. By fridge emergencies I’m taking run out of milk half way through baking, an empty fridge at the end of a 6 hour drive back from France, a craving for eggs that just has to be fulfilled etc

Now I know what you’re thinking, something along the lines of ‘crap from a vending machine does not a decent meal make’ and if these were indeed your average train station vending machines containing enough Haribo to rot your teeth ten times over I’d completely agree. These however are just a little different and contain a few more vitamins and actual ingredients to make real food. Hang on in there until the end to find out how to find one in your area.

Farmers speciality vending machines

Just finding one of these on a Sunday made me really happy, there’s something distinctly sneaky feeling about shopping on a Sunday in Germany, so forbidden (haha).

Hofland Bay – Rohrwiesen 74423 Obersontheim (near Schwäbisch Hall)

This was one of the first machines we stumbled on, finding out this even existed was great and it just happened to have my favourite apples and cheese for MrC. To the left were the meat products, fresh sausages, cured sausages, tinned meats and tinned meals, this machine would only take notes so your change was pre taped to your produce (see the picture), genius! The right held apples, potatoes and a selection of eggs. If you zoom in you can see the prices which are slightly higher than the supermarket but only slightly, and you have the benefit of knowing exactly where your food came from.

Hirschmann – Markgröningerstr 70 71634 Ludwigsburg

Advertising eggs and potatoes around the clock, and yes these machines are available 24/7. Apples, canned meats and home made jam also feature here. You can also order your meat from a local butcher by using a form within the shed and collect it on collection day. The eggs are from chickens who live maybe 100ft from the shed, your food miles are next to nothing here.

Gommel – Herterhöfe 71254 Ditzingen

Many food vending machines have a milk machine next to them, they are the focus of the #2 in the series, for now we’ll just talk about the food. This machine had the best variety of produce musli and cereals, honey, yoghurts, cheeses, eggs, canned meats, cured sausages, potatoes, biscuits, drinking chocolate, pickled gherkins. A decent dinner could be bought out of this machine, the prices again were a little higher than the supermarket but the food miles are low and the quality is spot on.

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Oberbrüdenerstr 20 71522 Backnang

This one was advertised as an Eierautomat (egg vending machine) by the above large egg at the side of the road, but it was one of the best stocked I’ve found. In addition to the eggs (you drive by the chickens who lay them on your way into the village) there was jams, jellies, honey, sauces, apple juice, potatoes and onions all homemade/grown and spätzle, pasta and local tinned meats. The guy before me did his weekly shop at the machine, on a public holiday!

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Fritz – In der Pfarrgartenstr 44 71737 Kirchberg

This is the unassuming entrance to possibly my favourite vending machines so far. Beware, it is only open from 5am-midnight so technically not 24 hours availability but when you see what is inside you’ll understand. It is also located in a residential area, so saves you having to schlepp to the midweek or Saturday market.

The lack of vegetables in vending machines is understandable (perishables can be so unpredictable and require more work to stock more regularly) so when you come across one which has more than just the usual potatoes its a win in my book. Seasonal fruits and vegetables from satsumas to Brussel sprouts were covered as well as eggs, sauces, tinned meats, milk, yoghurts and cream. There was also an honesty box for onions and potatoes which I’ll cover in #4 of this series.

Eppinger – Beim Rötelbrunnen 1 71686 Remseck

Another farm which gets a mention is this place, which is open until 10pm seven days a week. Notable additions in these vending machines included freshly ground coffee and flour. Eggs, tinned meats, honey, yoghurts, milk and plenty more were contained within these four machines. The farm also has a play area, trampoline, coffee machine and all the animals are onsite so it draws in a lot of families when the weather is good.

Butchers speciality vending machines

Don’t expect to find too much for a vegetarian in these vending machines, although occasionally you will find cheese and potato salad in there too.

Im Jordanbad Biberach 88400

As you can see from the branding on this vending machine it is stocked by a local butcher, since most of the butchers around here close at lunchtime on a Saturday it is helpful that this one is 24/7. Also this one is notable for having fresh ready to cook pork steaks in  various sauces, as well as the more usual sausages, cured and uncured and tinned meats. It is also placed right outside a sauna and spa complex incase you fancy a quick snack or need something for dinner.

Ackerstr 29 74394 Hessigheim

What can I say, I saw the sign on the main road and just had to go and see what was in the “Schlemmerbox’. This machine is another well stocked treasure trove and can be found in the middle of a residential area. Since it is stocked by a local butcher the products are mostly pork based, most of your usual sausages are covered, as well as the famous Schwabian Maultaschen (obviously). About 20% of the products are name brand stuff like Red Bull and Kinder chocolate, this butcher is catering to the foodie emergency market and he knows it.

Grossbottwarerstr 77 71720 Oberestenfeld

Not all vending machines are located right in the countryside, this one is bang in the centre of town. Containing all the local butchers produce around the clock, no table needs be meat free when this around the corner.

Hauptstr 60 74376 Gemmrigheim

This one again is right outside the butcher and has a varied selection of the usual meat products in addition to some preprepared snacks like Leberkäse rolls, Wurstsalat, buttered pretzels and this Weisswurst pretzel roll (pictured above) which MrC just had to try. It even came with the appropriate sweet mustard to add to his taste and got a thumbs up from him. The bacon wrapped sausages in particular look good and could be especially useful for those last minute BBQ emergencies. There were also potato and egg honesty boxes in the town, clearly Gemmrigheim is the place to go for some Sunday food shopping.

Vegetable speciality vending machines

Yes these do exist! There are plenty of potato and apple machines out there, look out for ‘Insert name of vegetable here Automat’ at the side of the road.

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Forsthof – 71711 Steinheim an der Murr

This machine is actually located in the carpark of one of my favourite restaurants, I walked past it for years, never thought it was anything but completely normal until we had British guests. They thought it was amazing, couldn’t believe it and insisted on taking pictures with it. I guess a Kartoffel-Automat is pretty special.

Hagdorn Tomaten –  Im Grundwasen 8 71735 Ederdingen-Hochdorf

I was very happy to find this automat, I love tomatoes in all their forms. There are actually two Automats and a shop that opens for regular working hours too. You can see the greenhouses where they grow the tomatoes from the car park (the biggest greenhouse I’ve ever seen) and you can buy a real selection of tomatoes here. From cherry tomatoes in a little beaker for snacking, to beef tomatoes for dinner, the prices are really competitive and only slightly above the supermarket. An added bonus is that this place is always open!

Previous vending machine hauls

Eggs, honey, yoghurts, apple and elderberry jam, crunchy chocolate hearts (most of which got eaten on the way home) and drinking chocolate because the long cold nights of winter are finally upon us.

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Cloudy apple juice, cherry and blueberry yoghurts, chive cream cheese, raw milk cheese, tomatoes and satsumas (which there were a lot more of before we hit a traffic jam on the way home).

Prices

Yes the prices can be slightly higher than the supermarket, more similar to the prices you will pay at the local weekly market. BUT you will know exactly where your food has come from, it will be fresh and the quality is great. Sometimes you can see the chickens and the cows your produce is coming from whilst you’re using the machine. I’ve chatted with some lovely farmers and locals over the years who are really proud that their local produce is actually getting some attention and that things like these vending machines is making it more accessible to everyone.

How to find a food vending machine

Some a registered with a scheme called REGIOMAT which will guarantee that your products are from local farms and producers, their website has a postcode search so you can find your nearest registered vending machines. Not all vending machines are registered with the scheme however, some you need to get out and find yourself.

Do you have any favourite vending machines? Have I encouraged you to get out there and find some in your own town? Either way they are just one of the many ways to shop for food on Sunday and on public holidays in Germany.

Coming up next Milk Machines

And keep your eyes peeled for a special vending machine that is getting its very own review quite soon.

Shopping In Germany – A series

I got to a point, maybe a year ago when I had settled down and wasn’t exploring as much as I usually like to. A lot of time got taken up by a new high maintenance furry household member who shall remain nameless and this blog got put on the back-burner. In an effort to empty my overflowing drafts folder I’m starting back with a series of posts about have you guessed it? Shopping in Germany!

If you’ve read this blog or lived in Germany for any length of time you’ll know that shops in Germany are closed on Sundays and on public holidays. Most probably you’ll also know the annoyance of returning from a trip to an empty kitchen, running out of milk on Saturday night before your boss comes round for Kaffee und Kuchen on Sunday afternoon and realising that you have no idea where to get what you need on a very closed German Sunday. I’m here to help and maybe give you some new ideas for your next foodie emergency.

Up next – Vending machines, that contain way more than just chocolate I promise!

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And if you’re one of those fancy pants people who get to live in a 24 hour Germany, good for you, the South of Germany is another kettle of fish entirely.

If you’d like to contribute to the series or have some recommendations for me be sure to comment below or just email me direct.