WILD FOOD - BERRIES & MUSHROOMS
Berries are the treasures of the vast Finnish forests with the cleanest air in the world.
There are about 50 different natural berries of which 36 are eatable. Even in less fruitful years the forests produce about 100 million kg berries. Only a small amount is picked.
Finnish berries are free and available for everybody. Thanks to the Finnish everyman’s right you can fill your buckets with the Finnish natural superfoods. (Just remember to take a mosquito spray with you!)
Typical Finnish forest berries are blueberry, lingonberry, and cloudberry. Other popular berries include cranberry, buckthorn, wild strawberry, crowberry, bog whortleberry, arctic raspberry and Rowan, Mountain ash. Forest berries are real superfoods as they are full of important vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
The arctic forest berries are conserved and enjoyed in all possible forms: frozen, dried, powders, juices, jams, jellies, dessert sauces, liqueurs... For example, dried berries are healthy snacks during a busy day or a hiking trip. The berry powders give lovely colours and tastes to smoothies, yoghurt and müsli.
Try cloudberry jam (lakkahillo) with vanilla ice or bread cheese (leipäjuusto)!
There are tens of eatable mushrooms in the Finnish forests. Mushroom picking is a popular hobby in autumns. Common mushrooms are chanterelles, funnel chanterelles and ceps.
In addition to the fresh mushrooms you can buy dried or conserved mushrooms in markets and shops.
When you see a mushroom pie (sienipiirakka) on a menu in a café, don’t hesitate to order a slice!
The Finnish supermarkets have a vast bread and other grain product selections. Especially, we love our rye bread. In addition to the fresh rye bread, you can try crispy bread and dried bread bites with or without spices. Oat and barley bread are also popular and tasty. There is also a big and growing selection of gluten free products.
Porridge (puuro) is a traditional and typical meal in Finland. Not only children but many adults also enjoy oatmeal or other porridge for breakfast with fresh or frozen berries. When you want a quick meal or snack, try instant oat meal with cinnamon and berries.
Don’t forget to taste the traditional Carelian pie (karjalanpiirakka) with egg butter. The Carelian pies are made of rye crust and filled with rice porridge.
The most popular sweet bakery products are no doubt cinnamon buns (korvapuusti) and blueberry pie (mustikkapiirakka).
FISH & MEAT
Fish & Crabs
Fishing is a very popular nature activity in Finland. Many like catching crayfish too. There are 103 fish species in Finnish waters. The most common are perch, pike, salmon and Baltic herring.
When you visit the Eastern Finland, you have to try the fish pie (kalakukko). The traditional fish pie is made of rye crust with vendace filling. Nowdays there are also perch, salmon and meat pies.
Try also creamy salmon soup (lohikeitto).
Finns eat lots of meat. The best and the most ecological Finnish meat comes from the reindeer and elks with low fat and natural game aroma. Many Finns buy the game directly from hunters and reindeer farmers. Supermarkets sell frozen game meet as well as smoked and dried reindeer products.
Try Sauteed reindeer (poronkäristys) with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam.
Germany is a wurst country - but so is Finland too! According to an unofficial source of information, sausage (makkara) is the national vegetable of the country. The Finnish grill sausage (grillimakkara) is an essential part of summer cottage and camping life. It is eaten with mustard (sinappi) and beer. Alternative popular makkara drinks are cider (siideri) and long drink (lonkero), mild carbonated fruit wine drinks with different aromas.
How about some liquorice? Maybe liquorice chocolate, liquorice ice-cream, liquorice honey or potato chips with liquorice? If you love liquorice (lakritsi) and salty liquorice (salmiakki), Finland is your dream travel destination.
Fazer manufacturers the best known Finnish chocolate that comes with different aromas, fillings and cacao contents. It is also worth mentioning Finnish handmade gourmet chocolates with forest berries.
Are you brave enough to try reindeer chocolate or fish chocolate?
The Finns are the heaviest coffee drinkers in the world. Somehow we have to try to survive the long dark autumn and winter time. However, the Finnish filter coffee is quite mild and soft. Most coffee shops offer international stronger coffees.
The Finns are also connected with extensive alcohol consumption. Many already know and value the Finnish vodka as pure or with different aromas. Have you already tried the real salmiak vodka liqueur or schnapps?
Of course, there is a large selection of berry liquors and wines in Finland. Many like the unique, mild, not too sour or sweet taste of cloudberry liquor (lakkalikööri).
Just remember that, when you want to buy wines or spirits in Finland you have to find the nearest Alko shop. In the super market, you can buy only beer, long drinks and ciders – as well as taste berry juices and juice concentrates.
Cheers! = Kippis! If you really want to impress a Finn, learn the longer version: Hölökynkölökyn!
Text Mari Raatikainen, photos Visit Finland & Taiga Suklaa
What other Finnish specialties do you love? Do we already have your favourite delicacies in our shop and online shop? Please, do not hesitate to share your comments and wishes.